The Calabar High resurgence
How Corey Bennett is engineering the rebuilding at Red Hills Road
On the outside, many would be surprised by the impressive performances on the track that Calabar High produced under Corey Bennett in his first six months in charge as head coach. While he is realistic about title aspirations in his first season....
On the outside, many would be surprised by the impressive performances on the track that Calabar High produced under Corey Bennett in his first six months in charge as head coach. While he is realistic about title aspirations in his first season. Bennett says that the way the team has embraced his philosophy and structured approach puts them in a good position to plot a resurgence at this year’s ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships.
Bennett, who is also Hydel High’s head coach, took over the team last July and, in his first season, had overseen strong performances in the development meets, highlighted by their second-place finish at the Corporate Area Championships. That meet went down to the final event with the gap between themselves and champions Kingston College only eight points.
Pleased with the progress that he has seen over the last six months, Bennett was quick to downplay title hopes in year one. However, he says that they will take advantage of any opportunities that come their way, should they arise.
“We are in rebuilding mode, so we have to be cognisant of that. We are not ready to challenge the big ones yet but, if it comes our way, we are going to grab it. But that is not the aim this year,” Bennett told The Gleaner. “It has been coming on fairly well. We have had a few niggles here and there but, for the most part, we are ready to become competitive this year.”
While the growth over the last six months has not surprised him, it has taken time for the boys to buy into the culture that Bennett wanted to instil. Structure and discipline, he said, were the things that needed to be addressed immediately to turn around the fortunes of a team that only accumulated 170 points last year while finishing third.
“That (discipline) was a bit off, based on what I realised. But the boys have bought in. It wasn’t a hard fix but the school was very big on discipline and so I was here to kind of just blend it a little bit. But the discipline of the boys in how they trained had to be fixed and get them back to where they used to be,” Bennett said.
What made Bennett realise that his words were reaching the team was when the consequences of a disciplinary matter within the team were not only acknowledged but fully supported by the athletes.
“There was a point when we had to suspend some boys from the team and the team was in full support (of it). That’s when I knew that they finally got it. And these were boys who were the ‘better boys’ on the team. We all understood as a team that, without discipline, we are not going to make it. And when the team can support that, then I believe that we would have won over the boys’ minds and hearts as to what we want to achieve as a school and as a team,” Bennett added.
While it is still early in the project for Bennett, he is adamant about their mandate to show Calabar’s readiness to compete.
“We are here to compete, compete till the last event, and we are here to give everybody a run for the money. We showed that at Corporate Area Champs. Champs is different because there are so many other schools involved but we are here and we are not here to roll over and die,” Bennett said. “We want people to understand that Red Hills Road is here.”