The 2010 recipient of the Young Caymanian Leadership Award, Collin Anglin, talks about his experiences over the past year.
Collin Anglin has had a very busy year.
He became recipient of the 2010 Young Caymanian Leadership Award, father to newborn son Noah and was appointed as the Government’s Sports Director.
And while his shoes as the YCLA awardee will be filled by the 2011 recipient on 6 May, he says he foresees continuing the work he has done over the last year.
“Once you become a YCLA alumnus, it doesn’t ever stop, in terms of requests. I’m still getting some requests to speak and I’m more than happy to do that. I will never stop enjoying doing it, especially when it comes to working with our young people,” he says.
During his term as YCLA recipient, little Noah arrived, bringing with him huge responsibility and rewards for his proud father. “A newborn makes you realise just how much you can get done with little sleep. It shows you the importance of time management and being really, really organised, because when that baby comes, life doesn’t revolve around you anymore, it revolves around him.”
He advises the five finalists in this year’s awards ceremony to try to enjoy the evening, although he admits that, like him, they may find it a bit nerve wracking at times.
“It was very exciting, especially the buildup that they had to the actual announcement,” he recalls of the night in February last year. “They did so in grand style, with Peter Small bringing the baton, so to speak, with the announcement and the drum roll…. And then hearing my name called – I was honoured and humbled because all the nominees held each other in high regard and any one of them would have done a great job.”
The very next Monday, he started “work” as the YCLA recipient, giving a speech at George Hicks High School (now Clifton Hunter). “I got started pretty quickly and that was the main part of my mission – I wanted to speak to as many students as possible,” says Mr. Anglin. That was the first of more than 50 speaking engagements at which he spoke in front of more than 13,000 people, including at least 4,000 children.
“It was very rewarding, which is part of what makes it so special, what you do for the YCLA organisation, because you’re really just trying to be an inspiration, trying to have a positive influence and impact on the lives of the people you come in contact with,” he says.
He wrote his own speeches throughout the year, delivering messages of personal development and overcoming obstacles. He draws his own inspiration, both for his life and for the message he tried to spread in many of his speeches, from the Bible and also from motivational speakers like Les Brown, Willy Jolley and Zig Ziglar. “I was feeding myself with personal empowerment speeches or material and so, when I found certain things that resonated with my spirit, I thought to myself, this would be a great message to pass on,” he says.
Mr. Anglin advises whoever becomes the 2011 recipient to take on 15 or 20 minutes a day of empowering material. “You are going to be passing on your inspiration and it is important for you to make sure you continue to be inspired,” he says.
Sports has been in Mr. Anglin’s blood for most of his life. He has played on Cayman’s national basketball team for 18 years and has been a volunteer coach since the age of 16. He joined the Department of Sports in 2002 as sports coordinator, was promoted to assistant sports director two years later, and was acting director from December 2009 before being appointed director in February this year. He frequently sees children use sports to reach their potential – something he says he has done himself. “My life is a testament to that. From a very early age, sports was everything to me. It helped to develop certain leadership skills in me and taught me about hard work and dedication,” he says, adding that it also kept him out of trouble because it took up so much of his time and left him tired out by the end of the day.
Being on the playing field also helped him overcome his shyness. “I was pretty introverted, I was a shy guy, but people noticed a complete difference when I was on the field or the court. There, I was a general, I was directing traffic, I was motivating the troops,” he remembers.
One of the roles Anglin sees as important for him, and for other adults working and interacting with children, is supporting those kids’ dreams and ambitions, whether they want to be athletes, dancers, or best selling authors. “I really try to encourage our young people in their dreams and teach them to go for it. If you support them in their dreams, it is lot easier to steer them on a good path,” he says.
He admits it is tough to pick one moment that stands out as a single highlight of his year as the 2010 YCLA recipient, but says the experience that was most challenging was acting as MC for the Do Something festival. “I’m not really an MC type of person for huge events like that. There were a few thousand people at those. That really took me out of my comfort zone and whenever you’re taken out of your comfort zone, you are stretched and it actually improves you,” he says.
“In terms of highlights though, it has to be all my times speaking with students and what they would say to me afterwards. Sometimes, immediately after I spoke to a certain group, some children would run up to me and hug me,” he says. He recalls one instance when a teenage boy, whose friends were trying to get him involved in drugs, told him, “OK, thanks, I think I know what to do now.” That was after he gave a speech about making good choices, particularly about the company one keeps. In those speeches, he included a cautionary tale about his own youth, of when he spent a night in jail as a 12-year-old boy because his friends had committed a theft. After that night in the cells, he took a long hard look at whom he was keeping company with and distanced himself from that group, some of whom are now dead from violence and some others in prison.
“The kids can relate to me as someone in front of them who has been through that. I think that had a very significant impact on the children,” he says. That experience and the reactions he received from children about it has led Mr. Anglin to write a book that he hopes will motivate young people to stay out of trouble and show them how to turn their lives around if they have made bad choices.