When the discussion comes to great Bay Islands athletes, most hear the name Georgie or Shannon Welcome, members of the Honduran National Soccer team who grew up in El Swampo in Coxen Hole. Mix in a few stand-out baseball players over the years and there you have it, Roatan’s athletic past, right?
But where are all the volleyball players? The Bay Islands, with such a high number of beaches, especially on Roatan, should be teeming with sets, spikes, and volleys along with the perpetual thud when chest meets sand. When walking through West End or West Bay it is a rare occasion to spot a group of more than six huddling around a net, at least persons that can feign some sort of athleticism. It seems as though in the realm of sport, volleyball, considered a distinctly island game, has taken a backseat. However this is changing and with the help of one of Roatan’s very own living legends amongst them, perhaps this will change.
Growing up in Coxen Hole and earning his education in Tegucigalpa, James Woods is a four-time Central American MVP, two-time Central American gold medalist, Honduran National Player of the Year from 1993 through 2008, as well being named the Honduran volleyball Player of the Century. It seems as though there is little this man has not accomplished in the game. Yet, with all the accolades and recognition, James is at a crossroads. The journey for a professional athlete in this country is not easy, especially with a game that does not earn the level of recognition as others. While his knowledge of both indoor (his forte) and beach volleyball continues to grow, with the passage of time his body is going the other direction. It’s time to pass the torch and complete the always tricky transition from player to coach, competitor to mentor. Cuny Miller, a native of West End has been playing since he was twelve, meeting James almost ten years later ultimately winning the 2008 national championship as partners. However, the last couple years, without the money the federation grants the national champions and coinciding with the crippling recession Roatan businesses have experienced, the road has gotten arduous for James and Cuny. “It might be the dream of an athlete, but it’s not the dream of this nation.” reflects Woods, who has grown tired of the constant out-of-pocket expenses he incurs while doing what he feels is a service to his country. Cuny put it this way: “You have to work and pay your bills, but then you have to train everyday and after all that, you’ve got to go find money to play. It can be too much sometimes”
However neither is throwing in the towel but instead looking forward to using their skills in volleyball to benefit their community. Forming the Bay Island Improvement Association, Woods and Miller hope to extend the privilege of a good education and athletics that especially James was so fortunate enough to experience as an academic athlete. “Every one of us has a dream when (you’re) a kid, what we do is try to stick with that dream for when they’re older, because as life wears you down, people get off track” remarks James. Perhaps the next great something could come from what James and Cuny hand down. Only time will tell. Let us all try to stay on track and lead by example. [/private]