31 October - November 2017 | VOICES Bi-Monthly Magazine of the University of Technology, Jamaica Beckford: What would you say have been some of your challenges and some of your greatest achievements as Track and Field Coach at UTech, Ja.? Francis: Well the challenges we have at UTech are numerous…equipment challenges, challenges with preparation of the field, etc., but I am not a person who complains much or uses those kinds of things as excuses for failure or lack of performance, because I believe in working around problems, finding different ways of doing things and fortunately we have been able to work around most of the roadblocks that we have encountered at UTech. And in times of extreme blockage, we have usually been able to turn to the President of the institution…from Dr. Rae Davis, to Prof. Morrison to Professor Vasciannie. They have all been very cooperative and inspired and want the sports programme to do well. Beckford: So it is evident that the challenges have not been insurmountable given the success of the MVP Track and Field Club and the UTech Track and Field programme. What would you say have been some of your greatest moments on that journey since 2002 at UTech, Ja.? Francis: Probably the most significant for me as UTech Coach was when in 2003 we had for the first time, three College/University students – Asafa Powell, Germaine Mason and Ainsley Waugh who made the team to the World Championship in Paris. It was shortly after we had started and even though we didn’t do as well as we would have hoped, it was still a proud moment and I think it was the start of a trend where we had quite a number of our athletes performing very well on the senior and national teams. It began a trend where we probably at some point had more people from UTech on the national team than the other big universities. At one point in Beijing, there were 24 athletes from UTech who were part of the national team. Another big point was when we won for the first time, an event at the Penn Relays. I think in 2003 when we won the 4 x 2 Championship of America for males. I think since that time we have won maybe 15 times and UTech has been the best performers in that time along with LSU and Texas, A&M – two of the biggest universities in the USA. These are some of the moments which have given some amount of satisfaction. The kind of work that the coaching staff and athletes put in has paid off in a good way. In closing, Coach Francis affirmed that “I believe the new UTech President is supportive and the systems at the School seem to be getting better,” adding that “hopefully certain things will be a lot better.” Referencing UTech, Jamaica as local University of choice for athletes, he noted that “as long as we continue to work hard at what we are doing and the athletes continue to find UTech to be a good alternative to come to further their career and education, then I think we should continue to do well.” Athletes in training at the back field, UTech, Jamaica Papine Campus 1. Athletes go through a fitness test under Coach Paul Francis’ directions, while assistant coach, Kingsley Rose looks on. Athletes from left are Rakeem Elliott, Xavier Blackwood, Glenmore Biggs and O’Dayne Richards. 2. Olympian Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce goes through the paces of her training under the watchful eye of coach Paul Francis. 3. Coaches Stephen Francis, OD (left) and Paul Francis talk with student athletes, from left, Anna Scott, Janelle Bromfield and Anthonique Strachan. 1 2 3 A Conversation with Coach Stephen Francis... cont’d from page 30