April 2020 Volume 16

Interview with Kingston College Track & Field Legend – Dr. Noel Gray

Dr. Cedric Lazarus
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As we start the 2020 track and field season Dr. Cedric Lazarus in Toronto will be doing a series of interviews with outstanding KC athletes of the past. The first athlete he interviewed was the Florida based Dr. Noel Gray who as a teenager at KC in the 70s simply refused to be beaten at any distance from the 200m to the 800m across all classes. He was equally as dominant at Champs during that period and he is considered by many as one of the most outstanding KC athletes of all eras.

CL : Noel, I believe that your younger brother Ronald was already at KC when you arrived in 1970. Tell us how you ended up at KC.

NG : I transferred to KC from Vauxhall on a track scholarship in 1970. My brother Ronald was already in second form then.

CL : When did you realize that you had the athletic talent?

NG : When I was around 9 years old at Windward Road Primary.

CL: Your younger brothers Ronald and Kenneth were both athletes at KC. Is there an athletic gene in the Gray family?

NG : So it seems. After leaving KC, Kenneth, aka Sunny, also attended University of Florida (UF) on an athletic scholarship. I was fortunate to be the one who recruited and signed him to UF. Our sister Jasmine competed in track and field and netball for Excelsior in the late 1970s. Kenneth in fact represented Jamaica in the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 where he ran the 400m hurdles.

CL: What are your best KC Sports Day memories? And which house were you in?

NG : My first Sports Day at KC was the most sentimental because I was in awe of the KC mystique. I was in Nuttall House. The duels between Charles Headlam and me in 1973 are memorable.

CL: Who were your biggest rivals at KC?

NG : Charlie Headlam - without a doubt.

CL : Yes, I recall that people came in their hundreds to see Gray vs. Headlam on Sports Day. How did you maintain your focus with those massive crowds and with people so close to the track at North Street?

NG : In retrospect, those are some of the most memorable and cherished times in my life to this day. The crowd energized me or us to perform at our best. What kept me focused, and somewhat humble, was the fact that winning at KC was par for the course. Because of this winning mentality at KC, even if you were a winner at Champs in previous years, you were in fear of being upstaged by a teammate at any given time.

CL: What was your pet event at KC?

NG : The 400m was my pet event, but deep down I preferred the 200m.

CL: Do you remember your times in these events in your last year at Champs?

NG : 200m (21.6); 400m (47.4, broke TC’s record); 800 (1.53.4 metric record).

CL : Who were your biggest rivals at Champs?

NG : Again my teammate Charlie Headlam and maybe Danny Brown from Camperdown. Jeff McLeod for Cornwall College was also a big rival.

CL : What were your favourite subjects at KC?

NG : Mathematics and physics.

CL : Favourite teacher?

NG : Peter Maxwell who taught English Language and Literature

CL : Favourite coach?

NG : Rupert Hoilette and Howard Aris.

CL: You once told me that you pushed yourself beyond the training program that your coaches had for you. Why was that?

NG : My biggest disappointment at the time was not making the team to the CARIFTA Games in 1972 partly due to injuries. It was not a good feeling to know that all your fellow track buddies travelled to Barbados without you. From that point on I promised myself that I would outwork everybody to be the best; it all paid off. In Trinidad, where the 1973 games were held, I established the 400m record of 46.8 that stood for almost 10 years.

CL: On leaving KC you got a track scholarship to the University of Florida. How did you adapt to life in your first year at university?

NG : For track it was a seamless transition; for academics it took some time.

CL: How did you balance academics and athletics in university?

NG : I had a lot of encouragement from my family, especially my mother.

CL : Did you represent Jamaica while in university?

NG : Yes, I went to the Pan American games in Mexico in 1975 and to several Central America and Caribbean Games.

CL: What is your fondest memory of university?

NG : Completing my degree while balancing athletics and a rigorous academic program.

CL: What was your major in university?

NG : Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering (1978, University of Florida); Master of Science in Mathematics Education (Nova Southeastern University (NSU), 1995), and a Doctor of Educational Leadership (Florida Atlantic University, 2000).

CL : What did you do after graduation?

NG: I taught mathematics for 35 years at the Miami-Dade County Public School and I was also department chair for many years. For over 20 years I have been Adjunct Faculty Adviser at Nova Southeastern University.

CL: Now that you are retired from the class-room how do you spend your time?

NG : I still work with NSU but I now spend a lot of time golfing, travelling and doing some real estate sales.

CL : What advice would you give student-athletes at KC today?

NG : Use athletics as a means to achieve a good education.

CL : If you could start over what would you have done differently?

NG : Nothing really. My only regret was not being able to compete at the Olympics.

CL : Thanks a lot Noel.

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