Stu­dent ath­letes and aca­demics

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

The three-peat Olympic 100m and 200m gold medal­list, Usain Bolt, shares some lens time with J. Wray & Nephew’s Pi­etro Gramegna (left), mar­ket­ing man­ager, white spir­its; and Ce­cil Smith, com­mer­cial di­rec­tor, at the Olympic re­cep­tion at Ja­maica House on Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 14.

IT’S BRIL­LIANT that a fourth-form class of 33 stu­dents at Wolmer’s Girls’ School could sit CXC Math­e­mat­ics and ham­mer it to the tune of 33 dis­tinc­tions.

This ac­com­plish­ment speaks vol­umes about the ap­ti­tude and at­ti­tude of the girls, the work of their teacher and the learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment pro­vided at the school. A closer look re­veals good news for sport.

Five of those 33 bright sparks rep­re­sent Wolmer’s in sport. This quin­tet in­cludes na­tional Un­der-17 goal­keeper Oneilia Yearde, three track and field hope­fuls and the other is part of the tra­di­tion­ally strong Wolmer’s vol­ley­ball group.

Their suc­cess flies in the face of the con­ven­tional wis­dom that as­serts that aca­demics and sport don’t mix.

We’ve all heard the sto­ries about sports­men who needed help to com­plete their travel doc­u­ments, ca­pa­ble only of a barely leg­i­ble scrib­ble for a sig­na­ture. I haven’t heard those tales in years.

The In­ter-Sec­ondary Schools Sports As­so­ci­a­tion (ISSA), the gov­ern­ing body for high school sport and the teach­ers in our schools de­serve a lot of credit.

Years ago, ISSA in­sti­tuted a min­i­mum aca­demic per­for­mance el­i­gi­bil­ity rule. This statute sets out to en­sure that stu­dent-ath­letes have to make an ef­fort in the class­room as well as on the field of play.

Re­cently, I wit­nessed a teacher hand­ing out as­sign­ments to mem­bers of a Man­ning Cup team af­ter a match. She is­sued a word of en­cour­age­ment to each re­cip­i­ent and re­minded all of the due date for com­ple­tion. That type of care and dili­gence for our stu­dent-sports is very valu­able.

The teacher of the Wolmer’s 33 is Lance Mc­Far­lane, a Boys and Girls’ Cham­pi­onships medal-win­ning sprint hur­dler and 400-me­tre run­ner for Kingston Col­lege (KC) in 1999 and 2000.

GOOD NEWS

Teacher Mc­Far­lane rep­re­sents an­other piece of good news. Though his days as an ac­tive ath­lete are long gone, he is ex­celling in the class­room. With his help, those 33 young ladies have put CXC math­e­mat­ics be­hind them. Now they can tackle fifth form with a lighter course load and with the con­fi­dence that they can do well at what­ever they choose.

He also is a sym­bol of a pro­duc­tive life for re­tired sports­men and women. Re­tire­ment comes sooner, for some like Mc­Far­lane, or later for lu­mi­nar­ies like the in­com­pa­ra­ble Usain Bolt, but it comes nev­er­the­less.

If they pur­sue their new lives with the en­ergy they showed as ath­letes, they can be suc­cess­ful.

Some may walk away as Bolt plans to do next year as global brands, with the world at their feet. Oth­ers may test the wa­ters in busi­ness be­fore they re­tire like su­per sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. What­ever the course of ac­tion, all must care­fully map the way for­ward for the rest of their lives.

For now, let’s all hail Yearde and her fel­low stu­den­tath­letes in that stel­lar group of 33 at Wolmer’s Girl’s. Along with their teacher, they rep­re­sent bright hope for the fu­ture.

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