JC coach rejoices as team rides challenges to grab 21st boys' crown
André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Jamaica College's (JC) dramatic triumph at the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships on Saturday night inside a sold-out National Stadium, was not only a mark of Spartan-like detrmination, but also represented a redemption of sorts for head coach Orville Brown and his support staff, which has endured a testing year and a half.
This time last year, Brown was just getting settled into his new role as head coach, weeks after long-time coach - the outstanding John Muir handed in his resignation to the JC management team.
Brown led JC to a fourth place finish last year with 152 points - 56.50 behind eventual winners Wolmer's Boys' School.
Twelve months onwards, Brown, who has been coaching pole vault at the Old Hope Road-based school for the past 20 years, was among the throng of JC athletes, management, coaches and supporters, who flocked the National Stadium infield in celebration of their 21st hold on the Mortimer Geddes Trophy, a piece of silverware they had not lifted since 2000.
Showing classic fourth-day grit and execution, JC, after much drama and changed leads, emerged champions after posting 280 points, 11 more than Kingston College (KC), while Calabar High ended third with 236. Defending champions Wolmer's, were fourth with 139 points.
"Everybody was aware of the issues and the challenges that we have faced in the past and had been having, but it's a great feeling having transitioned those problems into something positive and successful," said a clearly moved Brown, while huddled with a number of supporters and athletes.
"I cried, I couldn't help it because when I think about where we were some time ago, all the problems and stress and the hard work that was put in, this is the greatest experience I have had in a long while, it's an amazing feeling and the title race being as close as it was made this victory even more rewarding for us, it feels better," Brown exclaimed.
Brown, went on to admit that while he was confident of their chances to win it all, the victory came a bit ahead of schedule. It's also key to note that JC won Champs without the contribution of some of their top athletes - star sprinter Rohan Walker, who was barred from competing by the school for academic reasons; as well as Kavean Smith and Waquar DaCosta, who both aggravated injuries at the meet.
"We have been trying our best to spread the depth and quality of the programme. Truth is we are still building and for us to win Champs at this point is a great accomplishment because this victory came a bit earlier than we had projected. Next year we expect to be even stronger," Brown warned.
"We were projecting to win Champs two years from now, but it came now and we are happy to take it," he added.
JC held their first lead in the early afternoon on Saturday and were then engaged in a constant struggle with KC for the top spot, but Brown, with a broad smile stapled across his face, said the victory was never in doubt.
"We were never worried about the victory. Our only concern was that the boys would actually come here over the four days and execute. We knew that once they managed to execute and perform to our expectations, there was absolutely no way that we could have lost," Brown noted.
"At the end of the second day, we were a bit concerned at where we were, but last night (Friday) we sat down and went over all the events that we had finalists in and we were convinced that we still had a chance. We had a talk with the boys, motivated them and asked them all to come out and give their best effort and they delivered when it mattered," he added.
"This victory will do endless wonders for the school community, this is a great achievement for the entire school community."
JC also won the domestic schoolboy football triple, ensuring that it's the first time since 1976 that the school has won both the Manning Cup and Champs in the same school year.