Petersfield coach makes athletic dreams into reality
For Petersfield High School's track and field head coach, Machell Woolery, "Life is about choice, so what you miss today affects you tomorrow."
This has been his guiding principle since his days as a student at G.C. Foster College in Angels, St Catherine where he honed his coaching skills.
The 36-year-old would make his entry into the world of track and field after graduating in 2002 and taking up a job as a physical education (PE) teacher at Mount Grace Primary and Junior High School in Westmoreland. It was there that he found Stephenie-Ann McPherson and laid the groundwork for the present 400m World and Olympic medallist.
Woolery moved from there to Petersfield High in 2005, teaching PE and coaching the football and track and field teams.
In football, he was the long-time coach of the daCosta Cup team until 2013, taking them from obscurity to national spotlight at the quarter-final stage and he also did a stint with Premier League club Reno, as their trainer.
However, it is on the track where Woolery has made his biggest mark, placing the Westmoreland institution and some of its athletes on the national stage.
"I feel elated," he said in relation to Petersfield High's rise to prominence. "It's a really good feeling".
"When I just started with the team there wasn't a track programme, I started from scratch. Now we're reaping the fruits of that hard work."
Much of Woolery and Petersfield's best harvesting came last season when the school finished sixth overall at Boys Champs; then followed up with a third place overall result at the opening meet of the 2017 Digicel Grand Prix Athletic Series, the County of Cornwall Athletic Association Western Championships, which ended at the Montego Bay Stadium recently.
His charges have also come to the fore, showing all-round prowess in throwing and running events over varying distances, led by triple gold medallist, Kevin Nedrick, the National Youth record holder, who won the Class One boys shot put and the javelin open events.
His strength however not only lies in at the secondary level. Woolery has also elevated his status to the national level, being the throws coach for Jamaica's teams - twice to the Central American and Caribbean Games and last year at CARIFTA Games.
"It's just that I'm eager for knowledge," he shared when asked about his formula for success. "I also know you must have a balanced programme to win a championship.
Often times there is heavy concentration on the track events but you also need a good field events programme and that's how I deal with it."
As for spotting a good athlete, Woolery admits, "First of all I look for discipline, in terms of event I look at the athletic nature of the student and overtime you'll get a better understanding of where their talent lies."
"I look at the physique of the athlete when it comes to throwers. In the past throwers were a bit fat, now the throwers are more athletic and fast.
It makes a major difference because for each event you need flexibility and speed. Don't care what event it is, you need that to enhance your potential," he explained.
As for his future endeavors, Woolery is certain of his career path.
"I want to be a World champion coach or an Olympic coach. That's where I want to go," he envisions.