This story appears in FCA Magazine’s September/October 2017 issue. Subscribe today!
Hometown: Kelly Village, Caroni, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
• Member of the FCA Trinidad and Tobago Multi-Area Leadership Board since its inception in 2014.
• Cardinals Netball Club (2014-Present)
• Tunapuna Secondary School (2011-Present)
• San Juan Secondary School (2005-11)
• St. Charles High School (2003-12)
• St. James Secondary School (1996-98)
• Cascade School for the Deaf (1992-93)
“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” – Psalm 30:5
Tunapuna Secondary School netball coach Antoinette Gaskin passionately pours herself out for her young athletes, recognizing her opportunity to influence. A former netball athlete, she understands the endurance the sport demands, something she drew upon during her recent trial—a battle with breast cancer. That battle drove her faith deeper, and she endured, even coaching throughout her treatment as she believed in the impact she was making on her young athletes.
FCA: What do you enjoy about coaching?
AG: The children, their curiosity, and their eagerness to learn. There are a lot of social aspects to athletics, and there is strength and life-building in sports. We give information and give Christ, so there is much to take home.
FCA: How do you integrate your faith into coaching?
AG: I am learning how to integrate faith and sport. I have a deep love for children, and God mixed in an opportunity to do something positive. Give a positive mindset. Use positive words. Give them Scripture they can chew on. You have to keep reminding yourself of His Word daily. Keep praying daily. It will be an influence on other people, to show others what God is doing in and through you.
FCA: How is FCA part of your team and campus?
AG: There is a campus Huddle at Tunapuna, and we have a netball team study. There are so many students who pass through and miss opportunities, so we started the team study. [FCA Trinidad and Tobago leader] Gerard Dionarine brought the “Heart of an Athlete Playbook.”
We pray, train, stretch, cool down, and then I read a chapter and read the questions, giving them food for thought. Sometimes we’ll sing and share the gospel, and one person will pray. I thought they wouldn’t like it, but one day I forgot to read and they asked why we weren’t reading. They look forward to it. It bonds them. They like the questions and interaction; they like to think. It’s an opportunity to bring Christ close and plant seeds.
FCA: Why was it important for you to keep coaching through your cancer treatment?
AG: When I got the diagnosis, I didn’t accept and believe it. I talked with one of our board members, whose wife had cancer surgery, but I was in denial for a year. I came to terms with it this year, and I’m grateful to have my family around. I needed my family and their support.
I went for treatment Monday through Friday for seven weeks in October 2016, and I still found time for netball. Gerard and I held a camp at the end of summer 2016. I postponed radiation that next week because I wanted to go. Coaching keeps me active. I needed that more than I could have imagined. It has been my lifeline, and I’ve made it a joyful experience.
FCA: What have you learned from God through this season of life?
AG: Trust. It’s a human element to worry. Especially with my cancer. I’m in the last stage of treatment. I’m reminded of what God says—His Word is true. When I wasn’t feeling well, it’s just the will to [fight]. I lift my eyes up to the hills; where does my help come from?
I want God to strengthen my faith and lead me along His path. To anyone walking the road I walked, your God is bigger than the problem. It is a tough journey. Bask yourself in Him and move forward. He is the only place you get strength.
FCA Staff Quote:
“Antoinette is a dedicated, committed and selfless servant of God who has both a passion for our Lord Jesus Christ and a passion for the sport of netball.”
- Gerard Dionarine
FCA Leader, Trinidad and Tobago
Photos courtesy of Antoinette Gaskin