KC hunts new track coach in wake of Byfield’s departure

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter

Sunday, May 18, 2014

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ORVILLE Byfield, the technical director and head coach of Kingston College’s (KC) track and field team, was relieved of his duties last Wednesday, the Sunday Observer understands.

At the same time, Byfield, a KC old boy, was offered the position of working with the shot put and discus throwers, but it is unclear whether or not he has, or will accept that role.

Byfield led KC to second position at this year's Boys’ Athletic Championship, but was later accused at the Athletic Championship, but was later accused at the prestigious Penn Relays by one of his assistant coaches, Raymond ‘KC’ Graham, of meddling, being a bully and acting like a dictator.

Noel Channer, KC's sports co-ordinator, confirmed that Byfield, one of Jamaica’s most qualified coaches, was sacked, but refrained from commenting further.

"We had a meeting and it was the consensus that we won't say anything to the media," noted Channer, who referred the Sunday Observer to the principal Dave Myrie. However, Myrie did not answer calls made to his cellular telephone up to when the newspaper was preparing to meet its press deadline.

It is understood that Myrie called Byfield to a meeting at his North Street, Kingston. office and told him flatly that his services would no longer be needed. An explanation was not given to Byfield as to why such a decision was taken, the Sunday Observer was told.

But it is further understood that a subsequent meeting of the remaining members of the school’s athletics coaching staff was held during which "certain key issues" were dealt with, a source told this newspaper.

Meanwhile, Byfield, who was an outstanding thrower for KC between 1997 and 2000 and who took control of the school's athletics programme last year, also refused to comment on the matter extensively.

"I will not make any comments at this time," was his terse response.

From April there were signs that all was not well in the famed Purples camp. While celebrating their 50th year at the Penn Relays, ‘KC’ Graham, the coach responsible for relays and hurdles, hit hard at his head coach Byfield after they finished a disappointing fifth in the 4x100m relays.

Graham accused Byfield of being a bully and that he tampered with his relay team, went behind his back and made changes that cost the school victory.

But Byfield dismissed Graham's attack as "emotional" and that there "was no basis" for the attack, and said it was the relays coach who wanted to go against the decisions of the coaching panel in Philadelphia.

Byfield had also rubbished the accusation that he acts like a dictator in an Observer story. "If I am a person who works in a collective way, if we make decisions collectively, how is it then that I am a dictator?" he asked.

Byfield stated then that the coaching staff would be meeting to resolve the matter once and for all when the group returned to Jamaica.

Byfield first won gold for KC in the Class Two shot put and discus and repeated the feat in 1999, breaking the Class One discus record with a throw of 54.04m and second in the shot put with 15.62m.

In 2000, he won the Class One shot put with a throw of 16.30m and placed second in the discus with 54.38m. Calabar's Maurice Smith, with whom he had some epic battles, won in a record 57.08m.

Byfield earned a BSc degree in physical education from a university in Cuba and is head of the department in the Caribbean School of Sport Sciences in the Faculty of Science & Sport (FOSS) at the University of Technology, Jamaica.

The search for his replacement has begun, and the Sunday Observer understands that it won't be coming from within the enclave of the famed KC ranks of past students, but instead a "name brand coach" from outside.

That tradition was broken with Lenworth Hyde taking charge of the football programme for this season in an effort to end the school’s 28-year drought and win their first Manning Cup title since 1986.

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