The St. Kitts and Nevis Olympic Committee (SKNOC) named Donnell Esdaille as the Head Coach of the St. Kitts-Nevis Olympic Team selected for the Rio Olympics. We had the chance to catch up with Coach Esdaille to get his thoughts on his athletic journey and becoming the head coach.
Coach Esdaille, congrats on your new gig. Tell us about your start in Track and Field.
Thank you very much. I had an unusual start in track and field. I was never one who was on the radar of selectors. One day I was challenged by a young athlete to a fun race and I was able to beat him… twice. I was already 22 years of age. Coach Rawle Isaac thought there was some talent in me and invited me to train and that’s how I got into the sport officially.
What benefits did you enjoy as an athlete?
Firstly, I was able to hone my skills when selected to be a part of the national training squad. I then became involved in the Extreme Velocity Track Club and after two years I secured a scholarship because of my athletic ability at Paul Quinn College where I excelled at the conference level, becoming champion in the 100m and 200m for three (3) consecutive years while pursuing my degree there.
When did you start coaching and how has it been going?
While studying at Paul Quinn College, I was also heavily involved in the management of the track team and realised my affinity for coaching. My teammates at the time accepted my leadership role and methods utilised and it is said that this helped our team to win conference titles. After graduation, I returned to St. Kitts where I continued to advance my athletic coaching career. I was given the opportunity to lead the Track and Field team at the Washington Archibald High School and I am proud that I was able to lead the high schoolers to three (3) championships. One of the highlights of my coaching career, was being named the Head Coach of the 2015 St. Kitts- Nevis team for the Carifta Games, held on home soil. It was a challenge I embraced and I was happy for the opportunity to work with the national junior and youth athletes at home. Along with the other coaches and specialty staff, we were able to surpass our medal expectations. Actually, the 2015 team is the most successful ever in the history of the coun
try’s athletics at that level. Another highlight is the elevation to Head Coach of the Rio Olympics team. Coaching has been simply enjoyable.
How did you feel when asked to be the Head Coach for Rio 2016?
When I was approached I was very honoured and thankful for the opportunity and quickly went into planning and work mode. Some expected me to knock glasses and celebrate but I had to quickly begin focusing on achieving success.
What do you find most rewarding about coaching?
What is most rewarding is seeing how coaching changes lives for the better especially when the athletes begin to embrace the values instilled. To this day, I firmly believe that good coaching produces not only great athletes but outstanding citizens.
What is the one thing you preach to all your athletes?
The one thing I preach to my athletes is the importance of disciplined preparation. The race is won in the preparation phase. So come ‘Race Day’, it should be very easy to achieve success because of disciplined preparation.
What does the future hold for Coach Esdaille?
I am hoping that I will still continue to make a difference in the lives of many through athletics. I’ll wait and see what God has in store for me and my family.
Do you have any special talents?
I do have some talents besides coaching which bring balance to my life. I’m also a musician. I am member of the Music Department at the Rehoboth Apostolic Church in St. Kitts and I’ve played with a number of gospel groups over the years.
Is there one surprising thing about you that most persons do not know?
I am very much into FAMILY. I am a family man, married for sixteen years to my lovely wife Ifuela and we have one son, Dante with whom I enjoy quiet family moments. They are always very supportive of my endeavours and I am truly grateful. In appreciation I try to spend quality time with them.