May 2019 Volume 15

Champs and the struggle of waiting

Gerald Hector
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“Have you ever wonder why God gave you an assignment that you see as too BIG? It is probably because He has invested in you in a BIG way.” —Pastor Nathaniel Wright.

This statement was made in the context of a sermon this morning entitled “The Struggle of Waiting.” As I sat there listening to the sermon, fresh off last night Champs victory, I replayed in my mind the academic/athletic year that my alma mater Kingston College is currently experiencing. Although it is a metaphorical representation, there is a message in all of this.

This great institution, founded by Bishop Perceval Gibson was created for the “poor man” who was not welcomed by other established institutions of higher learning in Jamaica. He realized that they too needed a quality education. At its core, our founding ethos was predicated upon providing opportunities for the “least of these.” I believe those opportunities were academics, spirituality, athletics and extracurricular activities, and a sense of belonging and pride. It was our charge. It was our mission.

Having gone through those hallowed halls in the eighties, where I was fortunate to briefly be in the presence JAH Ramsey, Helen Douglas, Maureen Lewis, Bryan Bruce, Ivan Johnson, Douglas Forrest and Woodburn Miller, and countless others, while being coached in sports by Roy McClean, George Thompson, Gladstone Neill, and Mauricio Ventura Sr, this year of 2019 seems to be a rebirth, or a reengagement with our original charge.

Since the eighties, success in both athletics and academics (all spheres for that matter) have come in fits and starts, and there was a general sense that we have been underachieving. The “elders” who sacrificed so much prior were not pleased. Could it be that we took our eyes off the ball? Did we lose the focus necessary for us to carry out Bishop Gibson’s mandate? Is it that the vision became inwardly focused rather than being externally impactful? Could a major contributing factor be that the Old Boys were seen as the main constituency to satisfy rather than the future Fortisans who were yet to encounter the transformative life experiences afforded by Kingston College? Was there an inherent tension there? Were we clamoring for acceptance in our wider society that we became a square peg in a round hole, taking on a mandate that was not uniquely ours? Is it that we wanted to be accepted so bad that maybe one can argue we got away from taking care of the “least of these?”

Regardless of the underlying reason, and there can be many, few would argue that the swagger of old that created both admirers and haters over our ninety-four-year history was gone. We stopped exuding that quiet confidence that drove fear and awe at the same time in our observers and competitors when we entered and occupied any space. Could it be that we started believing our own hype and lost our way? Did we try to wear a mantle that was not a “hand in glove” fit, but we forced it anyway? These are just some questions.

Over the past several years we have been knocking on the door of success only to be disappointed year after year. We were struggling while we waited. Infighting and “arm chair” coaches’ and administrators’ voices were heard louder than the people who were officially tasked with, and trying to refocus and rebuild the foundations on which our greatness stood in years past. We were struggling while we waited. We have some of the most active Old Boys Associations around the globe, but we did not have a cohesive platform around which we could all coalesce and maximize results. We were struggling while we waited. A relatively young school, when compared to our peers, Kingston College’s greatness is undergirded by a vision that is bigger than any one constituent. It is that same collective vision/ethos that binds us together, both home in Jamaica and abroad. Bishop Gibson had a vision, and God invested in a BIG way in that vision. We have ninety-four years of evidence to show for it. However, that vision over time was usurped by a bunch of ideas, and we all know that ideas come and go, but vision requires sacrifice.

Over the last several years we have witnessed the tremendous sacrifice of so many to make this year’s run of success a reality. In returning to that posture of servant leadership, we are seeing that return to our original founding mandate to take care of the “least of these.” With that return to our original mandate, we are reaping success. Those sacrifices have now pivoted the institution into a position where there is a BIG assignment. An assignment that suggests that we not only live up to our original mandate, but one that suggests Kingston College leads a renaissance in the diversity of thought (both internally and externally) that willl continually lift the “least of these” to higher heights of greatness, relevance and impact, both nationally and internationally. That might very well be the BIG assignment for the Fortis Nation in this day and time. It is very difficult to think BIG when small has us, but our youngsters today are showing us the possibilities. I don’t think Project 32, winning Manning Cup after 32 years by a score of 3-2 is mere coincidence. I am not hung up on the numerology aspect, I am focused on the victories as a step out of the wilderness after a long period of waiting. I for one am the eternal optimist, and I clearly understand that BIG vision drives BIG innovation, and BIG innovation drives BIG change. In the end BIG change will keep us all learning and creating at our growing edge. Creating new ways to deliver educational content. Creating new ways to ensure that the current Fortisans matriculating those hallowed halls have a head start on the rest of their lives. Creating new ways to impact the communities around the campuses. Becoming one with our neighbors, and creating opportunities for those communities to learn alongside our students. Creating feeder programs for creativity and innovation that will impact Jamaica and the world. Pie in Sky? No. Just an alternate vision.

Call me naive, but I believe the walking and waiting in the wilderness was designed to refocus Kingston College on why it was founded, and with a number of victories noted in this past year (2018/2019) both in athletics and academics, it is great to party for a little while, but the energy being generated should be channeled to lift the institution to the greater heights envisioned by Bishop Percival Gibson. It won’t be easy, but I believe the foundation has been restored, and we can now push/launch into the “what’s next” in creating the future leaders and social entrepreneurs the world has yet to see. God has invested BIG in Kingston College, the returns should be equally as BIG.

We have a principal and a leadership team that have done yeoman’s work in getting the institution to be here at this pivotal moment. We have teachers and other faculty who are committed to the task at hand. We have coaches and volunteers who love the institution beyond measure, and are die hard fans of anything purple and white. It is now up to us as the family and friends of Kingston College to pull alongside these dedicated individuals to push Bishop Gibson’s vision to the next level.

Although I live off “The Rock”, it is not hard to see that something special is occurring at Elleston Road and North Street. I am challenging myself to see how I can get reengaged in real and tangible ways to support this transformation with my time, talent and treasure. A recommitment to the Old Boys Association for me seems to be the best vehicle. It is in moments like these I rue not living on “The Rock” where I can drive by after work and watch either football, track or cricket practice. Engage with the student leaders, or simply encourage a young man to sacrifice five or seven years of their lives for the rest of their lives. Despite that distance, there are a myriad of ways to participate. The time for excuses is at an end. Kingston College has left an indelible mark on all its former students’ lives, and it is only fitting that we properly sow into a vision that was cast in 1925 that still holds strong to this day.

There is an old expression that says, “We often chase moments, and there are times moments come find us.” I believe we have been found by several moments, are we truly need to embrace them and rise to the occasion.

Peace and Blessings.

Fortis for Life!!!!!!!

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