Competitive culture driving Hydel’s success
In just under six years, the Hydel Group of Schools has risen to prominence in the sports fraternity, creating a tidal wave alongside some of the major players, including well-established traditional high schools.
Their rise has not gone unnoticed and questions continue to be raised regarding their ascension on the field of play.
According to Corey Bennett, sporting director and head coach of the track and field team at the institution, which is located on just about the border of St Catherine and St Andrew at Ferry on the Mandela Highway, their dominance is not accidental.
"Our staff members buy into what we want to get done. We tend to look at the holistic development of our students. We appreciate that not everyone is going to be star scholar and, therefore, we put things in place so that they can still achieve and be successful. We offer our students extra classes free of cost and we have implemented a reading programme for slow learners," Bennett said.
"We include everybody and we tend to do very well. We have developed a competitive culture and this helps us to do our best."
Bennett said the school's administration made a conscious decision to focus on sporting disciplines that require less equipment, to make it easier for the students to participate.
"We decided on areas that were more natural for the students and these specialties included football, netball, track and field and basketball. These disciplines require very little equipment and depending on the circumstances you can run barefooted. We also try to look for and develop the natural talent of the students in these areas," Bennett said.
The Hydel Group is a privately operated entity that competed under the Jamaica Independent Schools' Association (JISA) umbrella for a number of years, until 2009 when they received permission from the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) to compete with public schools.
It was then that their sports prowess became even more evident.
"We have been giving persons an opportunity to have an education and we have had some successes that persons think we should not have. Basically, our achievements have put us in a position that seemingly has an advantage than any other school should have," Bennett said.
In 2010, Hydel carved out their fifth consecutive lien on the Jamaica Independent Schools' Association (JISA) Inter-Prep Schools Track and Field Championship trophy and in their fifth year of competition, in 2014 at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships, they finished third with 229 points. Edwin Allen High won with 337.50 points.
Hydel's strength lies not only in track and field and football, but they have also been dominant in basketball and netball. In 2011 and 2013, Hydel High claimed the ISSA/KFC National Basketball Championship.
At the preparatory level, Hydel contested the final of the 34th JISA/Caprisun netball competition in 2011.
"The majority of our students are not from wealthy backgrounds, so they use sports and education to pursue higher studies," Bennett pointed out. "They understand that they have to put in serious work in order to gain a scholarship to study overseas, complete their education and be successful."