Sun | Sep 25, 2016

Dyke's big wish is to win Girls' Champs

Published:Sunday | February 21, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Despite not winning the top title Edwin Allen High's coach, Michael Dyke, has for more than a decade, produced several national representatives.

But apart from being rewarded with working in the national programme and travelling with several junior teams, Dyke has not obtained his due recognition. He is just one of several high school coaches who have contributed financially and in many other ways to athletes' development, but still awaits his big break.

Dyke, a physical education graduate of G. C. Foster College, has conditioned several junior stars at the Frankfield-based school. It all started with Lisa Shape, who won silver in the 100 metres at the inaugural World Youth Championships, running 11.52 behind Veronica Campbell (11.49). Shape was also a part of the 4x100m team, which won gold in 44.30 seconds.

Another of his junior stars was Kayon Thompson. The Edwin Allen coach describes her bronze in the 800m at the 2006 World Junior Championships, as his greatest achievement at the international level. Sherene Pinnock pocketed bronze at both the 2006 and 2008 World Junior Championships in the 400m hurdles. Others include Kimberly Smith, who pocketed bronze in the 4x100m relay at the World Junior in Italy, 2004.

Of the current crop, Nikita Tracey won bronze at last year's Senior Central American and Caribbean Championships; this was after her exploits at Champs, Penn Relays, Carifta Games and Junior Pan Am Championships where she won gold medals.

At the last World Junior Championships, Shawna Anderson, Kaceya Jones and Gayon Evans were members of Jamaica's 4x100m quartet which won silver while three of his girls - Ristananna Tracey, Kimberley Williamson and Keenan Davis - represented Jamaica at the last World Youth Championships in Italy.

Dyke lives in Frankfield and is a physical education teacher at Edwin Allen.

Q: Why Edwin Allen?

MICHAEL DYKE:
It's my alma mater ... So I really wanted to see the track team progress. During my time there, nothing was going on, so it was really my dream to see them get on the map in terms of track and field. I decided as soon as I leave college (G.C. Foster College) I would head back.

Q: How long are you at Edwin Allen and did you always see yourself as a coach?

MD:
Twenty years and no, I did not see myself as a coach. Earlier in my years, I did not even see myself as a teacher ... but after I was introduced to GC Foster, then I realised that I could make some impact in that area.

Q:What was it like in your early years at Edwin Allen?

MD:
Olive Forrester, who is now at Vere, was really in charge of track and field at the time, but they really wanted me to come and take over the programme. After getting there I worked with her a while, because I did not have any experience in terms of high school track and field.

Q:Were you involved in track and field at high school, as an athlete?

MD:
Yes. I used to run 800, 1500 and 5000 metres. I ran 800/1500 at Champs (1982-1984), but was just able to make it to finals. At that time there was not much going on, but I realised I had some talent. They (Edwin Allen) really did not have a programme. An athlete who performed well on sports day is selected for Central Champs and then a few of the boys moved onto Boys' Champs. At GC Foster, I was able to win medals at Intercol and moved on to the Penn Relays.

Q: Why did you decide to stop competing?

MD:
I ran it at college just to participate and represent the school, but I didn't see myself going beyond that as a professional athlete.

Q: Are you enjoying the job, or there are times when you say, 'I cannot continue for another year'?

MD:
It is always encouraging for me especially when I have athletes who have been making steady progress each year. But each year you may feel that's it, but a new crop develops each time and that is what keeps motivating me to continue.

Q: Who is the best athlete you have coached?

MD:
To be honest, I would not want to single out any individual, but if I should say, among the boys, Aldwyn Sappleton ... in terms of female, it's a whole lot.

Q: How difficult is it for you to coach teenagers?

MD:
To be very honest, somehow I feel a lot more comfortable, because they tend to listen, especially when they realise you have been successful over the years. They believe in you. It's not every time you are going to be perfect in what you are doing, but you still get results, because of the level of commitment and what they believe you can do for them.

Q: How would you rate your achievements so far?

MD:
I would say I have had a successful period here because when I came here the school was getting like two points or a point at Champs. The year I came here the boys got five and the girls about the same and now, we are getting over 200 points and from 30 plus position to second. I have led the boys to ninth position at Champs. I also have well over 20, close to 30 athletes who represented Jamaica at the junior level.

Q:How passionate are you about track and field?

MD:
To be honest, it's my life. As I said, that is what keeps me going, even though sometimes things get rough and you feel like giving up, but that is what keeps me going, because you hardly can see another sport that can provide you with the level of satisfaction in terms of development ... to see your athlete move from 14 seconds to 11 seconds over time.

Q:How do you manage your personal life and deal with the dedication of coaching?

MD:
It is difficult. Three-quarters of my time is really spent on doing something with regards to track and field, whether it's coaching, making preparation, writing programmes or sourcing information or other stuff.

Q:Do you have any specific goals before you give up on coaching?

MD:
I would really want to win the Girls' Championships for Edwin Allen before I throw in the towel, but if it doesn't happen, it's just one of those things. And at least, I would really love to see an Olympian coming out of our programme.

- Anthony Foster