Renoy Butler and Gavin Shand have been giving their service mainly as athletics coaches – without pay – at Lluidas Vale Primary School in St Catherine for seven consecutive years.
“I didn’t know I would be doing this for so long,” Shand told The Beacon, adding that the constant emergence of new talent keeps him going.
“Every year I see another athlete coming up, so I try to put in the work and time to develop them. Probably that next athlete is the next star coming from the primary school,” added the resident of Lluidas Vale, hometown for two of the island’s best student athletes – Christopher Taylor and Cherokee Young.
Some of the athletes, Shand disclosed, have been medalling at various competitions across the island.
In the highly competitive Insports Primary School Championship held in Kingston last month, for example, two students medalled.
Andriana Comrie won silver and Taniesha Williams copped bronze in the 400 Metres. Their feats have caught the eyes of about seven high schools, which have offered them scholarships.
“They are the best 200 and 400-Metre athletes we have had on the girl side in the seven years [of the training programme],” Shand said.
He further stated that the athletes generally do well although he is unable to volunteer enough coaching time – mainly due to work.
Shand has been working full time for 14 years as a fermentation operator at Rum Bar distillery, located on the Worthy Park Sugar Estate in Lluidas Vale. He also is a member of the Jamaica masters athletics team, which sometimes represents the island at various meets overseas.
The other volunteer, Butler, has been a Jamaica Defence Force soldier since 2014 – two years after he conceptualized and commenced the training programme.
His army duties make it difficult for him to actively participate in the programme as a coach, but he now offers mainly administrative support. He also helps with fundraising to offset costs associated with having the students participate in various events.
“Volunteering is very important to me, especially because athletics is something I love,” Butler told The Beacon.
“I am past student of Lluidas Vale Primary School, and it’s just my way of giving back to my community and my school.”
Butler expressed gratitude that, although he is no longer physically around to help with coaching, Shand, who commenced the mission with him, has continued to help in nurturing the next generation of Jamaican athletes.
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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