Sunday, April 22, 2012

Curtis Gilpin - 1980

Curtis Gilpin
When I was a student, there were many social events that kept campus spirit very high. One of these was a talent show called “The Hardest”. The brainchild of the Harvey Student Center dorm block, this event showcased the most unsuspecting male student at UVI as the “Star” of the evening. He would be extremely shy, very unsociable and probably not the most handsome. This individual would be convinced (or brainwashed) into being featured as the biggest star on campus or as we termed it “The Hardest”. His identity would be kept under strict secrecy until his appearance on the night of the show. The show brought the entire university community together for weeks leading up to, during, and for weeks after the event. Major bets would be made on who “The Hardest” was. The hype would be huge and anticipation the night of the show was always immeasurable.

I view the event as a significant part of UVI’s history because of the spirit that existed then, and the ability to encompass the various cultures to become one. It was a time students that came from all areas of the globe enjoyed learning from each other and an unforgettable mark was left within you. The “melting pot” of different cultures was a trademark of UVI and it continued for a long time. I learned so much from my Caribbean neighbors and I am still friends with many of them to this day.

Another memorable event that made me a believer in the university and what it stood for was a volleyball match in the local league. During my freshman year, I was committed to playing volleyball for a non-UVI team in the local Power League. I came out of high school playing under UVI P.E. Instructor Bruce Wray. Unfortunately, Coach Eldridge Blake began a volleyball program at UVI which also entered the league that year. We had won the league the previous year and I was looking forward to playing against the UVI team. Bear in mind, I was living in the residence halls and there was a lot of talk about the meeting of the teams. Well, the teams met and UVI defeated us in a tough match. Needless to say, I had to catch a ride back to the dorms in the UVI van!!! I took a major verbal beating all of the way from the CAHS gym to the UVI campus!

Unidentified student, Joan Looby, Curtis Gilpin and
Noreen Michael at January 1978 CVI registration.
I remember feeling so alone for the next week on campus. The UVI team practiced hard and often and rumors of how tough Coach Blake was kept me away from joining the UVI team until the following year. Needless to say, I flourished under Blake and absorbed everything he taught. I developed as one of the best all-around players in the game and UVI won locally, throughout the Caribbean, on the mainland and in Canada. I eventually ended up coaching at CAHS and Antilles and now at UVI. Team sports at UVI have molded numerous individuals whom have gone on to develop and coach at various islands and on the mainland. The impact is tremendous in the Caribbean and includes places such as Tortola, St. Kitts, Antigua, Santo Domingo, St. Eustatius, Dominica, Anguilla and St. Maarten. 

Curtis Gilpin is now Associate Athletic Director at UVI.

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