BFS SAIPAN CLINIC
English is the spoken language, the U.S. dollar is the monetary unit and the people are considered U.S. citizens.
By Greg Shepard
Published: Fall 1998
Valrick Welch, has been trying to get a BFS clinic on his island of Saipan for years. He finally succeeded last May. I brought my youngest son, Mark, age 11, along for the ride.
Saipan is the capital of the commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and enjoys the stability of the firm political union with the United States but is essentially self- governing.
Saipan, along with its sister islands, in a 450-mile chain, is known as the gateway to Asia. Saipan is located 1,272 miles south of Tokyo, 1,438 miles east of Manila and 2,951 miles north of Sydney, Australia.
Covering about 47-square miles, Saipan is home to about 40,000 people. The native Chamorro people make up the majority of this population. Their culture created the famous latte stone dwellings used anciently by the noble class. After Ferdinand Magellan discovered Saipan in 1521, its native Chamorro population of 40,000 was reduced through disease by the Spaniards to about 3,000 people. The Germans who took possession of the island after the Spanish-American War in 1901 lost the island to the Japanese in 1914. Finally, after World War II, the United States took over and eventually gave the Saipan people self-governing U.S. Commonwealth status. English is the spoken language, the U.S. dollar is the monetary unit and the people are considered U.S. citizens.
My son and I enjoyed the history and culture as we stayed one week. We also took a 5-mile boat trip to the small island of Tinian and saw where the B-29's were launched in World War II. On August 6, 1945 the B-29 Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima and three days later, the B-29 Bock's Car dropped a similar bomb on Nagasaki to end the war in the Pacific.
Coach Welch teaches a sixth grade class and uses the BFS Set-Rep System philosophy in a number of academic areas. The idea is to set goals, measure where you are and then simply break records. He is winning several awards and this summer was flown back to Washington D.C. in recognition for his progressive teaching programs.
The BFS Clinic presentations were given in short one to two hour blocks. They ranged from motivational to instructional and from all ages, including adults. The people were so friendly and it was one of my most enjoyable clinic experiences. Coach Welch got a government grant to fund the clinic and through some exhaustive work provided an Upper Limit experience for many on the beautiful, tropical island of Saipan.