21-y-o ignites fiery bobsleigh passion on ice
Anthony Ellis looking forward to sharpening skills after whetting appetite on int’l scene
Despite being dealt a bad hand in life, former state ward Anthony Ellis is striving to restructure his life to make an impactful contribution to society through sport.
The 21-year-old recently represented Jamaica in the two-man bobsleigh event at the North American Cup tournament in New York, where he operated in the capacity of the brakeman.
In an interview with The Gleaner on Monday, Ellis explained that he initially had no interest in bobsleighing as athletics has been his true passion since high school.
However, while training on the lawns of the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport, where he is currently a student, principal and head coach Maurice Wilson selected him to train for bobsleighing and to later attempt to qualify for the national team.
“I'm the type of person that anything I put my mind to, I try to accomplish it. So when coach came to me, I said, 'You know, I'm going to do it because I don't know how far it will take me or what can happen so let me just try it and see what works',” Ellis said.
After qualification, Ellis and the team perfected their training techniques and did ice training in the United States before going on to compete in March.
Ellis said that the experience was useful and that he would keep performing in that capacity, even though he and his bobsleigh partner were disqualified because the sled crashed while on the course.
“It was our first time competing internationally, but we were doing great ... . We learned a lot,” he added.
Ellis first entered state care when he was seven years old after his mother died and his father was unable to care for him and his now-18-year-old sister. They were moved from various foster homes until they were they settled with their current foster mother, Marcia Frost, who took them in in 2008.
“It was a bit challenging at some point, but I tried to remain focused in school. I couldn't let my grades fall,” he said.
Ellis was declared the 2019 regional top boy at the Child Protection and Family Services Agency North East educational achievement awards. He is also a beneficiary of the agency's Transitional Living Programme (TLP) and is presently aiming to complete his Bachelor of Physical Education.
He credits Frost for raising him to be the man he is today and instilling good values and life lessons to guide him in his quest for success.
“That carried me far. Coming up through high school, through primary school, it was a challenge because I wasn't one of the fast ones or the brightest students and I used to fail a lot,” he said of the days when he was unsettled.
But living by the adage “after every failure, there is a trial, and after every trial, there is success”, Ellis remains driven to not allow his difficult upbringing to hinder him from pursuing his ambitions.
Ellis also expressed gratitude to the TLP staffers, saying that they constantly desired to see the young people succeed.
“We can call them whenever, ask them for help if we need any, all of that. They don't leave their children out and that's good,” he said of the TLP team.
Ellis encouraged other youngsters with a difficult childhood to “always be humble” and to never give up on their dreams.