Sun | Mar 26, 2023

GoodHeart | Denbigh High School has big track and field dreams

Published:Saturday | March 18, 2023 | 12:46 AMKeisha Hill/Senior Gleaner Writer
Coach Erdean Willis (left), one of the track and field coaches at Denbigh High School, and Jeffrey Douglas, acting principal, show the school’s field which is currently undergoing rehabilitation.
Coach Erdean Willis (left), one of the track and field coaches at Denbigh High School, and Jeffrey Douglas, acting principal, show the school’s field which is currently undergoing rehabilitation.

Denbigh High School in May Pen, Clarendon, has big dreams of making it to the top-five of the Inter-Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Boys’ and Girls’ Championships, but like many other schools in rural Jamaica face challenges. For a number of years, the track and field programme at the institution has remained dormant, impacting the performance of the school’s athletes at competitive events. This is something Jeffrey Douglas, acting principal at Denbigh High, is eager to change and why he and the staff at the school are actively revamping the track and field programme.

“We are currently out of our competitive phase as we had taken a break and we are re-grouping. We paused to ensure that we could develop the quality students that [are] needed for these competitions. We have many talented students here at Denbigh School, so we had to ensure that we retained them in a structured programme so that they are not recruited by other dominant track and field schools,” Douglas said.

Douglas said there is a five-year track and field development programme that is currently being undertaken by a sports development co-ordinator who is being assisted by two other team members to ensure its success. The school is currently in its first year of this programme.

The current head of this programme, Erdean Willis, is confident that the school can become a track and field powerhouse within the next five years. At last year’s staging of Boys’ and Girls’ Championships, Denbigh High School sent a small team, and were successful in making it through the rounds to two final events. At the end of the championships, they gained a mere two points.


“This year we are sending a much larger team with over 30 students. This is three times the number we had last year. We are not expecting any miracles, however, if things go according to plan, we should get at least one medal,” Willis said.

“We are a young team and we are still developing. If we come away with a point that is a great accomplishment for us; a medal will be an icing on the cake,” he added.

According to the acting principal, the bulk of the team members are from grades seven to nine, with more senior members participating in mainly the field events. Some members will also compete in track events.

“There are high expectations from class three athlete Chanton White, and grade seven athlete Rayvon Blake, who have done quite well at varying development meets. Senior members of the team including the schools head boy, Jemario Facey, will be competing in the 800 metres,” Douglas said.

To aid in the school’s development programme, the school’s administration has assisted in ensuring that the students have access to a gym, that is fitted with weights for strength and conditioning throughout the season and have begun work on improving their field. They are hoping to secure assistance with the venture.

“The school’s field is also currently under rehabilitation as it is used by all sporting disciplines. We are putting in pipes, so even those students that are training for Champs have to do so elsewhere. This is a costly venture, and we really need some sponsorship to offset the costs,” Douglas said.

Students who are engaged in the track and field programme are also in need of accommodation when they train. Not all reside in Clarendon and the surrounding areas and the school does not have dorm facilities. Having the students close by as they train eases the burden on them, as such it is a key initiative for the school. According to Douglas, the monthly expenses to coordinate accommodation for the students has been draining the resources of the institution.

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