by Charles Gladden
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Dec. 29, 2022
Darren Bovell, known as one of the most outstanding basketball players and coaches in Belize’s history, has been lending his expertise to the coaching staff of OnPoint Academy in Oklahoma, where he serves as an assistant coach and strength and conditioning coach.
OnPoint Academy, which is located in El Reno, Oklahoma (25 miles away from Oklahoma City), is a post-grad program designed to prepare high school postgraduate athletes for their future. The academy caters to student-athletes who are looking for that extra step to prepare themselves for the next level – professionally, athletically, or education-wise.
“The opportunity is well appreciated by myself, to be a Belizean and get a job like this, and it’s an opportunity not only for me, but I will be making opportunity for players from Belize, both male and female, because I’ve already been asked about female athletes in Belize and the opportunities that they have and the opportunities that can be given where I’m at,” Bovell said.
“… For next June coming, I am looking for at least three female players who want to become professional ballers or get an education in their talent. This is not an opportunity for me, but for Belize and Belizean people. I am going to share whatever I can with them, it’s not only about me,” he added.
When AMANDALA interviewed Bovell this week, he provided some insights into what created the type of excellence that prompted a US educational institution to seek his skills.
Bovell grew up in a single-mother household with his two other siblings and was raised primarily by his grandmother. He first developed an affinity for sports when he was a Standard 4 student at St. John’s Primary School, where he first got involved in playing football—excelling as a goalkeeper due to his hand-to-eye coordination. However, in his first year at Anglican Cathedral College (ACC), previously known as St. Hilda’s College and St. Michael’s College, he developed a passion for playing basketball.
At the age of 19 years old, fresh out of high school, Bovell, who at that time had already gained a reputation as a highly skilled basketball player, got his first opportunity to coach basketball in Belize at Pallotti High School (PHS), an all-girls school, for two years. In 1990, he moved on from coaching at PHS and became a coach at Wesley College (high school) for one year—securing a championship for the school while he was there. Notable players on that championship roster were: Clinton Fuller, Nelbert Flowers, and Marlon Myers.
After a successful season at Wesley College, Bovell ventured to Mexico, where he professionally played basketball for 17 years.
In 2006, Bovell returned to Belize, where he was hired by the University of Belize alongside Claude “Too Tall” Jones as an assistant coach under the tutelage of Kevin Seroki. After Seroki departed from the university 5 years later, Bovell was named head coach and won multiple collegiate championships.
Notably, Bovell has also coached at the semi-pro level in Belize, and won several championships—three with the San Pedro Tiger Sharks and two with the Belize Hurricanes.
In reference to the success of the teams he coached, Bovell told AMANDALA, “It’s not me; we had a very good group of players, and along with my work ethic, and I used to train very hard, so I am not easy on the players that I coach. My team is always going to be in good condition, because that’s all I know, I’m going to do. I’m going to work hard, and I transfer that to the players that I coach and groom them in that way so that they also work hard.”
Bovell noted that his friend, Clinton “Pulu” Lightburn, once said to him that his 38 years of basketball experience and knowledge can be compared to four doctorate degrees.
He also gave some advice to Belizean coaches who are seeking opportunities similar to those he has received.
“Belize is not the skyline; it’s not the final destination where you can be; there are so many limited things that you can do in Belize. But if you reach out and better yourself, that’s the first thing. You got to be in all the courses, all the clinics you got to participate in. Don’t be afraid to fail, as long as you take away one thing every time you fail,” he said.