Excelsior needs help for cricket program
October 2, 2019
Just before entering Excelsior High School playfield from the main entrance, clearly visible is a bright yellow sign with the names of the perimeter fence donors.
Listed is the Past Students Association Toronto chapter whose members can be proud of the school’s cricket accomplishments.
Since 2012, Excelsior has captured 14 championships, including three All-Island and five at the Under-14 level.
Talented all-rounder Brandon English and left-handed opener Kirk McKenzie are the face of the successful program while right-handed batsman Raewin Senior, who represented Jamaica at the youth level, left his mark before enrolling at the University of the West Indies.
English, whose favourite cricketer is Australian opener David Warner ‘because of his fearlessness’, expects to play for the West Indies.
“I am putting in all the hard work and learning as much as I can because I want to be the best,” said the Grade 11 student.
Despite the school’s overwhelming success, coach Kirkland Bailey has concerns.
Retired West Indian fast bowlers Courtney Walsh and Patrick Patterson along with Chris Gayle are Excelsior graduates.
Bailey, who also completed high school at Excelsior, feels some of the former players can do more to assist the cricket program.
“We haven’t been lucky when it comes to consistent contributions or donations,” said the school’s Under-19 head coach for the last 19 years. “We have got a little during my time, but nothing significant in the last five to six years which has been the cricket program’s best years.”
Three years ago, the Tallawahs -- which represent Jamaica in the Caribbean Premier League -- visited the school.
“That was the only time we have benefitted from them,” said Bailey who is also a resident teacher and member of the Klas sports radio commentary team for the Tallawahs five homes games last month. “Again, there has been nothing consistent.”
High on his wish list is a change room.
“It’s very embarrassing when you see what we have here,” Bailey said. “We are asking our youths to give of themselves, but we have to give them something tangible in return to show them we appreciate why they stay back in the afternoons, why we train on Saturdays and why we do a two-day camp just before Christmas. If you are grading the school’s sports teams, we are at the top when it comes to performance, yet the other sports seem to be getting more from their past students. I hope a voice in the wilderness will answer our call for a new facility.”
The Excelsior High School Past Students Toronto chapter sponsors a breakfast program and last December, two students and a teacher came to the city for the annual brunch to talk about the benefits of a school breakfast.
Thomas ‘Mello’ Melvin said Toronto alumnus are always open to ways in which they can assist their alma mater.
“Many of us benefitted greatly from attending Excelsior and we would love to help the school in any way we can,” added Melvin who migrated to Canada in 1967, five years after leaving Excelsior.
The co-educational high school, whose notable alumnus also include Louise Bennett-Coverley (Miss Lou) who spent the last 20 years of her life in the Greater Toronto Area before passing away in 2006 at age 86, was founded in 1931 by visionary educator Aston Wesley Powell.