Western Jamaica coaches mourn Dwayne Humphrey's passing

Observer West writer

Thursday, October 01, 2020

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MONTEGO BAY, St James -The late coach and physical education teacher Dwayne Humphrey, who died of a heart attack at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) last week, will be missed, says Stephen Smith and Sean Rhooms, two of the coaches who worked closely with him throughout his career.

The 47- year-old Humphrey, who last coached Alston High to the second round of the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) daCosta Cup football competition last season, their best in years, was hospitalised with a heart condition that he suffered from for the past 20 years, his family told the Jamaica Observer West.

Humphrey, who had travelled to Germany three years ago to get treatment for his heart, needed surgery for problems with the valves to his heart which was also enlarged, but died before he could undergo any of the procedures, even the preparatory ones, despite most of the money being raised to cover the surgeries.

Smith, who is also the president of the County of Cornwall Athletics Association (COCAA), and who attended the then Petersfield Secondary in Westmoreland the same time as Humphrey, remembered him as “a good athlete who had the work ethic to represent the school in three sports—football, track and field and cricket, which was his number one sport back then.”

Even while they were in their teens, Smith said Humphrey showed determination and “did not give up easily in anything that he was involved in”.

Smith, who played a big role in helping to raise funds to assist with Humphrey's medical expenses, said while the late coach was a “strong disciplinarian,” he also had the ability to work one- on- one with his student/athletes, as he tried to get the best out of every one of them.

Smith recalled that at the time when they were in school, it was difficult for secondary school students to get the chance to sit subjects in the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC), adding that with the limited space, Petersfield had just one class of students preparing for it annually. He added however, that Humphrey was at that time a part of that class.

Rhooms, who now teaches at Cornwall College, but spent many years at Mt Alvernia Preparatory, worked alongside Humphrey for about 14 years when they coordinated the Western Preparatory Schools football competition, said Humphrey was always willing to share his knowledge and ideas about coaching.

“He [Humphrey] was a very good coach and physical education teacher who earned the love and respect from students, teacher and parents, everywhere he taught,” Rhooms stressed.

“Both of us worked together for more than 15 years as coaches and PE teachers in the prep school in western Jamaica and during that time Mr Humphrey helped to develop a lot of talents in western Jamaica in cricket, football, tennis, track and field and basketball.”

Rhooms said during the time they staged the football competition, a number of talented youngsters were discovered, several of whom went on to represent their high schools up to the daCosta Cup level, while some played in the Premier League football.

“He was never afraid to take on any coaching task, whether prep school, high school or club,” Rhooms told the Observer West, adding that “his passion for football saw him venturing into other parishes to take on coaching duties.”

Humphrey coached football at Knockalva Technical and Irwin High before moving to Alston High. He also coached Reggae Youths in the Western Confederation Super League and was part of the youth coaching staff at Montego Bay United.

The late Humphrey's plight was highlighted in the Observer West just over three weeks ago after he made a plea for financial assistance to undergo what was then an urgent operation. A fund-raising drive was subsequently launched by COCAA.

Humphrey's plight came to the attention of the public after voice mails he sent out pleading for assistance.

“I am very, very sick, I need open heart surgery...the operation will take place at the University hospital as soon as the funds are raised.

“I am begging and pleading, I don't know if anyone has any contact with the Jamaica Cricket Association or any other organisation that can help me, please I am desperate,” he said in his voice message.

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