Sloley happy to inspire youngsters
Danielle Sloley, with her record of 15.99m in the Class Two girls shot put at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs) last year, not only defended her title but showed the nation that Immaculate Conception High School is serious about its growing track and field programme.
Sloley has become the poster girl for her school’s track team and many younger girls now look at her as an example that it is possible to balance academics with an athletic career. As such, she is attracting younger girls to track and field at her school. She shares what such a responsibility feels like in this recent question-and-answer session with The Gleaner’s Rachid Parchment.
Do your accomplishments last season put more pressure on you to perform this season?
Oh, definitely. I came off a very high pedestal last year, winning Champs, [setting the] record, and also going to Argentina (Youth Olympic Games in 2018). It does put me on a platform that I feel I have to stay on, coming off that season. But, overall, I’m not worried. I have faith in myself. If I did it before, I can do it again. I can also trust my coach to put me on the right path in getting to where I need to get to.
How does it feel knowing younger girls in Immaculate’s track and field programme look up to you?
It’s an amazing feeling, actually. Just for people to look at me and want to emulate whatever I do, it’s pretty outstanding. I feel so good every single time someone comes to me and says they like what I do or they want to try and do what I do. I like what I do for the programme at school, because we’re using me as an example to get girls to join the programme at the school. Also, for upcoming talent already in the school to come and join the track and field programme and just find themselves in throws and other events.
How do you balance schoolwork with athletics?
It’s a lot of sleepless nights. I don’t have much time. I’m busy with school. I have a lot of leadership positions here at Immaculate, while having a leadership position on my track and field team. So you just have to balance and know how to prioritise.
What are the extracurricular activities you’re involved with?
I’m on the prefect council, I’m the public-relations officer for the prefect council and I’m on the honour society. I’m a member of the Octogon Club, I am a public-relations officer for the peer council society. Oh! And I’m a house captain and vice captain of the track and field team, haha.
How much time do you have left for a social life, like most teenagers?
That’s where multitasking comes in. When I’m at training, I listen to music. When I’m at home showering or doing anything pertaining to my personal development, I listen to music, and I just have to learn how to balance my time. I listen to gospel music, but I like soca music as well.
What would you say is one source of difficulty as a student athlete?
When it came to getting my SBAs (School Based Assessments) done, especially with the deadline so close to Champs. Even my mock exams are the week of Champs, so I’m gonna have to study extra hard and try to finish my individual syllabus, before the teachers, in order to study for my mock exams. I’m going to be gone for Penn Relays, hopefully, and during that time, I’ll be getting a lot of work done for CAPE (Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations), so I have to take the initiative to finish my schoolwork on my own.
What are your objectives for Champs this year?
I’m just looking to go out there and shoot a world-ranking mark. I don’t know the exact distance I want, but I just want that to be something that I can be ranked in the world.
Given that Fedrick Dacres did so well in the discus throws in 2018, even winning the RJRGLEANER Sports Foundation Sportsman of the Year award, how do you feel about the future of throws in Jamaica?
Jamaica has a very bright future when it comes on to throwing, because given our history of throws, we were never usually up there with the rest of the world and now we have people ranking, world-leading throws, both junior and senior. You have (Calabar’s) Kai Chang, who went to the World Juniors and won. That’s not something that’s normal. Even at Champs, it’s so competitive, the throws. I just feel like Jamaica has a super bright future.