Queens of the court - Gaynstead celebrate netball dominance, Grange promises upgrades
It was a carnival-like atmosphere on Central Avenue in Kingston yesterday as members of the Gaynstead High School netball teams were celebrated for their recent success in the ISSA schoolgirl netball competitions.
Gaynstead won their first 'double-double' after seeing their junior and senior teams lift the urban-area and all-island titles. In the Urban competition, the junior team got the better of Norman Manley High, while the seniors bettered St Catherine High before both teams defeated rural champions Denbigh High for the national title.
Teachers, past students and friends gathered to pay tribute to the winning teams with past student and former head girl Olivia Grange, the minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sports, stopping by on her way to Parliament to join in the celebrations.
Grange applauded the girls, as well as the coaching and management staff, for their achievements.
"Congratulations to you all as you have made history. This is a wonderful achievement, and I am proud of you, and I have something special for the teams," said Grange, who promised that she will ensure that they get a bigger netball court, along with lights.
Coach of the winning teams, Dalton Hinds, who received a hero's welcome as he arrived on the school compound, highlighted the teams' pedigree.
"Words cannot really expressed my feelings. We have to put this down to hard work, commitment, dedication, [and] support from the school board and parents. The ladies have been committed to the cause and wanted to be number one where schoolgirl netball is concerned," said Hinds. "This is a young team, and we are here to stay, although I am not going to make any pronouncement as to winning as we have to take each year as it comes, but we are in a good place in respect to the programme we have ,and we are hoping we can continue."
Principal Jacqueline Boyd Vassell, who was in her fourth year in the position, is in a buoyant mood.
"I didn't know that this was coming so quickly, but it became a reality particularly in the course of this year when we saw the strength of the teams and how they have developed and the kind of nurturing they got from the management and coaching staff. I can't find words to describe this feeling ... . There is nothing we can't achieve as a school and going forward, it adds to the school's profile. I must congratulate the parents, teachers, and the school body as we feel nurtured. The sport minister has taken us on as one of her babies, along with our member of parliament, who is there supporting us, and even today, we are getting more support, so we know we are going to get more support for the years to come."
Marva Bernard, president of the Americas Federation of Netball Association, and Member of Parliament Julian Robinson were also in attendance.
Presentations were made to several individuals at yesterday's ceremony.
Those included trophies to the most valuable players - Gabrielle Phillips for the juniors and Latanya Wilson for the seniors - along with coach Hinds and manager Derrick 'Pastor' Brown. Former national senior player Simone Forbes was on hand to make these presentations.