Barnes heads to UTSA on athletic scholarship

Double national record holder in the women’s shot put and discus, Lacee Barnes, has accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio, which competes in NCAA Division I.

She told CaymanSportsBuzz.com that while she’s anxious, “it’s definitely an honour to attend a Division I school”. Adding to her comfort is the fact that former Cayman Islands Olympian Kareem Streete-Thompson is the associate head coach for UTSA Track and Field.

“The fact that he will be there, I will definitely be a lot more comfortable…just having that support of someone who knows where you’re from,” Barnes said.

In fact, according to Barnes, it was Streete-Thompson who recruited her. “Kareem was doing recruiting and he found out about my recent success from CARIFTA last year. He kept in communication with me, finding out about my distances and eventually thought it was a good idea for me to come to the school,” she said.

The multiple time CARIFTA Games medallist said her mind was made up after a visit to Texas earlier this year.

Barnes poses with her CARIFTA gold medal in April.

In addition to the discus and shot put, the former St Ignatius Catholic School student will be learning the hammer throw at UTSA. “I’m excited,” she said about the new discipline. “I’ve always wanted to learn hammer. I’ve always said when I go to college, that’s when I’m going to try it.”

Not happy just to get there, the 2015 NatWest Island Games gold medallist in the shot put said she plans to make her presence felt for the school that competes in Conference USA. “Most freshmen don’t make it to nationals as throwers, so that’s my goal.

Barnes, who turns 18 on 19 August, also hopes her university training will help her to end her CARIFTA career on a high note. “I’m excited about CARIFTA next year. That will be my last year and having that one year of university training, I definitely see myself coming to the CARIFTA Games in the Bahamas as a rocket,” she told CaymanSportsBuzz.com.

Her rise in track and field was not always the sporting dream she had. “I was a big netballer in the early days. That was my favourite sport,” she said.

That changed when she competed in her first inter-secondary meet in 2012 and was selected for the Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT) meet in Jamaica. “I was only 12 years-old and the time and I got second with no training. So, from then track and field was it for me,” Barnes recalled.

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