OVER a year ago, Newsday featured multiple national record-breaker and the region’s number-one ranked woman compound archer Priyanka Dhanie, highlighting the then 21-year-old’s growing list of sporting milestones on the national and regional stage.
Since then, Dhanie has shifted her focus primarily to a balancing act of two other pursuits, coaching children in archery, while continuing her studies in sports science at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Faculty of Sport in Cave Hill, Barbados, where she is on a scholarship.
Dhanie, from Gasparillo, was recently granted a Dean’s Student-Athlete Award, the first of its kind from any of UWI’s four campuses, and an award inaugurated after a recommendation was made by the student-athlete adviser to the dean, who noticed Dhanie’s exceptional assortment of accomplishments in both sport and academics.
“I’m really excited to honour the Blackbird (Cave Hill’s mascot) name with these achievements, especially as it’s also a first for archery to be recognised this way at the UWI,” Dhanie told Newsday from Barbados, saying she was speechless on hearing the news.
“I’m proud,” she said, “because it highlights the academic side of my efforts over the last couple years.”
Students must maintain a grade point average of more than 3.0 to qualify as a nominee for the Dean’s List.
She did just that, comfortably, and with some extra achievements to make the student-athlete adviser Kathryn Stewart and by extension, the dean, Aksai Mansingh, take notice.
“A number of student-athletes met some of the criteria listed (above), but Priyanka Dhanie exemplified the characteristics of a well-rounded student-athlete,” Mansingh wrote in a letter to TT Archery Federation president Gregory Quesnel, who sought more information on his star athlete’s recent award.
The letter continued: “This year, names were submitted for candidates who met the requirements...from St Augustine, Mona, Open Campus, and Cave Hill Campus. A number of student-athletes met some of the criteria listed...but Priyanka Dhanie exemplified the characteristics of a well-rounded student-athlete.
“Priyanka ticked all the boxes required and her athletic bio speaks of even more accomplishments.”
Stewart, the student-athlete adviser, was also quoted in the letter, describing Dhanie as a “very disciplined young lady,” whose “time management skills has allowed her to be where she is today.”
“Priyanka continues to excel in a discipline which is not as highly recognised as track and field and soccer in today’s world,” Stewart wote, “Yet, she continues to prove why she is a true champion not only in the classroom but also in archery. Priyanka’s sporting bio not only speaks to discipline as a champion but also her love to develop younger minds through coaching.”
She has sometimes had to miss classes to travel for competitions, yet “Priyanka has still be able to maintain a semester and cumulative GPA above 3.00,” added Stewart.
Dhanie told Newsday, “I wasn’t always the student to stand out or do particularly well in classes, growing up, and I wasn’t always good at sports. But it’s not about seeking perfection, it’s all about passion and effort.
“When you implement that effort into your life, that’s where transformation happens. It will become a reality if you refuse to quit.
“Embrace where you are now and look forward to the success you will achieve,” she continued. “Keep going and remember why you started. You are the only one responsible for your future.”
Dhanie refused to take full credit, saying, “I could not have done with without my loved ones and their limitless support and encouragement.”
Since 2017, Dhanie has pursued USA archery Level I and II certification. She has performed as coach in a number of capacities, most notably with STRA Shooting Sports for the Duke of Edinburgh’s President’s Award for the past two years.
She was also made a strength and conditioning coach at South Arrows Archery Club’s summer camp this year.
Her talent, resolve and spotless reputation also saw foreign archery apparel and merchandise brands take notice, as she was made ambassador for four companies: Stanislawski Archery, Shrewd Archery, ArcheryBum, Famme Sportswear.
In addition to the sport scholarship at UWI Cave Hill, Dhanie also won one from the Students’ Excellence in Sports Awards and the Emerging Leaders of the Americas and Caricom for a study-abroad programme.
Her focus right now, she says, is to complete her undergraduate degree, a BSc in sport science, with concentrations in exercise science and coaching, which she hopes to complete in December, while she balances one other act, a side job at the university gym.
“When I complete the programme, I plan to continue representing TT and contribute to promoting sport in the country. I’m confident these experiences and my studies will allow me to continue being an asset to other elite athletes in archery, and other sports as well.” But that won’t be the end of her studies, she added, saying the next step is a master’s degree and other coaching certifications.