Some of the island's brightest young stars in sports will soon be wearing the vibrant red colour of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, as the institution has released the names of the more than 30 students, who have been awarded sports scholarships for the 2013-2014 academic year.
Jamaica's first World Junior and Youth discus champion Federick Dacres joins the UWI Pelicans along with national junior sprinter Odail Todd formerly of Green Island High School in Hanover.
The former Calabar standout Dacres, who won two gold medals at the World Junior Championships in 2012 and 2011, explained his reason for selecting UWI, Mona despite having received a number of invitations from other institutions.
"I got a lot of offers from a number of North American colleges, but I chose UWI, Mona because I don't really plan on leaving Jamaica. I was supposed to leave but decided to stay. I have grown and developed my skills here and I think it is the best option for me," Dacres said.
He went on to add that he was eager to take advantage of the educational aspect of the scholarship.
"I am really looking forward to both getting a degree and making my name in track and field so that I can make a living from doing what I love," Dacres added.
Director of sports at UWI, Mona, Dalton Myers, highlighted the fact that the university has made constant improvement over the years, remaining one of the top options for study.
"UWI, Mona has focused and will always focus on developing our facilities and programmes. In this way, we make available local opportunities and offerings comparable to those available at institutions outside of Jamaica, as more and more students realise the benefits of studying at home," Myers expressed.
Other track and field athletes who will be traversing the corridors of the UWI, Mona campus are Deandra Whitehorne, Matthew Campbell, Opal James, Rhajel Brown, Jodean Williams, Mellisa Williams, top female junior sprinter Shenell Francis as well as high jumpers John Phillips, Jelani Bogle and long-distance runner Martin Kennedy.
Ten sports scholarships were also awarded to footballers, with former Wolmer's Boys' goalkeeper Amal Knight leading a contingent, which also includes Taniel McKenzie, Davian Montaque, Shamal Thomas, Mitch Wright, Jerondy Henry, Daryl Denny and females Samantha Watson, Alicia Richards and Trudi Ann Young.
The UWI netball programme will also be strengthened with the acquisition of Terry Ann Jones and national Under-21 Sunshine Girl Antionette Stone. Basketballers Kedar Clarke and Damion Johnson will also take up sports scholarships, along with volleyballers Solene Walker and Wolmer's Girls standout Vanessa Jones.
Rounding out the 31 student scholars are cricketers Oshane Walters, former Jamaican Under-19 representative James McDonald and Amanjah Morris.