October 22, 2020

Harper still an active sports connoisseur at 78

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jerry-harper_w300By Fred Sturrup From The Freeport News

There he reclined, in his bed at The Pines Nursing Home in . Because of the “fatcalves” varicose veins health issue, he doesn’t get around much, like before. No, Jerry Harper can’t vault on scooters and zip from point to point like he once did.

A wheelchair is his most-used form of movement.

However, the 78-year-old /education mentor is just as vibrant, mentally, as ever. While in Grand Cayman last weekend, I visited with the adopted Bahamian sports icon. We spent two hours going down nostalgic avenues, jockeying during the conversation to highlight different aspects of the sports/high school history we share.

“You know, I consider myself a Bahamian and a Cayman Islander, a Caribbean man, even though I was born in Massachusetts of the United States. To The Bahamas, my connection was never severed. I maintained contact with students and friends and now with the email, in particular, I constantly interact with you and others. I don’t communicate via Facebook but I view the pages and see what’s there about The Bahamas. So the place where I once lived and shared so many good happenings, will remain with me forever,” said Harper.

Of course, his friendship circle is sort of cultish. Indeed, the Bahamian fraternity that embraces Harper is extreme in its recognition of contributions and respect for those who have done so much, often at great personal sacrifice in the interest of nation building through sports.

Harper spent just 10 years in the country as a teacher/coach/administrator. He came in 1964 and in 1974, he left. During that time, he became a sports legend, crafting what is considered by many, (certainly this columnist), the finest male high school basketball team in Bahamian history.

The names include some of the best high school players to ever bounce a basketball, namely Fred “Slab” Laing, Charlie “Softly” Robins, Sterling “Georgia” Symonette, Noel “Yae” Taylor, Bradley Bain and Dudley “Bones” Moxey. They were complimented by the likes of David Bastian, George Brennan and Don Newbold.

“They were so special because each had a job to do and did so respectively to great satisfaction and success,” Harper reminisced.

There was much more to Harper than basketball. He was once the Athletic Director at Aquinas College and coached a variety of sport disciplines. It was the game of basketball however, he will long be remembered for.

As an educator, he molded students at St. Thomas Moore, St. Francis and Aquinas in New Providence and school age boys and girls in Treasure Cay. Outside of The Bahamas, he spent time in several other Caribbean nations.

This is his second stint in the . He first made his contributions to that island’s development in Cayman Brac (five years) and then Grand Cayman (seven years) before moving on to Haiti (three years), British Virgin Islands (four years) and Puerto Rico (two years).

Harper came back to the Cayman Islands following the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and has remained in place ever since. He is a for sure.

The Bahamian Jerry Harper link is sacred, not necessarily in the associated concept of holiness, but he has been positively transformative to so many Bahamians. Harper’s time in The Bahamas resulted in a process towards quality adulthood for those he touched in any meaningful way.

He came to the country and when he left, a nation was more enlightened and productive because Jerry harper had passed this way.

Continued best wishes Jerry!

IMAGE: Jerry Harper

For more on this story go to: http://freeport.nassauguardian.net/Sports-Scope/Harper-still–an-active-sports-connoisseur-at-78

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