Sports

Moxey retells his story of meeting coach Bodie during Bodie's Memorial service

by: Andrew Coakley, Sports Editor

It was coach Errol Bodie who helped to nurture and develop one of the Caribbean's fastest runners in the 70s, Ricky Moxey.

To hear Moxey tell the story of how he got to come under the tutelage of coach Bodie, is to take a walk through history, revealing a coach who had the ability to motivate, inspire and bring out the best in a human being.

As Ricky would tell it, he was just a little boy from Andros, with no worries, just running around, wild and free.

After Ricky's parents moved to Freeport, Ricky, who was at the age of 12 at the time, attended Hawksbill High School and although he had dominated the sprint races in his hometown of Andros, with the move to Freeport, Ricky had become –  small fish, in a big pond."

At the time, there was a kid in Hawksbill who went by the name of Wilfred and he was then considered to be the fastest boy in the school.

Of course, coming from an environment where he was known as the fastest, Ricky made the mistake of letting people know that he could beat Wilfred on the track.

" They were going around and saying that Wilfred was the fastest boy in the entire school, and I had a problem with that,"  Ricky remembered.

" Word got out that the boy from Andros said that he could beat Wilfred.

" So, it was during House sports, we got out there to run the 100m. Everyone stood on the side of the track and we lined up for the race.

" Wilfred was cocky and he came out there in these sprints and I had never seen sprints before and so I said to myself, this boy got nails in his shoes!

" So, when they told us to get on our marks, I saw Wilfred went down like he was in the blocks, I was wondering what he was doing, because all I ever did was just bend over and get ready to run.

" So when we took off and I reached the finish line, I didnâ t know about slowing down, I just stopped. When I looked back, Wilfred was still coming.

" So then everyone started to come towards me, and thatâ s when I break off running." 

Moxey said that Coach Errol Bodie was there on the sidelines and after the race, Bodie approached him and told him something he would never forget.

" He told me that I could be among the best in the world,"  Moxey remembered. "I told him that I was just a boy from Andros.

" He was talking about the world and I could not comprehend that at the time. But he believed it and he took me under his wings and coached me and slowly I began to see what he told me so many years ago begin coming to pass." 

Ricky went on to become known as one of the fastest 100m sprinters throughout the Caribbean and made his mark on the international circuit.

When Moxey graduated high school, coach Bodie took Ricky and a few others from Grand Bahama to a meet in Florida, where Ricky impressed college coaches.

The U.S. college coaches approached Bodie about getting Moxey to attend their college, but Bodie said they could have him, as long as they were also willing to take a few other Grand Bahamian athletes on scholarship.

" That was the way coach Bodie was, he didnâ t just look out for one athlete, he made sure that other Bahamian athletes got that chance for higher education,"  said Moxey.

" As coaches, that's how we have to be. We can't afford to be selfish. We have to look at the bigger picture and we have to do what we can to inspire our athletes to bring out the best in them." 

Moxey, who is presently a coach living in Exuma said that he would not miss the memorial service that was held for coach Bodie on Friday night at the Mary Star auditorium.

Ricky flew into Freeport for the Memorial as well as for the funeral service, which was held on Saturday morning, which was attended by hundreds of family members, friends and athletes whom coach Bodie motivated and inspired.

During the memorial service there was no singing, not that many tears, only great memories and reflections of how much the life of coach Errol Bodie touched so many in Grand Bahama.

Many had gathered to give their respects and to compare story notes of their times when their lives crossed paths with coach Bodie.

There were coaches, educators, politicians, friends and family of coach Bodie who had gathered for the special service before the official Home Going service on Saturday morning at Mary Star Catholic Church.

Well wishers had flown in from Nassau, Turks & Caicos islands and other parts of the world to be a part of the weekend services for coach Bodie.

On hand to give his condolences and to pay his respects to coach Bodie was president of the Bahamas Amateur Athletic Association Mike Sands, who said that he and coach Bodie had developed a friendship based on their love for the sport of track and field.

A well-known public fall out between the two in 1976 made the memorial service for Sands a bitter-sweet one.

However, Sands noted that even after their fall out in 1976, he and Bodie repaired their friendship to some degree because they both still loved and served the sport of track and field.

" I've come to pay homage to someone who has contributed for a long time and who has impacted many athletic lives, including my own,"  said Sands.

Sands told of how he met coach Bodie while attending school in Brooklyn, New York in the early 70s, when Bodie sought out Sands to officially meet him, after following Sandsâ track career for some time. That was 40 plus years ago, and it was when Sands and Bodieâ s friendship had begun.

In 1976, the two crossed hairs and their friendship had taken a blow.

" When I became president of the BAAA and Bodie was still a coach, we mended our friendship, although not to the same way it was at the beginning,"  said Sands.

" But we did what we had to do for the love of the sport of track and field.

" There is no denying that Errol Bodie made the difference in the lives of so many athletes, not just in Grand Bahama, but throughout The Bahamas, and for that we should all be grateful." 

Attorney Harvey Tynes, a long time friend of coach Errol Bodie reminded those who attended Friday's Memorial Service of Bodie's upbringing which started some 60 years ago on a street called Odel Corner in Nassau.

On the street and within that neighborhood was the home of Sir Lynden Pindling, Cynthia â Mother⠝ Pratt, Gerald Bartlett, former Commissioner of Police, and the neighborhood of Errol Bodie.

" In 1953, Errol was 13 years old,"  remembered Tynes. "He was confident, good looking and athletic, smart and he could run.

" At the age of eight, I wanted to be like Errol. He eventually became the greatest track and field coach this country has ever seen.

" I have come, in solemn reverence to venerate a man of nobility and grandeur, a man exalted in thought and expression, a man of immense intellectual and moral worth. I have come to pay homage to you, my brother and my friend.

" I know that you lived well, laughed often and sometimes cried, but in the end you filled you niche in life and accomplished your task. I know that you always looked for the best in others and gave the best that you had." 

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