Redemption for JC’s Harrison - Former KC coach takes pleasure in unseating ‘Purples’ with Champs success
After leading Jamaica College (JC) to their 22nd hold on the Mortimer Geddes Trophy and their first in 10 years, Neil Harrison is relishing the moment, with the former Kingston College (KC) coach taking particular pleasure in unseating his former employers after leaving the programme at North Street in 2018 under less-than-ideal circumstances.
Harrison, who led Munro College to several top-six finishes at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships over his 17 seasons in charge there, moved to KC in 2014 but failed to deliver a title for the 'Purples' in his time at the helm, leading to strong criticism from some KC backers.
He, however, managed to lead JC to the title, with 328.5 points, at last week's championships at the National Stadium, 15.5 more than dethroned champions KC, 313, with Calabar, 241.5, St Elizabeth Technical, 181, St Jago, 129, and Edwin Allen 76 rounding out the top six.
"For me nothing happens before the time, and most time, when you are at the head coach position, fingers are pointed at you, but the whole thing was just a blaming game," Harrison told STAR Sports. "In 2017, many things happened as several top athletes got injured, and things just did not go the way they should, and I believe in destiny."
Harrison admitted that beating KC to the title made it all the more rewarding for him, given his history with the school.
"I am happy that the championship was not a Calabar-KC rivalry, but a JC-KC one, knowing that I am coming from KC as a former coach, as this makes the victory even sweeter," Harrison said.
Cannot express my joy
The coach explained that it was a tough task getting the team ready for an assault on the title.
"Words cannot express my joy in winning this title knowing about the tough situation and difficulty we had in keeping a group of boys together, who do not like restrictions, but thanks to our coaching and management staff, who all played an integral role in making this happened," said Harrison.
"In a year of uncertainty, the preparation was very tough as you have to keep changing your programme, but thanks to my training at GC Foster College for Physical Education and Sports, I was able to get back to my coaching Macro Cycle in helping with the adjustment of my programme here," he said.
Interestingly, Harrison and head coach of female champions Edwin Allen were roommates at college.
"We knew that it would have been a great challenge from Kingston College ... but my boys were prepared for this and were determined to fight to the end." he stated.
Harrison pointed to Javier Brown's record in the 400m hurdles and the show of spirit from persons like Omarion Davis, who fell on the anchor leg of the Sprint Medley relay before recovering to secure a bronze medal for the team, as major lifts for the team.
"When Javier won and broke the 400m hurdles record, that was a big lift for the team, and it was even bigger when he came back the next day and won the Class One 400m in sub-46 seconds," stated Harrison, who had a message for those downplaying the team's victory given the abbreviated nature of the championships and the COVID-19 effect on programmes.
"COVID-19 is a global thing, and everyone is experiencing this. There is a saying that if a fox can't get grapes, it say it is sour and everybody had to swim in the water, and if our boys were the only ones to stay afloat, that's great," said Harrison. "To those who are trying to belittle our victory, it is just bad-mind, jealousy, and is a sign of unsportsmanship. Some people cannot take defeat with grace."
Harrison also had a special message for a few others.
"I want to big up my wife and two children for their tremendous support," Harrison added.