Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
The first week in a new beginning for Marcus Garvey Technical and tragedy has struck the St Ann's Bay-based institution.
Thirty-seven-year-old coach of the school's football squad, Rohan 'Pepe' Alexander, died Wednesday night after the taxi in which he was a passenger crashed with a truck along the Richmond main road in St Ann.
The impact has been devastating.
Alexander's mother, Daphney Walters, said the loss of her son has been rough for the family.
"I am feeling very weak right now," Walters explained yesterday. "The family is taking it really rough. I miss him very much, he was always there for me. But I put everything in the Lord's hand."
At the school where Alexander served for about eight years, the impact seemed almost as painful, as, similar to how Walters saw her son, the school population saw him as one who was a shoulder to lean on.
"Everybody is grieving," principal Leslie Riley said. "He was a very popular person not just in the school but in the community, as he was also coach for teams in the business house and Corner League competitions in the parish. To us, he was not just a coach as he was always willing to do anything outside his responsibility. He was more than just a coach to us."
Vice-principal Doreth Bascoe-Green concurred.
"He was a very dedicated person to the task; he was not only interested in the players' football skills but he ensured that they performed academically," Bascoe-Green said.
She further explained that several of the team members have already passed two subjects at Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) - physical education and social studies, because of the guidance of the late coach.
"He will really be missed by all of us," Bascoe-Green said.
At the school yesterday, several posters were mounted on a section of a building with persons - both staff and students - expressing themselves through messages written on them.
"In loving memory of Pepe - RIP from 9 Tech-3," was the heading on one poster. Beneath it were written - "Davoy: RIP Pepe", "Jada: Gone too soon", "miss you", and several other messages.
After a morning of grieving when teachers were spoken to by guidance counsellors at the school, about 1:20 p.m. Riley dismissed school after realising that the stress was just too much and nothing further could be accomplished for the day.
The footballers and assistant coach Richard Davis met briefly in the school library to further express themselves. The sudden loss had taken a visible toll on Davis and he said as much.
"Personally, his death is taking a toll on me and I know the players also because he was like a father to them," Davis said.
Pecheeko Green, who plays left midfield on the school's daCosta Cup team, said the death of his coach has left him feeling empty.
"My mom has spoken to me and has given me confidence. At school, the assistant coach has given me a lot of uplifting words, so I'm feeling a little better. But still, I feel left out that he's not here with us," Green told The Gleaner.
Alexander took the Marcus Garvey team to the quarter-finals of the daCosta Cup last season and was aiming to not just reach the finals this time around but to win.
Marcus Garvey will play Brown's Town High in their first daCosta Cup match at Drax Hall on September 12.