André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
There were no lavish celebrations when athletes, students and teachers of Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships kingpins Jamaica College (JC) gathered to celebrate their 21st boys' title inside their Karl Hendrickson Auditorium yesterday morning.
Instead, what transpired on JC's Old Hope Road grounds during their celebratory devotion was a lively thanksgiving session with a sprinkling of praise and worship. Principal Ruel Reid acted as a motivational preacher of sorts, charging his lads to be thankful for their successes while acknowledging God's hand in their triumph.
JC overcame a 21-point deficit going into Saturday's last day of Championships to lift the Mortimer Geddes trophy. Reid, while warning that the school intends to hold on to the title for a while, is convinced it was ordained for his team to win.
"We knew that with God, all things are possible; that he will give us the strength to conquer our opponents. This Championships 2011 was ordained by God to be Jamaica College's, the blue and white track belongs to Jamaica College," said Reid, to rapturous applause, vuvuzela-like trumpets and flags. "We desire to be number one at everything because we are to be recognised as the best, and if all of us work towards this end, then there is no height that we can't climb, no mountain that we can't reach, no championship that we can't win."
Reid, sounding quite like a Pentecostal preacher, charged the students to always strive for success and congratulated the athletes, coaching staff and support personnel.
"This win has solidified the JC community, because it was a task to sell people the vision that JC can return to its glory days, and to see that in one year we have had all these successes is showing people that we are serious about this," said Reid.
"We want to trumpet across Jamaica that with God as our source, the next critical variable for all the success that we have had is discipline," Reid pointed out, a sentiment that is shared by Lance Clarke, a member of the Old Boys chapter of New York.
"The main thing is that it was a principled victory, and the honour of it surmounts any other accolade that I could pour on a winning like this. After the principal took such a stance, it caused some controversy, and then for us to pull it off is something that we are proud about," said Clarke in reference to Reid's decision to bar star sprinter Rohan Walker from competing at the meet for academic reasons.
PUMA's Juliet Campbell was also on hand to share in the celebrations. PUMA is the equipment sponsor of JC and several other local high schools, and Campbell took time out to acknowledge the effort of former coach John Mair, who played a part in securing PUMA's support.
"We must give John Mair some credit because he was the one that contacted me to assist his track programme here and we never hesitated; he asked and we immediately helped. We are seeing the fruits of it, JC is one of the schools that we enjoy supporting, they are very organised and we are very happy to be part of this and to see them win a championship," said Campbell.