All's well that ends well, or does it?

Howard Walker

Sunday, February 09, 2014    

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THE saga of Jamaica's young Carifta discus champion Vashon McCarthy and his school, Ascot High, seems to have ended well as he will be entered for the prestigious ISSA Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships next month.

Ever since the Jamaica Observer broke the story that Ascot's principal Cedric Murray had threatened not to enter the young champion at Champs because he was not a part of the school's sports programme, debate raged islandwide about the principal's action.

But there are always two, sometimes three, sides to a story and everyone will claim they are right.

McCarthy is a powerfully built 16-year-old who won the Class Two shot put at Champs last year under the guidance of the school's head coach Errol Messiah, who spotted him a few years ago and eventually turned him into a champion.

McCarthy's mother, Dianna Lennon saw the promise in her son and decided she wanted outside help or simply "extra lessons," as she puts it, to take him further. The school's sports programme, she believes, cannot really take him any farther.

Lennon brought in renowned field events coach Michael Vassell to assist her son, but in doing so, McCarthy went to train at Excelsior where Vassell coaches in the evenings.

Nothing is wrong with that because over the years numerous athletes have benefited from training outside of their schools and they were allowed to participate at Champs.

But is it really extra lessons when the child is not participating in the school's sports programme? His mother said he did, but with the head coach not around too often, he felt abandoned, hence his training since late-September at Excelsior.

In stepped the principal Murray, who pronounced that the student would not be going to Champs because he was not a part of the school's programme and he didn't know exactly what the youngster was doing outside of his school's borders.

Principal Murray was now the villain. But when one examines his views, he, too, has some valid points. If he signs a paper to enter McCarthy at Champs without knowing exactly what the student is doing, would he be an irresponsible principal? Murray said he only takes instructions and recommendations from his staff and Vassell is certainly not one of them. A good point.

He claimed the youngster should at least be training at the school, but then, a compromise would have to be reached and that never happened after a heated meeting with the parents ended abruptly when McCarthy's stepfather and coach Messiah almost came to blows.

The other question is, if Murray sends McCarthy to Champs, who would be monitoring the youngster during those days? Would it be Messiah, who ironically, coaches at Calabar and will be fighting for championship honours? Would he have the time for McCarthy? I don't think so. But again McCarthy won last year under his guidance.

McCarthy's situation is obviously difficult, as more questions arise. Isn't Vassell going to be busy with his girls at Excelsior High, or is it that by the time Champs comes around McCarthy would be the finished article and not in need of his guidance?

Luckily, a compromise was reached and McCarthy will be entered to participate at Champs, if he trains at the school at least once a week.

But then again, there might be another issue of his eligibility based on his academics, an issue the Inter-Secondary Schools' Sports Association (ISSA) will have to deal with.

Is this a master stroke by principal Murray to say, well, I entered him but ISSA turned him down based on his academics? Is this a move that would shift the blame from the school to the organisers?

It would be interesting to know McCarthy's grades last year when he was entered and won gold for Ascot!

Is it that he has now lost focus and his grades suddenly dropped below the minimum required average stipulated by ISSA?

I am sure if all was well with the school and young McCarthy from the outset, academics would not be an issue at this point, as it wasn't last year.

All's well that ends well, it seems. Best of luck to McCarthy and Ascot as they embark on another chapter in the school's young history.





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