The ladies of Excelsior High School have created quite some rave in the ISSA Schoolgirls Football Competition this season thanks to the work of ace coach Xavier Gilbert, who has steered the school to 15 finals and seven trophies. Excelsior are once again, for the third successive year, champions of local girls football after defeating Denham Town 4-1 in the final last Friday at the Spanish Town Prison Oval. Gilbert must be proud of his troops as Excelsior High dominated the competition, scoring a staggering 236 goals in only 15 games. Standout players Christina Salmon netted 59 times in 15 games while Davia Richards contributed 53. For Gilbert, the formula for success is the continuous football programme in which his players are engaged. Most of Excelsior’s footballers are part of the National Women’s League, playing for Waterhouse or Cavalier FC. They also hone their skills at the national level, with Davia Richards leading the U-16 team while Salmon plays with the U-17s. Captain Tarania Clarke played with the senior Reggae Girlz against Nottingham Forrest last October. Gilbert also credits support from the team’s main sponsor, Noel Chang of ABC Electrical and Sales, who provides much-needed financial support. But winning is not new to the ladies of the yellow and green clan from Mountain View Avenue. Excelsior has seen a resurgence in high school netball as well, thanks to the work of Marva Bernard over the last three seasons. They are reigning champions of the AFNA Caribbean High School Netball Championship and back-to-back all-island netball champs in 2017 and 2018. Over in track and field, young Ackera Nugent keeps coach David Riley proud with her world best in the U-18 100m hurdles of 12.89m set at the Youngster Goldsmith Classic in February. Nugent is also a model student whose bags, I am told, were overweight on her trip to the Penn Relays as she carried along her books for studying. Truly the perfect model of a student-athlete. But the school, founded in 1931 in Campbell Town, is also the toast in boys’ senior hockey and all-island senior cricket. Cricket team successes are thanks to Cleveland Bailey, who accounts for two West Indies U-19 players in Raewin Senior and Kirk McKenzie. Over on the track, the boys’ Class One 4x400m team also won at Champs this year for the first time since 1968. The school’s long tradition of sporting excellence seems to be in excellent hands, and so we look forward to the school contributing further at the national level. Excelsior’s alumni read like an all-star list at the national level and includes the likes of Courtney Walsh, Chris Gayle, Gregory Haughton, Walter Boyd, Simone Forbes, and Shavar Thomas, to name a few. Excelsior holds the distinction of being the only school to have four former national captains in Simone Forbes (Sunshine Girls), Shavar Thomas (Reggae Boyz), Chris Gayle, and Courtney Walsh (West Indies). Winning isn’t everything, but it’s usually an indication of hard work, planning, and a tradition of success that fuels further achievement. Age Animo. Excelsior. Do it with thy might. One love!