GRANGE HILL, Westmoreland – Stephen Smith, president of the County of Cornwall Athletics Association COCAA), the organisation responsible for organising high school track and field in the county of Cornwall, including the Western Championships, agrees that students in their final year who are disadvantaged by the cancellation of the ISSA Champs due to the coronavirus pandemic, should be given an additional year in school so that they can have the opportunity to earn overseas scholarships.
Smith, who is also the coach of the Grange Hill track and field team, but has worked with throwers at other schools including St Jago High and Rusea’s High, concurs with the proposal which is being floated by Reynaldo Walcott, the track and field coach at St Elizabeth Technical.
He however, does not believe the athletes who would be over aged, should compete against the ‘legitimate athletes’, but instead, should be placed in a class of their own.
Walcott is of the opinion that given the cancellation of the annual ISSA Boys’ and Girls’ Championships and the two SAT exams set for May and June, the final year student athletes would be disadvantaged if they were not given another chance due to the current extraordinary circumstances.
The STETHS coach has based his opinion on a suggestion in the United Kingdom that final year high school students should not be forced to sit their final exams in the uncertainties created by the pandemic, but should be allowed to return if they choose to, and complete their high school education under more ideal conditions.
This week, the American NCAA organisation, that organises sports for over one thousand institutions in the US, agreed to restore the Spring Semester to final year students, after cancelling this semester’s entire sports schedule.
“We have no control over the pandemic and we all know that scholarship offers are not based on any one area, it’s both academics and performance, especially in certain high-end meets,” Walcott told the Jamaica Observer West last week.
“From my point of view, if I was the president if ISSA, I would sit with my executive and see how best we can help these student athletes who would have missed their final chance to make a big impression,” he argued.
Smith said it was incumbent that under the circumstances, the student athletes “should be given a chance to fulfill their requirements as long as their performance does not interfere with the points system and does not block those coming through from Class 2, but create an avenue to perform against each other to see how much we can help them, I believe this would be a big help to them.”
“Even if there are only a handful of them, we should give them the chance to perform as even if they get a very high score on the SAT, they would also need a good performance in the heat of Champs to create balance,” he argued.
He said while some persons would label the student athletes who would get caught in this situation as “a time waster,” he argued that people develop at different levels and at different rates.
“As an administrator, parent and also a teacher, one of the things we learn at college was that students and people in general have different levels of intelligence which we refer to as multi- intelligence. People are inclined to learn differently, some kinetically or linguistically, people are made up in that way and the schools should cater for them, and find out how do we help them,” he argued.
He pointed out that different situations could also lead to how people learn.
“People are from different backgrounds, some poor, some rich, some have attentive parents, some do not, some prone to injuries while others have many different issues that hold them back, but we must give everyone the chance to get their best,” he stressed.
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