October 30, 2020

Honoring Women’s Month in the Cayman Islands: Elevation is Eleanor’s game

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Eleanor BerryTo Eleanor Berry, sport is like the air people breathe and her trophy case is proof of her prowess. She has a trophy for every sport she has competed in — softball, volleyball, soccer, flag football and netball — and she has excelled as a player and leader.

Her sporting achievements aside, Ms. Berry is being recognized by the Department of Sports Women’s Coordinator Merta Day during Honoring Women Month for her tireless dedication to the children of Truth for Youth School.

“Eleanor is a leader on and off the field. She aspires to lead, giving tirelessly of her time for years coaching boys and girls on a voluntary basis,” Ms. Day said.

“She is a role model, not only as an athlete but as a coach, and she does it without asking for a In addition to having a full time job at the Needs Assessment Unit and still being an active athlete at the top of her game, Ms. Berry also gives back 8 -10 hours a week to coach young people in the Truth for Youth School’s sport program.

Eleanor grew up in a well-known sporting family with the likes of Rose Wright (sister), Robert Berry (brother) and cousins Ceta Fuentes, Peterkin and Arnold Berry. So it is safe to say that sport runs through her veins like blood. Berry’s love for sports started in track and field with Coach Jerry Harper and Evelyn Rockett during her days at the Cayman Islands Middle School. Later she moved to netball and was coached by Ms. Jane Kelly and Ms.Evelyn Rockett. She also took on volleyball in High School and was coached by Ms. Verril Prescott. This became the sport that is most dear to her heart.

“While I love all sports, volleyball is my passion. It is the sport that has given me more opportunity to travel and the one that has challenged me the most.

“My height (5’3″) puts me at disadvantage in this sport and I wanted to prove that height is not always a factor. So I put everything I had into achieving my goals,” she said.

Ms. Berry has also played on women’s football teams; George Town, Northeast, Nayaand Latinos as well as softballand flag football teams.

She has captained teams in volleyball for the NorcecaCaribbean Championship and locally. She was also a member of the volleyball national teams that travelled to Europe for the Island Games. When asked why she is involved in sports she simply replies “I enjoying showing that our small islands have a lot of talent”

In fact, one of her most memorable experience came when she rallied her team back from set point in the 4th set to defeat Guernsey 26-24 during the Islands Games held in the Isle of Man. We fought for Cayman with all our hearts losing the 5 set 15-13 in the quarter finals. We may have lost the game overall, but we won the hearts of those that watched that game,” Ms. Berry stated. The team placed 5thout of 11 teams.

Ms. Berry’s coaching career started when Mr. Errol Levy recognized her talents on the netball court and encouraged her to start coaching Bodden Town Primary School at the age of 19. Mr. Levy’s faith in Eleanor’s ability was rewarded when she produced a winning season in 1990 when the U-12 team captured the Primary School league and one of her players netted the Best Shooter trophy. A year later,Ms. Berry’s U-10 team went onto win the Primary School League as well.

But it was when her son Jamaal Miller started school at Truth for Youth that she and Ms. Valerie Foster (teacher) and Mr. Orvin Palacio (Coach)rallied together to start an athletic program. This program now has a solid reputation for being a feeder system for producing top basketball players such as Philip Webb, Latorie Nixon, Larue Nixon, Jamaal Miller, Tiko Moore, Arrin Taylor, Felicia Connor and Minor Brooks. Some of these players like Tiko Moore and Phillip Webb have also gone on to receive university scholarships for their athletic prowess. In football Kareem Foster and Nicholas Chung have earned tryout with junior teams in Europe.

“My love of sports and of children is why I do it,” said Ms. Berry.

“If I didn’t step up to coach, then who would?” she questioned.

“I want to make a difference in the lives of our children and coaching provides me with the opportunity to interact with the children when they are at an age when I can make a difference. It feels so good when you build a relationship with thesekids that extend into adulthood and you get to see them do positive thing. The satisfaction I get from seeing a child succeed is priceless to me. Additionally, sport has given me many opportunities and wonderful experiences that I want to share with these kids.

“I want to ensure that my children Jamaal and Satiah and all the children of these islands get the same opportunities that were available to me growing up,” she said.

The Truth for Youth teams recent exploits include the U-9 boys winning the consolation cup in the CUC Primary School League and the U-11 Boys which includes her daughter Satiah Miller as the goalkeeper placing third in the opening Rally of the Primary School Football League.

Reflecting on being recognized as part of Honoring Women Month, Ms. Berry said: “Words can’t express the gratitude I feel that Ms. Day has chosen to honor me. It is a wonderful feeling to be acknowledged and appreciated for something that is my passion. We women are now entering a new age in which we are being recognized for our contributions and I look forward to seeing many of the other women whom I know are just as devoted as I am get the recognition they deserve.”

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