Arnold Henry – Business Personality

| January 4, 2012

Author Arnold Henry

This interview of this month’s Personality Of The Month, St Lucian basketball enthusiast and author Arnold Henry was conducted by CaribDirect’s Malachi McPherson.

CaribDirect: You are the first Saint Lucian national to receive a full basketball scholarship as a freshman to the NCAA Division 1. What other Lucian talents should the world look out for?

Answer: Growing up on the island, I came across many talented individuals, both academically and athletically, who weren’t as fortunate as me to have received scholarships or enough resources to purse their dreams. I believe that they were force to turn their backs on what they could have been, that is, an outstanding individual. On the other hand, I know of a few Saint Lucians who did not allow their talents to go to waste, such as, my former National Teammate and Secondary School classmate, Levern Spencer—a national record holder in the women’s high jump. The world can also look out for male high jumper, Darvin Edwards. Also, another former National teammate, Erma-Gene Evans for her talents in the women’s javelin event. And lastly, my little BIG brother, 6-feet-10-inches, Aloysius Henry who is going through his last year of playing college basketball at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. There are many more athletes but these are the few who I kept up-to-date with.
CaribDirect: What or who inspired you to play basketball?

Answer: I was inspired by the game of basketball after witnessing a breathtaking performance by Michael Jordan at the 2008 NBA finals. Michael Jordan, the greatest player to ever play the game; need I say more? Furthermore, I was influenced to pursue the game after attending and supporting my School’s team—Entrepot Secondary School—at the annual Inter-Secondary Schools Basketball Competition. And of course, impressing girls had a minor role; just kidding.

CaribDirect: What special qualities do you possess that you believe placed you at the front of your game?

Answer: When it came down to basketball, I had no talent at all; I was raw. The special qualities that I possess came from my mother. As her oldest child, I’ve watched her struggle to raise her children and despite all the obstacles that were set forth against her, my mother would never give up being a good parent. These types of qualities or attitudes I’ve learned from my mother encouraged me to believe that hard work, perseverance, and believing in God will make me excel in the game of basketball. So with an understanding of knowing that there’ll be brighter days, I continue to become a better basketball player by hitting the gym 4-6 hours a day.
CaribDirect: Your autobiography is called ‘Hanging onto My Dreams’ referring to your basketball career as a boy growing up in St Lucia. Was basketball always your primary focus?

Answer: No. I had a love for Track and Field before I even knew how to bounce a basketball. During my teenage years, I tried my best to keep a balance between the two sports. Eventually, I turned my back on Track and Field after I was presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity, that was accepting a full basketball scholarship to Massanutten Military Academy of Woodstock, Virginia where I spent the first of my five schools in the United States.

CaribDirect: How did the decision to write your autobiography come about?

Answer: I’ve kept diaries/journals since I was 10 years old. One day, sitting in my room in Jacksonville, Florida, USA, I reflected on all my entries and realised that my story can be beneficial to someone facing similar challenges as they pursue their own dreams. In sharing my life story and my commitment to hang on to my dreams, I’m hoping that my book can generate inspiration for people of all ages.
CaribDirect: Give us one word to describe your book?

Answer: Resilience.
CaribDirect: What would you consider the highlight of your career so far?

Answer: As far as college basketball, I would say that my highlight was being able to play all my eligible years and, at the end of it all, graduating with my Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information Systems regardless of attending five different schools in five years. And basketball wise, like the title of my book states, I’m still Hanging On To My Dreams to someday be able to play professional basketball; I believe the time is near. As an author, inspiring lives on a daily basis.
CaribDirect: We know you are working on another book based on your life, do you think you will write any fictional texts?

Answer: There is a fictional story that has been developing in my thoughts. After I’ve completed my second book, I will consider working on my first fantasy fiction novel for my third book.
CaribDirect: What do you love and miss most about St Lucia?

Answer: It will take a book for me to completely answer this question. Briefly, I miss being in the presence of my mother. She surely knows how to make a Saint Lucian feel like home, in terms of her home cook meals, local juices, her love, support and comfort, to name a few. I miss my circle of friends and our everyday jokes, our Kweyol dialect, community parties, playing basketball and Sunday church services. I haven’t had a sea-bath in years, so I miss the beautiful scenery and fresh sea-breeze that comes from our beaches. I miss visiting our historical attractions at Pigeon Pointe, Morne Fortune; the UNESCO site of Gros Piton and Petit Piton; and one of the world’s few drive-in volcanoes. Of course, I miss our annual events such as the Jazz Festivals, Carnivals, and the sounds of our local Soca and Calypso Music. To sum it all up, I miss everything Saint Lucia has to offer.
CaribDirect: How does your St. Lucian heritage have a bearing on your career? i.e. books and basketball style?

Answer: As a Saint Lucian writer, I wanted to establish my loyalty to my birthplace. Growing up on the island, we were introduced to many ancient folklore traditions that I believe shows our uniqueness and creativity. In my story, I tried my best to enlighten the world with my culture and the place where I was born and raised. I incorporated many of our Saint Lucian slangs and ways of life within the contents of my book. Saint Lucia has great writers such as Nobel Prize winner in Literature, Derek Walcott—I’m hoping to live up to these types of expectations.

Playing basketball in Saint Lucia was the best days of my life. During my school years, I remembered having the best audiences; the school spirit from our supporters displayed a lot of passionate for the game.
CaribDirect: When was the last time you went back to St. Lucia? How do you think it has changed since when you were growing up?

Answer: Ever since I left Saint Lucia in 2003, I’ve tried my best to visit at least once a year. The last time I was on the island was in the month of May, 2010 for the burial of my biological father. Throughout the years of visiting the island, I’ve noticed that many developments of roads, infrastructures; and the hotel industry was filling up our beaches.

One thing I would like to point out is the interest for basketball was steadily decreasing. And I believe that goes back to the fact that there aren’t many opportunities after Secondary School. If there’s no hope for the youths, then it increases chances of bringing more menaces to the Saint Lucian society.

CaribDirect: What feedback have you had from youth in St. Lucia about your book and endeavours? Do you plan to do any work with St Lucian youth?

The feedback from the Saint Lucian population has been inspiring for me because they’ve gotten the message I intended to portray which is: we can all achieve our dreams—no matter what society throws at us. And with that comes hard work, sacrifice and commitment.

Since becoming a published author, I’ve ventured into being a motivational speaker. I’ve been inspiring students in Canada through in-school author visits; their energy and response has been encouraging. So for 2012, I want to reach out to the Minister of Education for Saint Lucia to plan an event where I can inspire the youth through my own experiences with handling rejections.

CaribDirect: What motivates you?

My numerous failures motivate me. Knowing that my successes make my mother proud also motivates me. Striving for a better life motivates me. Being a Saint Lucian motivates me.
CaribDirect: Do you consider yourself a celebrity?

No. I just feel blessed to know that I have the support of many individuals from around the world.
CaribDirect: What are your aspirations for the future?

There are many things I would love to be part of, but for now I want to focus on achieving my lifelong dream of becoming a professional basketball player. And I am hoping for my book to be converted into a Hollywood movie. Thus far, the book has been transformed into a movie screenplay by award-winning screenwriter, Karen Mueller Bryson (http://www.ahorsewithnoname.com). We plan to pitch the screenplay to movie producers/directors in the upcoming year.

CaribDirect: Any parting words?

If you ever need words of advice, or if you have any further questions, and to get a copy of my book, Hanging On To My Dreams, I can be reached at: www.arnoldhenry.com. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my story.

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