KENSON J. CASIMIR How he Mastered the art of Turning Adversity into Triumph

There’s no denying it; whether you’re knee- deep in the world of local sports or you occasionally flip through TV channels or radio stations, the name, or at least the voice, of Kenson J. Casimir must have crossed your path at least once.

In a recent interview with Kenson, our discussion ranged from his dominance in sports broadcasting via St. Lucia Sports Online to his active efforts toward poverty alleviation in the Gros-Islet community, to other aspects of his life that most people don’t know about.

“By now, I’d say I’m best known for exploiting the sports,” said Kenson, adding, “Up to a few years ago, most people would’ve known me for representing the country in multiple sporting events, including cricket, football and track and field, most of which I started from a very early age.”

Kenson actually started off by speaking about his struggles growing up in the heart of Gros-Islet.

“Many people know me as a jan Gros-Islet, Ezra and myself being in close proximity. But what very few people know is that I grew up in a very poor family in a tiny home. My mom would work three jobs to provide for us and keep us on our feet. I’d consider myself the epitome of what ‘being raised by a community’ means. All of my sporting gear would come from the Gros-Islet Cricket Association. Other persons from the community would also chip in to help make my dreams come true and keep me involved in what I love, which is sports.”

Sports also kept Kenson out of the trouble he’d see daily in his community, including drugs and the illegal use of weapons that characterized the dangerous lifestyle of some individuals in the community.

Furthermore, as he proudly stated, he’s never been one to settle for the status quo or to do the same things repeatedly.

“My brothers and I always wanted more and dreamed of making things better for ourselves and others in the community. Now St. Lucia Sports Online is a sponsor of Monchy FC. We contribute to the players’ overall development in various ways. I’m also a community development officer. Along with the Gros-Islet Community Action Group, we’ve done a lot to help the elderly and give lessons to young people, especially those who didn’t pass their CSEC exams.”

Kenson also benefited from the guidance and discipline imparted by his parents who required him to be indoors by 6:00 pm and stay off the block at all times. However, there is one place close to home that no one could keep him from.

“I was pretty much born and raised by the beach. I can’t recall it myself but as I got older my family would tell me about the time when I got up and ran straight into the sea. I was just four or five years old at the time and I couldn’t swim. A man who lived in the area found me in the water, face down, totally still and not breathing. He kept rolling me over on the shore until I started coughing up water, and that’s how I survived. The following day I was back in the water, but of course, under heavy supervision.”

Kenson’s academic performance at secondary school left much to be desired, unlike his participation in sports, which he’s passionate about.

“At Leon Hess I chose six subjects but because of my participation in sports I barely spent time in class during my latter years at the school. Ultimately, I was absent for four exams and only got two of the six that I chose.”

Thanks to former Education Minister Mario Michel who decided that he wouldn’t want to have a national athlete out there unemployed, Kenson succeeded in getting a job as a messenger at the Ministry of Education. It was a push he felt he really needed.

“There was a young lady there who would constantly belittle and insult me because I underachieved academically. One time she embarrassed me in front a large group of my friends. That actually brought me to tears. But because of how it made me feel, it became my biggest motivator to do better. Shortly after that incident I went on to pass my remaining four subjects and then I moved on to SALCC and got a scholarship to complete my BA degree at Grambling State University where I finished with a 3.9 GPA. Then I did my Masters in mass communications and finished with a 4.0 GPA.

“Upon returning home I was driving through town in my new car and saw the same woman who had insulted me. I rolled down my window and the look on her face was enough for me. Now we’re really good friends. I don’t hold any grudges and I believe that’s my blessing. But it was her initial attitude towards me that pushed me to excel.”

Kenson is now one year away from earning his PhD. He also recalled his initial foray into the media. “I remember sitting at home watching Brian Calixte do sports on DBS and thinking to myself ‘This man has my job and I want it.’

Shortly thereafter, Kenson’s father got him a job at MBC presenting sports and the news.

“What bothered me was that I was assigned to present mostly international sports stories which were easily available online. Even when I got to do local sports, the time slot was very limited considering all the interesting sports activities that were going on. That’s sort of the genesis of the idea for St. Lucia Sports Online. But my experience gained at MBC was extremely useful.”

When he moved on to HTS, Kenson faced the same issue of inadequate airtime to cover all the stories he wanted to.

“I initially presented the idea [of St. Lucia Sports Online] to them as HTS Sports Online, so it would be a collaboration between them and myself. That was immediately turned down so I went to Kurt Charles and asked him to design a mockup website for me with articles as a sample. He named it St. Lucia Sports Online and set it up. It started getting traction but I will admit I’ve never ever liked the name it was given. He managed to convince me to keep it since it had already been paid for and people started taking note of it. It’s actually registered under the name 758 Sports Net, which is good because the other name, which is well known, is too often confused with another news website.” Once the site was established, he got an offer from CPL but it raised the issue of potential conflict of interest at HTS and ultimately led to Kenson moving to DBS. Nevertheless, he credits Alison Kentish and Winston Springer Jr. with helping him develop at HTS. “It was a great experience,” he added.

Now at DBS Kenson has full control over his content and he’s even able to manage a ‘day-job’ at the Ministry of Youth Development & Sports. With so much on his plate, one has to wonder what his secret to success is.

“Waking up early. I’ve been blessed with a hatred for sleep. Being able to function on four or five hours of sleep is a blessing in disguise. Even at college it’s been great for me because I’d be able to spend more time studying alongside training. Sometimes it even enabled me to finish my courses a full year earlier. Now I get up at 4:30 a.m. every day,have coffee then head down to the gym. By 7:00 am I’ve done all my writing for the day. From 7:00 am to 8:00 am I’m at Vybe  Radio as a pundit. Most times the [DBS] nightly news is completed long in advance. Once that’s done I can get to my day job.”

Recalling the days when he used to train with Daren Sammy and others who have gone on to win international acclaim, Kenson admits that he misses participating in competitive sports.

“Sometimes you wish ‘you could turn back time and do things differently but it is what it is,” says Kenson.

The SLSO Sports Updates, a new three-minute midday segment, boasts 200,000 weekly views. “The market for that segment is great because not everyone can wait for the 7:00 p.m. news.”

Kenson plans to relaunch St. Lucia Sports Online under the ‘758 Sports Net’ title and build a home studio. “I’m also not ruling out a future move to ESPN or Sportsmax if something like that were to happen. I’d still be able to manage my operations here so I believe I’d be able to do both.”

Kenson attributes his current success to Ryan Casimir who captains the ship in his absence, and numerous others.

“Linda Daher and Laurie Hutchinson were also a huge help to my development at DBS. Mervin Bellass who contributes from the south really plays an important role in St. Lucia SportsOnline,” he added. We wish Kenson tons of success in his endeavours!

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