BAHAMIANS IN THE DIASPORA:
JACKIE EDWARDS: FIVE-TIME BAHAMIAN OLYMPIAN
NOW HAS MULTI-FACETED CAREER IN LOS ANGELES
By OSWALD T. BROWN
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Back in the 1990s when The Bahamas was on the cusp of becoming internationally acclaimed in track and field, one of its standout performers was long jumper Jackie Edwards. In fact, it may be more accurate to say that Jackie was among the elite Bahamian athletes who helped to establish The Bahamas as one of the world’s current track and field superpowers.
A five-time Olympian, Jackie first represented The Bahamas in the Olympics in 1992 and subsequently in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. Despite noteworthy performances each year, she never won a medal at this level, but her stellar track and field career includes being a two-time NCAA Champion (Indoors and Outdoors) and five-time All-American while attending Stanford University in California; Commonwealth Games Silver Medalist 1998 and finalist in 1994, 2002 and 2006; Pan American Games Bronze Medalist in 1995 and Silver Medalist 2003 as well as a Finalist in 2007.
Additionally, she was a record nine-time World Championship competitor and three-time finalist in 1991, 1995 and 2005 as well as a Silver Medalists in 1999 and 2003 in the Central American and Caribbean Championships and a Bronze Medalist in 2005.
Over the years, she has also competed for The Bahamas as a professional Track and Field athlete on the International track circuit throughout Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, South America and the United States.
Today Jackie lives in Los Angeles, California, where the experience she accumulated in track and field is the foundation for a multi-faceted career. She is currently a Personal Trainer and High School Track Coach and last year she co-founded a company called Tootsies Brand, LLC , which she describes as “a fun and fashionable line of compression socks specifically branded for the maternity market.”
“We recently landed a very coveted deal with the largest chain of maternity store in the United States, with over 1000 stores nationwide,” Jackie says. “I am extremely excited about this opportunity and the potential for growth for the company. My business partner and boyfriend of two years is Dr. Ross Flowers. He is a UCLA graduate, a PAC-10 Champion in the 110 hurdles and he is the Sports Psychologist for the players and coaches of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA basketball team.”
Jackie is also a motivational speaker, with speaking engagements ranging from health conventions, to underprivileged youth events, Rotary Clubs, high schools, and women’s fora. She is a member of the LA Chapter of the National Sales Network and one of six panelists invited to speak at its 2015 Successful Women in Business and Sales Seminar.
With substantial experience interacting with diverse ethnic and cultural groups, having traveled to 56 countries, Jackie was employed for 11 years, from 1998 to 2009 by The Bahamas Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture as a Sports Ambassador.
Jackie actually was born in Jamaica, but she was brought to The Bahamas by her parents when she was seven years old after her father Rev. Dr. Nymphas R. Edwards, a Methodist Minister, was appointed Pastor of Wesley Methodist Church in Nassau. He subsequently served as Pastor of Trinity Methodist Church and St. Michael’s in Nassau and St. Paul’s in Freeport. Her mother, Mrs. Lois Edwards, was an Executive Secretary.
She attended Queen’s College (Primary and High School) and describes growing up in The Bahamas as “an amazing experience.”
“As a child, I didn’t even realize how small the island of New Providence was until I left to go to college,” Jackie says. “My childhood formed the foundation for who I am as a person spiritually and morally and still grounds me to this day. When I think of my favorite foods, things I like to do and places I like to go, in spite of the fact that I’ve traveled to over 50 countries, I still come right back to The Bahamas, my years growing up and the lifelong friendships there that I still cherish. I love the pace of life, the landscape and the sense of connectedness to everyone. It is truly unparalleled.”
Jackie left The Bahamas in 1988 at the age of 17 to attend Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, from where she graduated in 1992 with a B.A. in Psychology. She subsequently obtained an M.A. in Sport Psychology from John F. Kennedy University, Orinda, California, in 2001 and was Certified as a Personal Trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine in 2011.
Asked who are some of her family members in The Bahamas, Jackie said, “I do not have any immediate family members still living there. My parents moved to the US to be near me shortly after my graduation from college. They are planning to move back to The Bahamas, hopefully later this year. My brother, Dr. John Edwards, did a part of his medical residency at Princess Margaret Hospital and so he was back there during those years.”
Jackie noted that during the 17 years and five Olympic Games that she competed as a professional athlete for The Bahamas, she used to “go home about three times a year.”
“Now that I’ve retired, I try to make it once a year or so,” she said. “I am planning to go home in April of this year, as I did two years ago, as a volunteer at the upcoming World Relay Championships of Track & Field that are going to be held in Nassau.”
Oswald T. Brown is the Press, Cultural Affairs and Information Manager with The Bahamas Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Jackie Edwards currently lives in Los Angeles, California, where the experience she accumulated in track and field is the foundation for a multi-faceted career.