Sat | Sep 23, 2023

Hector hailed as mentor to young coaches

Published:Friday | February 17, 2023 | 12:21 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Edward Hector. File
Edward Hector. File

Just as the local track and field fraternity was coming to terms with the passing on Saturday of St Elizabeth Technical High (STETHS) legend Eldemire Smith, another well-known coach has died. This time, it’s Edward Hector, the former vice principal and track coach at Holmwood Technical High.

Hector brought Holmwood into the fast lane with distinguished work, especially in the middle-distance disciplines and after his retirement, he continued to play a role as an adviser at STETHS and as a mentor to young coaches. One of them is Jamaica College middle-distance maestro Duane Johnson. “Big, big, big loss,” Johnson lamented hours after the news of Hector’s passing broke.

The first contact came after a solid performance by Johnson’s Jamaica College troops at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships in 2021.

“I remember Champs 2021 vividly. I would have gotten my first message from Mr Hector, just to reach out to me and tell me how proud he was to see the performances of my charges, and he’s looking forward to my work in coming years and, you know, just giving encouragement, advice,” Johnson recounted.

The JC coach said Hector’s counsel has helped him through times when he was discouraged.

“We would have exchanged numbers, and from time to time he would call and check in with me and just give some sound advice, you know. Even in times when I get discouraged,” he recounted, “he is that person that will give me a little nudge and say, hey, shake that off and let’s go. Keep it going.”

Hector and Smith had much in common, as track coaches, teachers of mathematics and having both risen to the office of vice principal at Holmwood and STETHS, respectively. It’s little wonder that Smith also encouraged Johnson when they met last year at Boys and Girls’ Championships.

“In fact, last year, at Champs, Eldemire Smith would have called me over and that would have been the first time I would have had a conversation with him face to face, where he was also giving me a pat on the back, saying ‘you know, I’m probably on my way out, so I appreciate what you’re doing at JC and keep up the good work’, “ Johnson said.

Emotionally distressed, Johnson concluded, “You know, so it’s really sad that we have lost two stalwarts in the fraternity and I’m just lost for words.”

At Holmwood, Hector directed his boys to Penn Relays victories in the 4x100m, 4x400m and 4x800m. In addition, he served his country as a member of coaching teams to the World Under-20 Championships, the World Championships and the Olympic Games.

His stable of notables included Jermaine Myers, who ran one minutes 48.89 seconds while at Holmwood, Ryan Butler, Rodney Henry, Kirk Wint and Davian Parker.

Hector died of cardiac arrest early yesterday morning.