The number of Bahamians being afforded scholarships because of their athletic talents continues to grow.
Tonique Williams, one of the great sports ambassadors produced by this country, is of the view that the time has come for preparation seminars to be organized to aid the young athletes.
In fact, she thinks a stronger focus should be put on athletes once they reach Grade 10 in high school, to give them a comprehensive idea of what to expect when they are no longer in the local environment.
" It makes a big difference. When you are at home, just about everything is done for you. In the instances when you have to go the independent route with situations, still assistance comes from parents, coaches, guardians or friends.
" Once you go abroad, there is a whole lot on your shoulders with you alone to deal with whatever you face.
" I believe as a rule, we now ought to start thinking about holding seminars that will enable student/athletes to be better able to make the adjustment from high school at home to college life abroad," Williams said recently.
Williams, the most successful individual quarter-miler in Bahamian history, knows of the hurdles college students are confronted with.
" Actually, it starts early and many are caught unaware of the requirements for college/university.
" For instance, it is important to have an understanding about travel documents, inclusive of passports and visas.
" In many cases, the process begins much too late," added Williams.
In truth there have been occasions when travel had to be delayed because of a lack of documents.
Not only have student athletes been late in getting the necessary travel documents locally, the times have been many when the appropriate registration documents for the respective institutions have not been in hand on the proposed travel date.
Williams laments the situation that she says prevails despite the huge increase in scholarship opportunities.
She thinks it is important for those organizations or individuals who recruit athletes, to recognize the responsibility as well to prepare them for the totally new scene they will encounter.
For example, student athletes ought to be educated about the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), its various divisions and what "being a student athlete means and dictates."
Williams also referred to curfew, discipline, currency, unfamiliar surroundings, all of which first-time student athletes have to deal with.
The former Olympic, World Champion and best 400 meters female in the world is passionate about the "preparation" approach.
There is a wide body of "DOs" and "DON'Ts" that the student athlete should know of before they leave home.
Responding appropriately to their coaches, relating to training schedules, learning everything they need to know about their events, recognizing their status as ambassadors, are big priorities, says Williams.
In a nutshell, Williams says preparation seminars are the answer.
The aforementioned pointed out by Williams, have long been glossed over, unfortunately.
Hopefully with Williams now taking the initiative, others will come to grips with the situation.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com).