Edwin Allen revel in maiden ‘Champs’ success
IT wasn’t a grand independence gala; neither was it the festive season, but the party-like atmosphere that swept the town of Frankfield yesterday in north west Clarendon could easily rival any national celebration.
Such is the importance of Edwin Allen High School’s maiden Girls’ Athletics Championships title to this small farming community.
"We feel really good that dem tek it home this year," said shopkeeper Louise Lewin, who was amongst a group of females observing the midmorning motorcade roving through the town.
"A longtime we want it up here," she added. "It big up the community and tek us to the top."
Edwin Allen, founded some 48 years ago, had been knocking at the door for some time now, but seemingly lacked the cutting edge needed to take them across the finish line — suffering nailbiting defeats in the last two years to dethroned champions Holmwood Technical.
But what a way to break the jinx — cantering away with the title by 131 points on Saturday night at the National Stadium in Kingston.
"It has been a long time in coming," sports master Nascive Brown said. "We’ve been preparing for this particular victory for some 20 years now."
He added: "We used to just participate in ‘Champs’ and win a couple medals, but when Elroy Ricketts became the principal in the 1980s he said we need to build a programme because once we have a sports programme we’ll eventually build the school.
"So, round about 1991 we recruited (coach) Michael Dyke, who is also a former member of the track team here, and each year we would gradually improve and that set the tone for what you see happening here today.
"Everybody is happy; students, members of staff and the community."
And now that they have made the breakthrough, Brown said they are now looking to create an athletic dynasty at the Frankfield school.
"It will be very difficult to take this title from us now," an understandably overjoyed Brown declared. "The foundation is in place and I knew this was all we needed to do to get the support."
He told the Jamaica Observer that the victory is not only an important milestone for the school, but also the community.
"Frankfield is in deep rural Clarendon, so the community relies heavily on the school for support. Whenever school is out shops are closed and the taxies and buses are parked along the street, so they really rely on the school for business," Brown explained.
As expected, earlier in the day, Monday morning devotion — though maintaining some form of reverence — was transformed into a grand party as students, past and present, teachers and community members danced to the rhythmic sounds of the school band and the bellowing vuvuzelas while awaiting the arrival of the victorious athletes.
And amidst loud cheers, a guard of honour was created as coach Dyke led his troops into the school’s courtyard to join the celebration that went well past midday.
Last year, Edwin Allen were heavily tipped to win their first title, but eventually lost out to Holmwood in the closing moments of the championship.
Dyke said while they were naturally disappointed to be pipped for the title, he saw such a close defeat as getting one step closer to victory one day.
"We lost in 2010 by 13 points and last year we lost by six points, so we knew that based on the trend this would have been our year," Dyke told the Observer.
"I will not say 10 years from now we’ll still have (the title), but I’m sure that next year it will be here because we’ll be defending our title."