KINGSTON – Pat Henry, head coach of the Texas A&M University Athletic department, has suggested that it is better for Jamaica’s best athletes to stay home and develop their talent.
The university has aided the development of a number of Jamaicans over the years, including Olympians Simone Facey, Chris Pinnock, Howard Davis and Richard Bucknor.
However, with Jamaican-based clubs MVP and Racers churning out world-class athletes Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Kaliese Spencer, Melaine Waker, Asafa Powell and Warren Weir, Henry thinks it’s now best for the island’s top prospects to stay and train at home.
“The great ones probably should stay at home; those that are really at the top of the game should stay in Jamaica and continue their development there,” Henry said to the Jamaican media.
He added: “I think though that the collegiate system in the US has a lot to offer for a lot of other athletes from that region who are not at the top of the game. It offers a great opportunity for a lot of developing athletes to come over and continue their development for a few more years and you see those athletes come back and do even better,” Henry stated.
The 61-year-old, who started his coaching career in 1983 with Blinn College, has won national titles at Louisiana State University (LSU) before moving to Texas A&M, where he has won six national outdoor titles; three for both the male and female programmes.
“Before this I was the coach at LSU and even from back then we have always had very good athletes from Jamaica; from Claston Bernard and I could go on and on. We have had all kinds of excellent Jamaican athletes. They are always very competitive and Caribbean athletes in general,” Henry added.
Henry described the recruitment of athletes as a difficult process.
“Recruiting is difficult, no matter where it is, to be honest. No matter if you are recruiting a kid out of New Jersey or a kid out of Jamaica, it’s about ensuring the person sees that the environment as conducive to what they want to do both academically and athletically. You have to make those two things mesh and mix together for the athlete to be attracted to your institution. I think if you’re way too much on either side then I think you are going to have some issues.”†