December 2011 Volume 8

KCOBA Tribute to Howard Aris

Dr. Ray Fraser
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On behalf of the Kingston College Old Boys' Association (KCOBA) Miami, New York, Atlanta, Toronto and Jamaica Chapters, KC Staff and the rest of the KC Family, I want to extend condolences to the Aris family. I want to also apologize for Professor Stephen Vasciannie/Chairman of the Board of Governors of KC who is unavoidably absent.

The KC Fraternity has lost yet another stalwart and prominent Old Boy, an Icon and a Legend. The KC Old Boys are recognized and respected for their loyalty, dedication, commitment, love and passion for school and those who do not understand us, may call it arrogance - "Fudge," as he was affectionately called, exemplified all these characteristics.

Howard entered KC in 1948 and until his death, like most boys who enter KC, he never left. At school, he was strongly influenced by the great Bishop Gibson and was moulded to be that rounded student who excelled both in academia and sports. His ability as Sports Leader, Organizer and Motivator started its manifestation at school as a House Captain when he had the responsibility to recruit young potential athletes. He was an outstanding athlete and competed in High Jump, Long Jump and Hurdles. He was a member of the winning championship team of 1953 and 1954 of which he was the captain and also champion athlete.

After graduating from KC, he studied physiotherapy at Columbia University, USA. It was on his return that he started making his significant contribution to KC. Apart from being a coach, he was a mentor, role model, father figure, advisor, counselor and a friend to the athletes. He was kindhearted and generous and understood the importance of giving back as well as volunteerism. As a Physiotherapist and Coach, and as is the culture of KC where coaches are not financially compensated, Mr. Aris serviced not only KC but athletes from other institutions and those representing the country. He may have been a physiotherapist by profession but he understood and applied the principles of sports psychology in his work. He was an excellent listener and one of his strengths was to instill confidence.

Fudge understood the power of the Fortis Spirit and the determination of the Purple Heart and expertly used it to achieve phenomenal performances from the boys. This was demonstrated in Champs 1975 after Bally Reid broke the 100 metre record set by Donald Quarrie and then in the 200 metre pulled at 60 metres before the finish line and according to Balle he found the Aris overdrive to finish the race equalling the record.

He was an exceptional motivator and had the ability to spot good talent and appropriately guide them in events that would realize their true potential. Speaking to past athletes, they have all expressed their eternal gratitude to Mr. Aris. One amongst them is Ian Stapleton, one of KC's most outstanding athletes, whose favourite events were the 100 & 200 metres and he was surprised to be told by Mr. Aris that he should do 400 metres instead, but he willingly complied. Stapleton then created the greatest upset at Champs '79 by beating Bertland Cameron of St. Jago High, who later turned out to be the best 400 metres athlete Jamaica has ever produced.

Mr. Aris greatest legacy is that he was amongst the outstanding group of innovators such as Foggy Burrowes and George Thompson who developed the most successful Track and Field Schoolboy Programme in the history of Jamaica during the 60s and early 70s. This programme allowed KC to win a record 14 consecutive championships from 1962 to 1976. As a matter of fact, this programme has been adapted by many other institutions with proven success. One such example is Clarendon College who won the championship in 1982 for the first time in its history when Charlie Grant defected from the KC fold and took the KC and Mr. Aris model there. Grant has since sung his Sankey and found his way back home. So it is not by chance that during Aire's tenure as President of the JAAA that Jamaica became the Track & Field capital of the world.

Presently, KCOBA is in discussion with Mr. Neville McCook in relation to a series of lectures with one of them being "The contribution of KC to the development of Track & Field in Jamaica" in which Mr. Howard Aris will feature prominently.

Madam Minister, 2012 will be the 50th year of Independence and London Olympics. Looking at Track & Field since 1962 – our year of Independence, KC would have won as many Championships as all other schools combined when we include the victory of Champs 2012. Needless to say that in the last seven (7) years Jamaica's impact on the world in Track & Field has been absolutely phenomenal.

Mr. Aris, we salute you for a job well done.

Madam Minister, what more can we do as a country to preserve such legacy? We in the KC Fraternity will always honour and preserve his rich legacy.
He ran a master leg in the relay of life, the baton is firmly placed in our hands. As true Fortis, we are duty bound to ensure that it reaches the finish line.

The brave may fall, but never yield.
May his soul rest in peace.

Fortis Forever.

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