ANTONIA Burton’s first test as a strength and conditioning coach in cricket has reinvigorated her love for the sport.
Burton, 36, served in this role for the Guyana Amazon Warriors’ women’s team at the inaugural 6ixty and Massy Women’s Caribbean Premier League T20 tournaments.
The tournaments not only provided opportunities for international cricketers to showcase their skills, but allowed coaches and other technical staff to be part of two weeks of intense cricket in St Kitts
Burton said the passion, professionalism and camaraderie she experienced among players, staff and officials of the Guyana franchise, was tremendous.
Burton is UTT’s head track and field coach but also does strength and conditioning in cycling, swimming, karate and other sports.
The Warriors were led by former West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor of Jamaica, and coached by Steve Liburd of St Kitts.
“I was very nervous coming into it, because I’ve never worked in cricket before,” she said. “From the first day I was introduced to the captain Stafanie and vice captain Shemaine Campbell, they were very open. I know they were used to certain programmes, and I have my way of doing things.
“But Stafanie said for me to bring what I have and they’ll do it and if it’s not working, we’ll communicate and find a middle ground. In that regard, it was very easy from there.”
Coming from a track and field background, where athletes are allowed over 30 minutes to warm up, Burton had to find creative ways to get things done in the 15 minutes allotted for cricket.
She adapted and found innovative ways to get the best out of the bunch. Burton credited Liburd for helping balance his training sessions with hers, so as to get the best out of the cricketers.
“It was also a learning experience. Working so closely with the coaches is what I appreciate and how I work best. We sat and planned programmes. Steve was very involved. Before each session I would talk to him about what he’s doing today and I would try to find the best running program where the athletes would not be too tired going into the game the next day.”
Burton said she worked similarly with former national cycling coach Erin Hartwell, and maintaining a balance with training on the cycling track and strength and conditioning was a key element of the then TT team’s success.
Although the Guyana Amazon Warriors women’s team did not win either tournament, Burton said the team energy was always positive and she drew inspiration from skipper Taylor.
“Being around players like Stafanie, we had a lot of sit-downs and talks, and she is very aware of her body, so it was very easy to get the best out of her. She wants to become the Michael Jordan of cricket, and I love to work with athletes who are so passionate.
“All the Warriors players are so committed and want to do well, which is why I think the (Women’s CPL elimination) was so disappointing.”
Burton is certified by the International Sports Science Association and the National Association of Sport Medicine. She is also a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS).
She said she was happy to be part of the inaugural women’s competitions, but said with only three competing teams, it was indicative that not enough women are playing cricket in the region.
She hopes franchise owners keep the tournaments alive for next season so young girls would be encouraged by seeing women playing the sport they love on television.
“I definitely want to stay in the CPLT20 long term. It was a really good experience. I’m a huge cricket fan and being back in the fold reinvigorated my love for the sport. I was a big WI cricket fan some years ago, but I chose my mental health.”