THE cricket infrastructure at St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) came in for special praise at the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/ GraceKennedy awards ceremony held at Sabina Park recently.
The Santa Cruz-based institution took all three Under-19 titles this season to remain the undisputed kingpins of schoolboy cricket. Inevitably, STETHS stole the spotlight for the respective team and individual awards.
Julian Robinson, Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, who was a winner of the urban area Under-19 title at Campion College and guest speaker at the function, said the school's success speaks to the "system" they have had in place over the years.
"When you look at a school — and I'm talking from my time when we won Sunlight Cup in 1987 and '88 we played against STETHS (in the all-island Spalding Cup playoff) — and they were consistently winning from that time. That's 25-30 years of consistent success. It speaks to a system, it speaks to coaching and it speaks to leadership.
"Clearly they have found a system that produces excellence. I have to acknowledge and congratulate them for whatever they are doing down there because it is working. To produce that consistency of success in a particular discipline is really amazing," Robinson told the Jamaica Observer.
Under head coach Clive Ledgister, STETHS have won five Spalding Cup crowns since 2007, and only missed out on a sixth after the final was not contested in 2009. In that time they have won six straight rural area Grace Headley Cup competitions and also dominated the limited-overs competition.
The 2012 triumph pushed them to an impressive total of 25 Headley Cup titles.
Principal of STETHS Keith Wellington embraced the plaudits at the ceremony, which was also attended by GraceKennedy chairman Douglas Orane, ISSA president Dr Walton Small and ISSA competitions officer George Forbes.
"It (the success) speaks well for our structure at STETHS. We have been working very hard. We have won six in a row, but before that we had lost out for four successive years. It speaks a lot to discipline and the dedication of students involved as well as hard work and planning of the coaching staff," Wellington said.
Ledgister, winner of the Rafael Diaz Trophy for his sixth hold on the Coach of the Year title, said he felt "fantastic" at being recognised and commended the GraceKennedy Group for their support of schoolboy cricket.
"I'm feeling fantastic at the moment. It has been a very long and tiring road for us and I'm happy that we have reached all our goals. I'm extremely pleased.
"There are few sponsors of cricket in Jamaica. My hat goes off to Grace because they have been doing an extremely good job. I want to thank them because these youngsters are the future of the country and the future of the sport," he said.
Meanwhile, Innswood High, losers to STETHS in the last three editions of the Spalding Cup, were awarded for winning the Grace Shield and JIIC Knockout competitions.
Their coach Kirk Gordon is already looking ahead to 2013 for a chance to break the dominance of their rural area adversaries.
"I'm not totally satisfied because we missed out the Spalding Cup for the third time in a row, but I can't complain after winning two out of three trophies that were available to us. We have to go back to the drawing board and come bigger and better in 2013," Gordon said.
The urban area First Global Bank 'A' League Trophy went to Pembroke Hall High.
The urban area Allied Insurance Brokers Under-16 Trophy was won by Eltham High; the rural area First Global Financial Services Under-16 and all-island Under-16 went to Holmwood Technical; the urban area Grace/ Jackie Hendricks Under-14 and all-island Under-14 to Excelsior High; the rural area Under-14 title to Old Harbour High.
STETHS captain and former national youth leg-spinner Donavan Nelson, who was given a special award for having contested a remarkable six consecutive Headley Cup finals, said he felt "honoured and special" to have been acknowledged for the "dedication and hard work".
Marketing manager of JIIC Elizabeth Chung said the entire group of companies is committed to helping youngsters by remaining an active ingredient in schoolboy cricket set-up.
"We want to continue being involved in schoolboy cricket. Cricket is such a well-discplined game and a sport that gentlemen play. We support children's participation and it means we are contributing to the discipline in our youth.
"We want to see them growing with that sense of discipline, passion and commitment and that is what us participating has always been about — not just JIIC, but the entire GraceKennedy Group," she said.