André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
You could be excused for thinking it was their first 'Champs' win. But amid yesterday's celebrations, Calabar High School's leaders were not losing sight of the bigger picture.
Deafening horns, flags, and even a three-man drum squad, 61 Red Hills Road was transformed to 'Champs Central' as Calabar High celebrated its 23rd hold on the Mortimer Geddes Trophy, after last weekend's ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Championships.
However, amid the festivities inside the school's chapel yesterday morning, it was a sombre-sounding Principal Albert Corcho, who while congratulating the team on its impressive victory over Jamaica College and Kingston College, underlined the school's determination to ensure that those who participated did not do so to the detriment of their academic advancement.
"I am feeling very good. I came to Calabar in January and when I saw the level of organisation that the track management, the school and the boys were involved with, it is not surprising that we have won," said Corcho, the former Munro College principal.
"All the young men who are involved in the track and field programme would have missed a couple of classes, so starting this (yesterday) afternoon, we are going to make up those classes," Corcho added. "Starting this (yesterday) afternoon and for the rest of the term, we will be having seminars and workshops for those young men. We will be having extra classes, and we are asking the track team to come in on Saturdays to ensure that we get you back to where you ought to be in preparation for your exams.
"We want to show the entire world that at Calabar, we know how to prepare young men to play their part in the development of this country. We will continue to excel in academics and sports and will work twice as hard for every single student that comes through this gate," he rallied.
Bidding farewell after leading the team in his final Champs, team captain Damar Robinson, who was not allowed to compete at the championships due to matriculation issues, underscored his love for the school before he had to be comforted by members of the management team and teammates, after breaking down in tears.
STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART
"I don't have any speech or anything. This is coming from my heart. Over the last seven years, this has been the greatest experience of my life being part of Calabar," Robinson said. "I want to say to the track and field management team that being around them has been a very important part of my life. I have learnt a lot from them and will be a better person in society. I love every one on the management team. I love my coaches and all of my teammates.
"Wherever life takes me, I will have Calabar with me always. I will always be saying 'Bar Life'," he added, to huge approval from his schoolmates.
It was the same 'Bar Life' greeting that was echoed by chairman Karl Johnson, who stoked the celebratory fire.
"A lot of other people tried a lot of things, but I told the track team on Monday night that all the evil that meant us harm will have to go back where they came from. Tell them that next year it will be a three-peat!" said Johnson, who credited the team and the entire support unit for a memorable win.
Next: A baritone-rich rendition of the school's song - Call of Calabar. Then another round of wild celebrations, as if it was their first Champs win.