Prominent western Ja track and field coach heads to William KnibbThursday, August 05, 2021
BY PAUL A REID
LUCEA, Hanover — Roderick Myles, the track and field coach at Rusea's High School, is set to take over at William Knibb Memorial High in Martha Brae, Trelawny, ending his highly successful eight-year stint at the Lucea-based institution.
In an exclusive interview with the Jamaica Observer West this week, Myles said while it was a difficult decision to walk away from the programme that he built into a serious contender, he felt he had no option given there was a breakdown between himself and the administration of the school.
He said the season that just ended was the breaking point as it felt like “a change in administration, different direction and different thinking and that is why I have made up my mind to leave Rusea's.”
He argued that the novel coronavirus pandemic added “an extra level of difficulty.”
“Yes, we were in a pandemic but a number of things happened; things that I was not in agreement with as I said before there were ways in which the admin [administration] dealt with the programme and we just could not find a common ground,” he argued.
There were no shortage of offers from across the island for the man who led Rusea's to four County of Cornwall Athletics Association (COCAA) girls' titles, a perennial top 10 at the ISSA Girls' Championships, success internationally at the Penn Relays as well scores of athletes representing national teams and over 40 taking up scholarships locally and internationally.
The Westmoreland native, who represented Manning's School in track and field, said however, that he chose to stay in the western region.
“I have decided to go to William Knibb to reunite with my former principal at Rusea's Mr Linvern Wright. I had other offers but I wanted to stay close to home and family and William Knibb has a rich history and Trelawny is known to have an abundance of talent, so I am expecting great things, and already some past students have reached out and they are excited about the prospects,” he argued.
He told the Observer West, “We are awaiting a plan for the programme from the school and then we will see what happens from there.”
He added that he wants to build on the legacy left by the likes of world record holder Usain Bolt as well as Marvin Anderson and others who have represented the school with distinction.
“William Knibb has not had any big moments [in track and field] lately, but I am sure there are enough talents there now and in the parish, but it comes down to the administration to lead the way,” he pointed out.
A number of Rusea's past students and even members of the school's board of governors, he said, had asked him to reconsider his decision to leave, but he said, “I was hoping that it would be one of those programmes that would work for a long time, but I think a change in administration, different direction and different thinking and that is why I have made up my mind to leave Rusea's.”
“I gave them an extra year, it was a very difficult year and I don't wish to go into any details, but it was a really difficult year for me with the programme and with the students. A number of things happened differently from what we were accustomed to,” said Myles.
He said the involvement of the alumni is always welcomed but the buck stops with the administration. “If the administration is not fully involved it won't work, it can't be just what the past students are saying, there has to be some common ground and we could not find one,” he stressed.
One of the bigger issues, he told the Observer West, was himself and the athletes who did not live in Hanover having to bear the cost from their own pockets to get to training. “You had national representatives having to take three taxis to get to training; that cannot work. I thought it was best to move on as we could not find a common ground as I could not see the programme working under those conditions and there was no clear vision where the programme wanted to go.”
He said those who supported the programme understood the benefits that came from the success that they had earned.
“We have sent away over 40 students on scholarships in the last seven years, 27 overseas and the rest locally. This year we had nine people getting scholarships and one opted to stay at home,” he said. He conceded that “maybe the pandemic caused some of the problems but there were other issues that were not being dealt with like lack of nutrition”.
There are a number of outstanding athletes still at Rusea's High, but Myles said he will not ask any of them to move with him to the Martha Brae-based institution.
“I have no intention to take anyone with me,” he stressed.
“My view is that any transfer must be between the parents and that school and whatever they decide is what will happen, as long as the parents want to move a child, it is up to them. It's not the business of anyone but the parents and the school,” he argued.
Before he went to Rusea's in 2013, Myles coached at Frome Technical in the neighbouring parish of Westmoreland between 2006 and 2010, where a number of talents emerged, including national shot put record holder and Commonwealth Games champion Danniel Thomas-Dodd and World Championships 400m hurdles bronze medallist Roschell Clayton.
Frome Technical was also named the Most Improved School at the ISSA Championships in 2008.
The successes at Rusea's, Myles said, were many and varied, pointing out that his athletes won titles at the ISSA Championships in practically every area — sprints, middle and long distance, jumps, throws and the multi-events, heptathlon and decathlon.
His time at Rusea's, he said, was one of growth for him personally and as a coach.
“I learned how to win as a coach, that is what comes to mind,” he said, when asked what he took from the last eight years.
“From the start it was very good, Stephanie Barrett won 3000m which was the first gold medal for the school at Champs on the girls' side, lots of history was made, we won at Penn Relays in the 'Small Schools' finals; this year we saw the emergence of Lavanya Williams and Aaliyah Francis; we had Akeen Colley who won the Class 1 boys' 1500m running in one foot of spikes for most of the race, Raheim Scott who won twice at Champs...,” he noted.
“My proudest moment was to see poor children getting the opportunity to attend universities here and in the United States on scholarships. There are way more good memories than bad ones and I choose to recall the good moments.”
Myles, who was a member of the Jamaican coaching staff to the recent NACAC Championships in Costa Rica, said he counted seven athletes who had links to Rusea's on the Jamaican team, including high jumper Lamara Distin and discus thrower Roje Stona, who both transferred to other schools and are now attending college in the US.