11 awarded Pocket Rocket Foundation Scholarship

By Sports Desk September 26, 2023

Rising sprint sensation Natrece East of Wolmer’s Girls is among this year’s Pocket Rocket Foundation Scholarship recipients, who will receive a significant financial boost towards their academic and sporting pursuits.

Through donations and fundraisings, the foundation, which is the brainchild of Jamaica’s sprint icon Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, offers financial assistance to high school student athletes, between second form and sixth form, who represent their school in any sporting discipline.

This year, East, who won the Class three 200m title at ISSA Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships earlier this year, and is also a national representative, is among 11 recipients from various high schools.

Tshani Armstrong of St Catherine; Tyrone Lawson of Jamaica College, Lysander Taylor of Papine; Karissa Kelly of Wolmer’s Girls; Nickayla Russell of Holmwood Technical; Kenrick McFarlane of Excelsior; Jaheim Jackson of Knox College; Joel Lamm of Wolmer’s Boys; Jordyne Grant, also of Wolmer’s Boys, and Streme Cha of Campion College, are the other recipients.

Each recipient will receive $100,000 towards their high school expenses to include, tuition, books, uniform, lunch and travel, which is to be redeemed annually, provided their exemplary academic standards and disciplined behaviour remain intact.

This brings the number to over 66 student athletes across more than 22 different high schools competing in 11 different sporting disciplines that have benefited from Academic Scholarship, since the foundation's inception in 2013.

Scholarships are awarded based on exemplary performance in both academics and athletics.

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  • 'Sloley' but surely: massive new personal best a triumph on Krystal’s journey of tears 'Sloley' but surely: massive new personal best a triumph on Krystal’s journey of tears

    In every aspect of life, moments of triumph are often accompanied by tears of joy, and for Jamaican sprinter Krystal Sloley, achieving a massive personal best of 11.09 seconds was no exception. Immediately after she crossed the finish line in second position in the women’s 100m at the Jamaica Athletics Invitational, Sloley’s emotions overflowed, tears streaming down her face as she celebrated a milestone in her athletic journey.

    Many might not understand why her accomplishment is such a big deal, but for Sloley, the road to get there has been marked by challenges, setbacks, and even self-doubt. But through it all, she remained steadfast in her pursuit of excellence.

    In fact, it was only a week ago that Sloley lowered her personal best from 11.27s to 11.25s, which she took apart with the breathtaking performance behind Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou-Smith, who opened her season with an impressive 10.91s clocking at the National Stadium, on Saturday.

    “It hasn't been easy. It has been an uphill battle with my mental life and self-belief, even in warm up, I was just talking to myself, coaching myself, because my weakest point was my start and I knew that once I got that, the rest is history. I was not expecting such a fast time, maybe 11.1, but I am happy at the outcome,” Sloley said, her voice trembling with emotion.

    “It was such a pleasure to feed off of the energy of Marie and the other runners. I knew it was a high-quality field, because I was originally supposed to run in the B final, and while warming up, I realized I was in the A final against the top ladies. I really wish I had more time to prepare myself mentally before I came out here physically, but it worked out for the best,” she added.

    Sloley, who found her passion for track and field at Ardenne Preparatory, and later honed her craft at Campion College, recalled how her journey to the triumphant moment was filled with highs and lows, from gruelling training sessions to heartbreaking defeats. But with each setback, particularly now at the senior level at the University of Technology – where she is studying Architecture –she emerged stronger and more determined than ever, fuelled by a burning desire to prove herself on the world stage.

    “It was definitely hard. I would be lying if I said it was easy in terms of how I endured the training sessions, because it's not just doing training sessions with MVP (Track Club), it's the fact that I have to strike a definitive balance between not just MVP’s gruelling training, but also architecture, and to me, I feel like that's two degrees,” Sloley said with a chuckle.

    She continued: “Coming from such a rigorous academic program such as Campion and also doing track and field there, I found it manageable, and I feel like I excelled pretty well through the seven years doing both academic and track and field. But I knew that entering a new level of not just training, it's professional training, and not just regular school, it's university…It's my degree, I knew it would be a next step, but I never knew that the thread of that step would have been so steep.

    “So, it was definitely hard. I remember countless times crying on the dorm floor, wondering how I'm going to manage to strike the balance at this level. Even before I started university, it was questionable whether or not I was going to actually stop track and field to pursue the degree and then continue after, but I must say, God carried me through and here I am now.”

    As she reflected on her journey, the 22-year-old third-year student’s thoughts turned to her mother, whose unwavering support has been the driving force behind her pursuit of glory.

    "My mother is my rock, my biggest inspiration. It’s like when the momentum on the swing drops, she's been that push that you need on your back to continue swinging. She has encouraged me through it all, even those questionable doubts that I had about whether to stop track and field or pursue school,” Sloley told SportsMax.TV.

    “She's been my prayer warrior, so she has been behind me, beside me, pulling me, she's been that driving force for me, my biggest motivation. She never lived the life that she gave me, so that also motivates me to reward her for what she has done for me because I'm so grateful and thankful for her,” she shared.

    Besides her new personal best clocking, Sloley described making Jamaica’s team to the 2019 NACAC Championships as her biggest accomplishment, and with the memory of that outing in Mexico still very much fresh on her mind, she now has her sights set on repeating the feat sooner rather than later.