There aren't many persons who can boast that they've represented their country in a sport, but Yolande Geddes-Hall has represented Jamaica in as many as four!
The eldest of five children, Yolande hails from a family headed by former Excelsior and Titchfield High School sports master and principal Mortimer Geddes. Her brothers are well known journalists David and Tino. She talks about growing up in a house where her father was a sports master... "Well I was hardly ever in the house, I was in the field. We used to live in the cottage opposite Excelsior, the sports master's cottage, so they were always having matches all around me, so I had experience from seeing, taking part, just generally getting involved in it."
Having represented the country in netball, table tennis, cricket and softball, Yolande also played lawn tennis and loved swimming. " I used to swim very, very well because my family came from Port Antonio and I used to swim quite a lot." In fact, it's the one thing she regrets not having represented Jamaica in. " I had the ability to swim, maybe, in the Olympics and I just didn't do that. I didn't have the time, because all the strokes I could do. I used to swim from Titchfield to Navy Island in the summer."
Not only that, she was also a member of a women's team that played in the first all female football match in the country
Geddes-Hall's career in sport has taken her to most of the Caribbean islands, to India while part of the West Indies women's cricket team (she was also captain of the Jamaica cricket team and the West Indies team), and to China where she played table tennis in the Friendship tournament in that country. Geddes-Hall was also nominated for sports woman of the year twice.
She doesn't recall having been discriminated against because of her sex... " I don't think so, because maybe my personality. Although I was involved in these male sports I was never rough and crude. People would accept me and because of the level of achievement, they would respect that too. I wasn't a challenge to them because I was already there."
She talks about her career change in the 1970's when, while working as public relations assistant at Jamaica Public Service she was asked without having had any professional training, to become sports mistress at her alma mater Alpha Academy. At the time she was pregnant with her only son and thought that by accepting the job at Alpha she might have more time with him once he was born... " At one third of the pay, none of the perks but I thought it was worth it because it was my old school..."
There were times when she had to leave son Dane behind while she travelled, but she had a way of getting through those periods.... " There would always be the hope and the promise and I would say well I'm going to bring gifts (for him) with me. I remember going on tour to India and I wrote him a letter. I got home before the letter reached."
She also has trained professionally in Ireland and England in Swedish massage and physical training.
Geddes-Hall's career path took another turn in September 1997 when she was appointed principal of St. Catherine Prep School... " The Archbishop announced that they needed a principal. I had never had that experience but he said 'I have the confidence in you' and he inspired me to apply and I got the job, I don't think anybody else was even considered."
She says she doesn't miss going from the high activity of physical education teacher to the slower pace of being principal ... " I think I had my fill, because I had been through it all, there was nothing else that I could really do or achieve, so maybe this just came at the right time."
There are innumerable rewards she says in being a school principal ... " The love of the children, the success of the grade six. I write all the school pageants for Christmas and Easter, I write plays for the children, little stories as well, that is great satisfaction."
She doesn't believe she will remain a principal indefinitely though with only two years left before official retirement... " I enjoy the job here so I may go on for a little, but certainly not indefinitely." She even runs into some of her old students who are now parents of children at St. Catherine... "They will come and say miss you used to teach me, and tell somebody else that I used to teach them."
Her only granddaughter, who turns two years old soon, now lives with her and she said she was happy to get the chance to see her grow up.
Dania Bogle is a Sports Journalist at KLAS Sports radio.