Cornwall College 'baller Birch targets career in dental medicine

Cornwall College 'baller Birch targets career in dental medicine

Thursday, February 27, 2020

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — In an era where schoolboys — footballers are increasingly targeting professional football and the fame and fortune that it offers, Cornwall College's Solano Birch is breaking that mould as he looks towards a career in medicine.

Birch, who won the first ever Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) football academic award at a recent ceremony, says while he is not ready to hang up his boots at the end of his high school career, football is a means to an end for him as his ultimate goal is to become a dental surgeon.

Birch is the second Cornwall College athlete to win an academic award after high jumper Daniel Meggo won the Bright Spike Award, given to the top academic student competing at the 2019 ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships.

The midfielder, who transferred from cross-town rivals Herbert Morrison Technical two years ago after completing 11th grade, has nine distinctions in CSEC, getting his first in ninth grade in 2016 and eight more in 11th grade and also has two Grade Ones and two Grade Threes in CAPE.

He told the Jamaica Observer recently that “I feel rewarded as I have worked hard enough to get what I have achieved”.

Birch, who was in the chemistry lab with his classmates when this newspaper caught up with him, said: “I feel very proud to know that I have put in the hard work and kept focused and now I am being rewarded for it.”

“At this time for me playing football is secondary, it's more of the academics side that is more important to me as I try to stay focused in school and the sports come naturally,” he said.

Birch says he wants to follow the footsteps of his coach at Cornwall College, Dr Dean Weatherly, and pursue a career in dental surgery.

“I wanted to do medicine, but I have been motivated by coach Weatherly as he is one of my role models,” noted the player.

Birch's other role model is his uncle, former Reggae Boy Dane Richards, who played professionally in the United States and England.

He is not fussy about where he will attend school and says The University of the West Indies, Mona is an option, while he has reached out to a number of American institutions without luck.

Birch claimed his two seasons playing for Cornwall College brought mixed results.

“The first season I overperformed based on my own expectations, while this last season was not as good but I learned valuable lessons from it; it was not what I expected and I underperformed,” he shared..

In his first season in 2018, Birch played a big role in Cornwall College becoming the first school outside of Kingston to win the ISSA Champions Cup. The team also went to the final of the daCosta Cup.

In 2019, despite losing almost two-thirds of the team, Cornwall College got the the semi-finals of both the daCosta Cup and ISSA Champions Cup.

Leaving Herbert Morrison to attend Cornwall College was not as difficult as it may have seemed, he said.

“The transition was not hard as most of the boys I know at Cornwall, I had known from primary school; we played on the same parish teams and also came through the Under-13 competition, so the socialising was not a factor in settling into the new school,” Birch stated.

Not that there were not hurdles to clear, but that came mainly in the classroom.

“The hardest thing adjusting to was the teaching style at Cornwall, which was much harder, especially in chemistry, but it was just the teaching styles,” he explained.

When he chose to attend Cornwall, Birch said their were other options.

“My uncle [Richards] went to Cornwall, so he had a hand in it, but I also had Kingston College as an option... [but I] have no regrets in coming to Cornwall, and things happen for a reason,” he ended.

— Paul Reid

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