It never fails to amaze to see the first tulips shoot from the ground after a long winter. More pointedly, in Beal Gardens in my neck of the woods, on either side of the jogging trail along the Red Cedar River, a cacophony colors has exploded. A few months ago the shoulders of this same trail were covered in crisp ice. Not a jack man dare raise his head. The tulips have no voice. But their carriage and color now loudly express triumph. They know how to survive. Man has the brains, but nature provides instruction: Sometimes one has to wait things out.
I recall seeing an undefeated Test century crafted by the Australian David Boon at Sabina some years back. That hundred had neither the color, nor flair of the tulips, but was instructive just the same. Battered, bloodied and bruised, it was no small feat to survive against Ambrose, Patterson, Marshall and Walsh in their pomp, and then thrive. In the end, the grisly little Tasmanian could raise his bat in triumph.
Life isn’t all fun and games. It’s mostly about learning the lessons of surviving, rebounding, and then yes, triumphing.
Wasn’t to Be
It would have been one to remember back in March, had Kingston College topped the Champs 100. Those who get out on ninety-nine, do not as brightly shine. But who can envy Wolmer’s and their story-tale line – winning the first and the hundredth time? The Gods must have thought that they needed to win, and, that we needed to lose. In the long run let’s hope that the experience will instruct.
In sports, as in life, there’s no entitlement. The color purple is a bull’s-eye, and not a shield. To win, we had to out-run, out-jump, and out-throw. And we did not.
In the 60s, there were as nowhere near the ninety-five schools competing, as there were in March. Now there is, it seems, a secondary school on every corner, offering copious opportunities for those to shine, in the largest high school meet of its kind.
What Does This Mean to KC?
For one, this means that a youngster who is a promising primary school athlete, does not necessarily have to go to one of the `elite-four’ - Wolmer’s, Calabar, Kingston College or Jamaica College, in order to grace the front page of the Sunday-after newspapers. Minivans now ply the same routes as `Jolly-Josephs'.
If Kingston College has a mission statement it might read: To attract, retain and produce young men fit to lead meaningful lives in society. Forget the `all-races-and-classes’ jargon. That’s implied.
To attract young men to Kingston College, the environment for expression – both in sports and in academia – must exist. But this environment cannot be created by infrastructure alone. As important as block-and-steel might be, an environment for success has to have other ingredients. It must be kneaded with proper dough. Guidance, training, leadership and example, are some that come to mind. This mix cannot only be parts-and-parcels of the environment enveloped by the walls around the North Street campus. It must permeate it.
Beyond The Walls
What exists within those walls are what students will see when they get there. If KC is lucky, talented prospects might get a guided tour before-hand and talk to teachers. Those things will impress.
But what will impress even more, is how Kingston College alumni conduct themselves in public. Sometimes we forget that we are `walking billboards’ for our school. And with that in mind, it is incumbent on us all, to try and conduct ourselves accordingly. In the age of camera-phones, digital cameras and all the other state-of-the-art gizmos, public displays of unedifying behavior, travel fast – much faster than by `mout’.
KC’s Wider Diaspora
It is becoming evident that to create and maintain infrastructure, and to support programs of various sorts at KC, capital is required. And as the Jamaica government becomes increasingly strapped, a good bit of this support funding is now being supplemented by the unstinting efforts of KC alumni associations; not only those in Jamaica, but those in faraway places as well. Alumni associations abroad, work tirelessly year-round, staging one fundraising event after another, the proceeds of which are funneled back to their beloved alma mater.
Not that their efforts are any more to be lauded than those of the boots-on-the-ground. But neither should they be subordinated. Every-mickle-mek-a-muckle.
Dispelling the Stereotype
But, money is not everything. Economic gurus these days, talk about the fact that creating successful nations will depend a lot more on those who hold ideas, as opposed to those who hold dollars. The same might apply to organizations, including schools as well. In this regard, KC needs all hands on deck. None of the willing should be alienated.
Traditionally, the overseas diaspora is more encouraged to deliver dollars than ideas. That must change. Undoubtedly, ideas without the means of delivery will hardly be worth their salt. But ever so often, the Kingston College family must remind itself that ideas grow in fertile minds, irrespective of where those minds might be. The fraternity must not be pitted in camps, lest the ability to continue moving forward be weakened.
A Laugh and Some Encouragement
Speaking about triumph, I ran into Mr. Stewart Stephenson a few months ago, and reminded him that we both shared something in common: Hardly scholarship, I hasten to add.
During our schooldays, we were both dropped from cricket teams by sportsmaster Trevor Parchment. The reason given for Stewart’s temporary demise was dubious. It was said that he talked too much. As it now turns out, it might have been prescient.
“And now imagine. I teach people to talk,” he said with a laugh, referring to the fact that he’s now a lecturer on the law faculty at the University of the West Indies, Mona. Now isn’t that triumph!
I ran into another `talker' - the verbose commentator and former law student Bobby Fray. From schooldays, I have admired his scholarship. And since then, our paths have, on occasion, crossed above the action at Sabina Park.
“Mr. Ford, where is your pen?” he sternly asked. His question could not have been better timed.
More encouragement was lent, when I caught up with Dr. Carolyn Cooper at Studio 38 while taking in the irrepressible `Toots' Hibbert. “Let every voice be heard,” was the line she dropped.
Let’s take the doctor’s advice.