Hydel High School celebrates 'historic' championship, principal hopes success brings greater support

By April 03, 2023

In 2010, Dr. Walton Small, in his first year as principal at Wolmer’s High School for Boys’ presided over proceedings when they celebrated their first hold on the Mortimer Geddes Trophy in 100 years as boys’ champions of the ISSA GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships.

Fast-forward 13 years, and Dr Small, in his first year as principal of Hydel High School, is celebrating once again. The school which is celebrating its 30th anniversary won their first ever girls’ title at the 113-year-old high school championships.

Does he see himself as a sort of lucky charm?

Perhaps not, but he believes Hydel winning at the five-day athletics championships that concluded on Saturday, was the result of everyone playing their part.

“I am not sure (he is a lucky charm) but for me, my role as an educator whether it was at Wolmer’s or at Hydel, is of father, motivator,” he said as the school celebrated at its Ferry campus in St Catherine, the historic win after dethroning eight-time defending champions Edwin Allen by a mere two points – 279 to 277.

“That is my role to make them feel special; tell them at devotion, let them dance at devotion. I brought Mr (Coach Corey) Bennett there. I said come and dance for them at devotion so that they can feel relaxed and comfortable. So, I think that our role is to make sure they are good, make sure their assignments are done.

“We played our part and left the important part to the track team. They have done something special this year, the 30th anniversary.”

The timing of the victory, he said, was significant as he believes it will bring attention to the school’s desperate needs.

“I think it (the championship) was to bring attention to us. The school has been ravaged by fire, by the pandemic. We need serious support, we need attention; Corporate Jamaica and government needs to come in and assist us,” he said explaining that Hydel has so much to offer.

“This can be a one-stop shop for track and field and quality academic education because we are balancing sports.

“I have no doubt that this is going to help us. We can’t even manage any influx of athletes now because we do not have the proper facilities to accommodate them. We have the buildings but we need to retro-fit them. Once we get this help we can accommodate as many students as possible because we have a lot of buildings here,” said Dr Small who was appointed principal in September 2022.

Early on in the proceedings on Monday, the celebrations began under the blazing mid-morning sun when members of the victorious track team led the excited student population in a march onto the campus to the sound of music and blaring vuvuzelas.

Coach Corey Bennett came dancing once more, which raised the intensity of the cheers seemingly ten-fold. He danced on stage with his athletes before delivering an inspirational speech about the early days of Hydel track and field, how it has grown and developed over the last decade despite lingering doubts about the school’s ability to win a championship.  A coach, who is no longer in the sport “told me I was wasting my time,” he said.

He said Hydel sent a four-member team to their first ever Champs in 2010 when they finished 11th. A few years later they were fifth and after a few years of coming close, they have finally delivered.

He ended with a recital of the Lord’s Prayer with the audience joining in before shouting “God is good! God is good!”

CEO and President of GraceKennedy Financial Group, Grace Burnett, hailed the athletes for the tremendous achievement while singling out the performance of Kaydeen Johnson, who fell at the final barrier of the 2000m steeplechase but still managed to rise and go on to win. Johnson also won the 3000m.

Burnett said that what happened in the steeplechase was inspirational.

“Kaydeen fell during the steeplechase, she got up and she ran and she won,” she said to cheers and blaring vuvuzelas. “Sometimes in life things knock you down. You can stay lying down or you can get up, you can put your heart into it and still win.”

 She also singled out “superstar” Alana Reid who won three gold medals – the 100m in a new record of 10.92, the 200m and the 4x100m relay, team captain Oneika McAnnuff, who won the 400m hurdles and was second in the 400m, whom she described as a true leader.

She also mentioned Jody-Ann Daley who won the Class II 400m and Nastassia Fletcher, who took home gold in the Class III one lap race.

Hydel Board Chairman Ryan Foster also praised the team and shed light on the process of how the board assembled a team of administrators that helped give Hydel the push to create history in Jamaica’s high school track and field.

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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