By Jamila Cross
Family support abounds for talented student athlete Rae-Anne Serville who has been a member of the Memphis Pioneers Athletic Club for the last nine years. She got her introduction to track and field as a student at St Monica’s Preparatory School. Today, she serves as Head Girl at St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain. She attributes much of her success to consistently seeking excellence: “Be prepared to work hard, be consistent because it is not easy (being an athlete), but it is rewarding.”
At age ten, she was selected for the first time to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the Caribbean Union of Teachers’ Conference Games held in Jamaica. She’s competed at the 2018 World Juniors in Finland and qualified for CARIFTA Games from 2017 to 2019. Last year, she also competed in the Pan Am Games in Costa Rica, and the North American, Central American and Caribbean Championships (NACAC) held in Mexico.
Her journey has not been easy, having to balance a hectic school and athletic schedule, but this appears to have given her much more discipline as she came in the top 90 students in the Caribbean in Biology and Environmental Sciences in her Cape exams.
As for her athletic side, her weekly training routine occurs 4–6 p.m., Monday to Friday with gym sessions three times weekly. She is supported by highly qualified coaches Antonia Burton and Dr Ian Hypolite who have not only dealt with her physical preparation, but she states that ‘Doc’ is always ready to talk to her through any doubts or worries which helps sharpen her mental focus.
“Training sessions begin with a warmup, everyone does it together but it’s still pretty much an individual activity. After our warmup, we stretch, do specific exercises and drills to get our body prepared for the more intense part of training. My coaches monitor our workouts and ensure that we have proper running form and technique.”
Rae-Anne is not only a competent student athlete, but she is also socially involved as a member of the Valley Angels Steel Orchestra and is an altar server at the Church of the Nativity, Crystal Stream.
Rae-Anne however admits that it has not all been a bed of roses — she has had to consistently deal with injuries and knows all too well what it takes to build herself back up after injury and to minimise and prevent others.
I asked her how she deals with setbacks when races do not go according to her plans. “I haven’t won every single race that I take part in, but I have to treat them as learning experiences and figure out what went wrong or where I need to improve to do better the next time.”
Rae-Anne has officially been awarded a full athletic scholarship to the University of Southern California where she will attend next fall. There, she plans to focus on her academics and hopes to enjoy every aspect of her university experience. She also has her heart set on representing Trinidad and Tobago in the 2024 Olympics.
She believes that the persons who have had the greatest influence in her life would be her mother as well as her coaches. Ultimately however, she admits that it all falls on her to have the correct mindset and to do the things her body requires to perform.
“In sport, success is triumphantly receiving the desired end result after being challenged and really applying oneself to overcoming that challenge.”
Jamila Cross is a triathlete, former professional footballer for Sevilla FC women’s Club Spain, and mother of three boys Tishad, Akim and Santiago. She is the founder of the Mariama Foundation, a registered non-profit organisation raising the storytelling bar for the Caribbean’s female athletes.