Tanya Lee | Who is tops in high school sports?
There are two types of people in Jamaica. Those who walk with a heightened sense of pride at the office because their high school topped the list of the 30 best performing academic schools in Jamaica (Campion and Immaculate come to mind). And then there are those who gloat during schoolboy football or Champs season because the school they attended or support has won back-to-back championships (JC and Calabar, step forward).
Usually some supporters of these schools like JC and Calabar who haven't made the recent academic list are quite vociferous in crowning themselves the best 'sports school' in Jamaica with no real analysis done to either refute or support these claims.
The top academic schools, luckily, have an exact measure of their schools' performances as the list is compiled and published annually, but have you ever wondered which is the top high school in sports in Jamaica?
This has, to date, never been publicly compiled but would certainly help as only then can we truly establish which high schools offer the healthiest mix of sports and academic successes and thus provide the most rounded education. While football and athletics attract the biggest audiences and the most participating schools, it does not provide a comprehensive snapshot of our sporting achievements!
To satisfy my curiosity about the top high schools in sports, I armed myself with an Excel sheet and an intern to complete the process, recently, of tabulating the results across all sports for the 2016 school year. I used last year because as my dad always says, you are only as good as your last performance. The ranking will be shared at another time in another forum, but of utmost importance was sharing some key findings.
First, ISSA has many sporting disciplines on the calendar. Think football, cricket, track and field, netball, basketball, volleyball, table tennis, swimming, hockey. Think Under-19, Under-16 and Under-14 levels. Then think rural, urban, and all-island divisions. Then for each discipline, think multiple events. Take football, for example, with Walker Cup, Super Cup, Ben Francis Cup, daCosta Cup, here a cup, there a cup, everywhere a cup. It never ends!
The biggest surprise was that both Campion College and Immaculate Conception High are also within the top 15 schools in Jamaica in sports. Campion's boys are all island swim champs and all island Under-16 table tennis champs and were finalists in Under-14 hockey. Immaculate also registered top four finishes in corporate area track and field, Under-16 table tennis, and won both national titles in swimming to secure their spot among the best girls on the island.
As you would have guessed, the top sports schools aren't Jamaica College or Calabar. Kudos and salutations to Jamaica College, though, on being third in Boys' Champs and top four finishers in a few table tennis and basketball events, which places them highly on any assessment of good sporting performances for the 2016 season. Kudos as well to Calabar as the lions dominated basketball at the Under-14 and Under-16 levels, making them much more than a track and field school after all.
It places both institutions within the top 15 schools in sports in Jamaica in 2016. Campion does experience some level of success in the sporting arena, therefore.
Leaders of the pack
While the ranking is incomplete, Kingston College on the boys' side and Excelsior on the girls' side should take a preliminary bow! They are true jewels in the crown with multiple wins and top four finishes across multiple ISSA disciplines and age levels in 2016. Kingston College had good results in football, cricket, track and field, table tennis, hockey, and swimming, while Excelsior's girls had successes in netball, track and field, football, and hockey. The water in St Elizabeth must be quite good as well considering that Munro College and St Elizabeth Technical have also posted creditable sporting results in 2016.
Kingston College, with an 87 per cent pass rate in academics, should take an additional bow here for what seems to be a comprehensive educational and sporting offering for the boys of North Street and Melbourne.
But it is my view that the true MVPs, the creme de la creme in quality, rounded education reside at Heroes Circle as Wolmer's Boys registered a top 10 finish on the academic list with a 95 per cent pass rate, and based on their sporting results in 2016, looks to rank quite high as well in high school sports. Wolmer's Girls, at 97 per cent pass rate, and with senior all- island titles in table tennis and volleyball among other successes has also done well.
Now, whether all these institutions developed the sporting talent is probably worthy of further analysis and an entirely different article.
- Tanya Lee is a Caribbean sports marketing practitioner and can be reached at Tanyatlee@gmail.com.