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Vanessa Bobb - UWI Sportswoman of the Year

 An avid netballer, Vanessa Bobb is adept at juggling and displaying a mastery on and off court that has helped her to manage several roles at once: being a mother; national netballer and club captain; employee and full-time student. 
A full list of the many responsibilities she already has with at age 22 would leave many breathless. Yet, with the help of family, friends and supportive classmates, the lifelong sports enthusiast keeps shooting for more goals.
Given her stellar achievements and relentless drive for personal growth and development, it is no wonder that she was chosen by the Academy of Sport, Cave Hill as a nominee for the UWI Vice-Chancellor’s Sportswoman of the Year award for 2019.
Vanessa, who is set to graduate with a BSc in Sport Sciences in October, won the title from a field of four women that included fellow Cave Hill student and footballer, Cadijah Mars.
Sportsman of the Year award went to Jordan Reynos, hockey player at St. Augustine Campus, who triumphed among a field of six nominees.
Vanessa speaks modestly about her sporting and academic accomplishments – often achieved with limited sleep but nourished with nutritious meals and ample fluids. She brightens, however, when recalling the surreal feeling of walking away with the prestigious award.
When they were announcing Sportswoman of the Year [at The UWI Games Opening Ceremony], they said the winner was from Cave Hill … but when I heard my name, I was shocked. I even cried a little. As I heard the announcer reading my bio, I realised that it really was me,” Vanessa recollected. “It really hit me again when I returned to work, and I realised that my office had sent out an email to let everyone know that I had won …,” the customer services representative said.
Vanessa’s family was also proud of her regional award, reminding her that it demonstrated that, while it seemed she was working under the radar, people were taking notice of her hard work and dedication.
Awardees are selected from a field of UWI student athletes who display excellence in their athletic disciplines and are succeeding academically, while personifying the spirit of the university through volunteerism and participation in campus life.
In addition to representing Cave Hill in netball and volleyball at the biennial UWI Games, Vanessa captains the Pine Hill St Barnabas’s senior netball team – a team she joined as a third form student at Queen’s College.
Last September, as part of that club’s community outreach efforts, the team adopted the Nightengale Children’s Home, offering netball 101 among the activities.
“The girls are excited and willing to learn, and we get to know their names and personalities so we know how to deal with them [individually],” Vanessa said of the initiative. “I think that every sport in Barbados should give back, especially to the children’s homes because there is talent there that we don’t know of …”
The netballer, who has been described in local media as a “strong defender and adept midcourt player”, is also a member of the national team, having represented Barbados at the junior, under-21 and senior levels. Most recently, she played in the 2018 Commonwealth Games held in Australia.
Vanessa told CHILL Magazine that her passion for the sport began in primary school, fostered by encouraging teachers and an aunt who also played the game: “I was always decent, and as time went on, I got better at it,” she said with a shy smile.
Vanessa continued with the sport through secondary school and into her tertiary education. However, the athlete confessed that the juggling act became harder to manage at The UWI.
“Some days I would be finishing at 8 [p.m.], and I would still have to tell myself that I should revise even though I was up since 6 [a.m.]. Sometimes I would crash or… stay up until 2 [a.m.] so I could finish a paper or study. You have to try to balance it … but also know when you need help.”
Vanessa was first admitted into Cave Hill to study Sociology with Law, but she did not fare well with this choice: “After the first year, I failed two of the law courses … I had a friend who was doing sports science courses, so I read up about it. I told my mother that the Sociology with Law degree was not for me and [that] I wanted to do the Sports Sciences degree, since it would help me to understand sports more, both on and off the court …
“I switched and my grades got better. Also, since mostly sportspersons are doing the programme, the teamwork is definitely there … I was able to form bonds and know that if I was struggling that there is someone who is willing to help.”
This is particularly needed when the time came to compete in tournaments overseas.
“I also found that the teachers in the programme are understanding because they appreciate the demands of sportspersons, especially national athletes. They set a high standard, but they are understanding.”
Vanessa intends to pursue studies at the master’s level come September, and has applied to Cave Hill’s Tourism and Sport Management programme.
Ultimately, she has set her sights on giving back to the sport that has provided many opportunities for her: an objective which, with her steady aim and unruffled resolve, could become her most satisfying goal of all time.


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