Sunday, April 8, 2012

Laurent (Jav) D. Javois - 1976

Laurent Javois
In February 1974, during my sophomore year at the College of the Virgin Islands, I had the privilege of participating in a week-long journey to Jamaica that was educational and enjoyable. Coach Gene Werts, who is best known for his accomplishments as head basketball coach at CVI, somehow managed to arrange a trip to the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies. Interestingly, the group that traveled with Coach Werts was not the hoops team but the soccer team comprised of students from the Virgin Islands and several other Caribbean islands.

The players and coaching staff alike were thrilled to learn that we were traveling to Jamaica, the land of Reggae music and the birthplace of the Rastafarian movement. The competition to make the final cut was earnest. After the team was selected, the players continued to train hard knowing that Jamaica was among the top two or three Caribbean countries in the sport of soccer. The intense preparation resulted in a close-knit team that enjoyed playing together on the pitch as well as socializing off the field.

Fortunately for us, Patrick Anthony, who had attended school in Jamaica, was a member of the team. Patrick briefed the group on Jamaican culture, music, food, language and other customs. Armed with this information and the security of having a knowledgeable “tour guide” we were ready to take Jamaica by storm.

The flights between St Thomas and Kingston were uneventful. However, we were unprepared for the number of young men in Jamaica who wore dreadlocks, a relatively new development in the Virgin Islands at the time. Equally surprising was the size of the country and the noticeable poverty in some areas contrasted by the obvious affluence in others. On the university campus, both the staff and students were courteous but not as friendly as some of us expected. We were, however, greeted warmly by Dr. Simon Jones-Hendrickson, a CVI alumnus and economics professor at UWI.

On the playing field we were routed in the first match. We could not have anticipated the relentless pressure and high level of skill that our opponents unleashed. Following the match, we licked our wounds and committed ourselves to display CVI pride with our play the following day. The consensus was that although UWI’s team was more skilled, we could have a good outing the next day by outworking our opponents. And we did. The entire CVI team gave maximum effort for 90 minutes. The final score of the second match was nil-nil (0-0). Naturally, we celebrated as though CVI had won the Caribbean championship.

The remainder of my time was spent mostly learning about the degree programs at UWI, speaking with faculty and students, and attending various activities on campus. The greatest personal thrill on the visit came when I attended a professional cricket match between England and the West Indies. It was incredibly exciting to see Clive Lloyd, the great captain of the West Indies’ team and players like Alvin Kallicharran, Roy Fredericks and Lawrence Rowe in action.
Unfortunately, my stay in Jamaica was cut short because I contracted chicken pox. I was advised to leave the day after being diagnosed or face the prospect of remaining in Jamaica for 10 days without my teammates. The great CVI defender Stanley Chalon accompanied me on the trip back to St. Thomas the following day.

Laurent Javois – UVI 1976 Yearbook
Although it was not clear back in 1974, that trip to Jamaica was an example of the role CVI has played in the growth of individuals and the Caribbean as a region. The college provided opportunities for intellectual and social growth that facilitated the political and economic development of the region. The exposure to other islands, and more importantly the people of the greater Caribbean was invaluable. The opportunities to experience and exhibit CVI pride and to learn the importance of giving maximum personal effort were invaluable. The bonds formed with teammates and coaches transcend time. Finally, the lessons learned about benefits of teamwork continue to shape my views about leadership and organizational success. Although those lessons were learned away from the CVI campus, they are to my mind intimately connected to that great institution. 

Laurent D. Javois is Regional Executive Officer with the Missouri Department of Mental Health. He is responsible for the operation of three psychiatric hospitals and state funded community mental health and alcohol and drug abuse services for eastern Missouri.

1 comment:

  1. I'm just a traveler who has been coming to the USVI for more than 30 years, but I saw this link on Facebook. What an outstanding group of people associated with the UVI!


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