Hubert Lawrence | Student athletes and academics
It's brilliant that a fourth-form class of 33 students at Wolmer's Girls' School could sit CXC Mathematics and hammer it to the tune of 33 distinctions.
This accomplishment speaks volumes about the aptitude and attitude of the girls, the work of their teacher and the learning environment provided at the school. A closer look reveals good news for sport.
Five of those 33 bright sparks represent Wolmer's in sport. This quintet includes national Under-17 goalkeeper Oneilia Yearde, three track and field hopefuls and the other is part of the traditionally strong Wolmer's volleyball group.
Their success flies in the face of the conventional wisdom that asserts that academics and sport don't mix.
We've all heard the stories about sportsmen who needed help to complete their travel documents, capable only of a barely legible scribble for a signature. I haven't heard those tales in years.
The Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), the governing body for high school sport and the teachers in our schools deserve a lot of credit.
Years ago, ISSA instituted a minimum academic performance eligibility rule. This statute sets out to ensure that student-athletes have to make an effort in the classroom as well as on the field of play.
Recently, I witnessed a teacher handing out assignments to members of a Manning Cup team after a match. She issued a word of encouragement to each recipient and reminded all of the due date for completion. That type of care and diligence for our student-sports is very valuable.
The teacher of the Wolmer's 33 is Lance McFarlane, a Boys and Girls' Championships medal-winning sprint hurdler and 400-metre runner for Kingston College (KC) in 1999 and 2000.
Teacher McFarlane represents another piece of good news. Though his days as an active athlete are long gone, he is excelling in the classroom. With his help, those 33 young ladies have put CXC mathematics behind them. Now they can tackle fifth form with a lighter course load and with the confidence that they can do well at whatever they choose.
He also is a symbol of a productive life for retired sportsmen and women. Retirement comes sooner, for some like McFarlane, or later for luminaries like the incomparable Usain Bolt, but it comes nevertheless.
If they pursue their new lives with the energy they showed as athletes, they can be successful.
Some may walk away as Bolt plans to do next year as global brands, with the world at their feet. Others may test the waters in business before they retire like super sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. Whatever the course of action, all must carefully map the way forward for the rest of their lives.
For now, let's all hail Yearde and her fellow student-athletes in that stellar group of 33 at Wolmer's Girl's. Along with their teacher, they represent bright hope for the future.
- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980.