By RON FANFAIR
The first few days of a new school year provides an opportunity for teachers to meet new students and establish classroom rules and goals.
Imagine veteran educator Cyril Sahadath’s consternation when he was confronted on the first two days of this semester by several Pickering High School Grade Nine students requesting to be part of the school’s track and field team.
Sahadath is the head of his school’s special education department. He is also the coach of the top track and field school team in the province.
Pickering High School created history last July, winning back-to-back Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) boys and girls titles after becoming the first school to clinch the double in 2009.
“They were at my door introducing themselves as possible candidates for our team this year even before I could settle down and get back into the groove,” Sahadath told Share just minutes after Ajax Town Council recognized the victorious teams. “It’s amazing.”
“I understand that we have a school with a rich sports tradition. But I also think that Grade Niners ought to adjust to life in high school first and focus on what they want to do academically rather than spreading themselves very thin. On the other hand, it’s really refreshing to see these kids come out and want to be part of something good that we have cultivated.”
“If you win, they will come” is an adage that Sahadath is quickly becoming familiar with.
Pickering High School has won seven boys titles in the past 19 years and the girls have captured three championships since the program was established four years ago.
Expectations, therefore, are high for a repeat.
“I never make any of those promises and I don’t pay much attention to what people expect of us,” said Trinidad & Tobago-born Sahadath, who has been with the school for the past 21 years. “Our kids tend to work very hard and they love to win. Winning a medal at OFSAA is exciting and if they are not victorious, they are dejected. Wanting to win is part of their make-up.”
Sprinter/hurdler Yazin Joseph steered the championship drive, capturing his school’s only two gold medals in the midget 100-metre hurdles and the 4 x 100-metre relay, teaming up with Kayne Winsborrow, Rakewon Grant, Shaundre Kerr-Davis, Joshua Philip and Courtney Connell.
Midget girl Nichelle Prince was brilliant, securing silver medals in the 100-metre dash, the junior 100-metre sprint relay and the 4 x 400-metre open relay and a bronze medal in the midget girls’ 200-metre race.
Most of the 40-member victorious team showed up at the brief recognition ceremony except the seniors who graduated and are on scholarships out of the province.
Five members from the championship side – hurdler Brandon Wilson and sprinters Katherine Lawrence, Rebecca Mendes, Christine Exeter and Christine Prince – are attending colleges/universities in the United States.
Ajax Mayor Steve Parish congratulated the athletes and presented plaques to them in the presence of other councillors, including Trinidad & Tobago native, Renrick Ashby.
“These young people have done themselves, their family, their school, their community and us very proud and they should be highly commended,” said Ashby. “They are special because they are now part of Ontario high schools’ sports history. We want them to know that city council is paying attention to what they are doing and we are very supportive of their efforts.”