Riley drafts plan as XLCR coach
A week after assuming his new post as head coach of Excelsior High School's Boys' athletics team, David Riley says he has been settling in well.
"We've been having training sessions. It has been rather interesting; it's been pretty good," the Excelsior alumni told the Jamaica Observer after officially coming on board on August 1.
That was three months after parting company with Wolmer's Boys' on April 30 after spending nine seasons at the Heroes Circle institution. He became head coach in 2009 following the departure of Bert Cameron.
Riley led Wolmer's to the 2010 ISSA GraceKennedy Boys Championships title in the centenary year of 'Champs' and 100 years since the school first claimed the prestigious crown in 1910.
"I'm directly responsible for the Boys', but I provide assistance to the Girls' programme," Riley said of his role at Excelsior.
The former jumper who holds an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Level II Coach Certificate has gained experience coaching at the national level since graduation in 2007.
He has been head coach to the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010 and the IAAF World Youth Championships in Lillie, France a year later. Riley also guided Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Junior Championships and CARIFTA teams.
"There were many offers. Of the offers that I got it's the one that would require me to build a programme pretty much from scratch... that intrigued me," he explained.
"The others were established and have a more recent history of success — not necessarily winning at 'Champs', but in producing quality athletes," said Riley of his decision to coach his alma mater.
And what does he intend to bring to the programme?
"A lot of experience and 'know how'. I hope to put some more structure there and get some results; there is a proven way of doing it. The goal remains the same — just develop the athletic skill of the students there and let's see where that takes them. That's my primary focus this year," he added.
"The recent tradition at Excelsior is that not many students participate. You never know what the quality is," he said.
Riley has a special place in his heart for the field events, adding that only Wolmer's and Kingston College (KC) have produced jumpers at a national level in recent times.
"I'm not necessarily focusing on it, but that particular vision is something that can be accomplished anywhere. They don't just fall out of the sky into your hand. It's a development programme and... can take place anywhere. Track and field is heavily knowledge-driven, so once you learn certain things, you can bring that to any team," he explained.
A qualified engineer who boasts a Master's Degree in Material Science and Engineering from Georgia Tech and a Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering from North-eastern University in Boston, Riley said field events need to be developed.
"We need to see to their transition to the senior level. We have a task to produce some really good field events athletes for 2016 (Olympics)," he posited.
Riley, who attended Excelsior at the same time as former national 400m representative Gregory Haughton, said there is only one regret about his departure from Wolmer's, which incidentally, he also attended.
"To this day, nobody has said anything to me about anything. All I got was a letter terminating my services. There has been no forum to ask me any questions," he rued.
Excelsior is the only school to have won separate Boys and Girls Championships titles.