PRESIDENT of the Jamaica Volleyball Association (JaVA), Rudolph Speid, says the success of the island’s players at the CAZOVA Under-19 Championships on the weekend is the reward of a decision to invest in the sport’s youngest.”We decided to invest heavily in youth development,” a pleased Speid told The Gleaner yesterday.The Jamaicans dethroned Barbados to take home the title, becoming the first Jamaican team to win an international indoor volleyball title.Jamaica’s female volleyballers won the regional beach volleyball title in May.”This is the best-prepared volleyball team to ever come out of Jamaica. We scouted these players five months ago. We did three weekend camps and, over the last three weeks, they have been in permanent camp,” said Speid.”We have natural athletes; we just need to harness the talent,” he added.JaVa’s VISIONThe success of the teams was part of Speid’s vision, which he and his team, that includes Tracy Findlay, Steve Davis and G.C. Foster College, embarked upon a year ago when he assumed the presidency.”They are the ones who brought out the vision of JaVA,” he said.Part of the youth investment involves the primary-school competition, the formation of parish associations – seven have been formed so far – as well as the re-launch of the adult male and female Premier Leagues.”We are decentralising the control of volleyball from the Corporate Area and spread it right across Jamaica. Some of these players are from right across Jamaica,” he said.”Our mandate was always to move volleyball from recreational to commercialise, professionalise and popularise … that’s our mantra what we are working on now, and that’s how we approach things now,” he said.He noted that volleyball is played islandwide despite its low profile, and the plan was to start a church league.”Sports administration is sport administration anywhere, and once you follow them, you get good results.”With our natural athletes, the sky is the limit,” Speid said.
The deaths struck a rueful chord in a community where auto accidents have claimed dozens of young lives. Local sheriff’s deputies frequently lecture high school students about roadway safety. The city recently opened a Youth Memorial Grove at Central Park – a ring of tree-stump sculptures, each representing a life cut short by a crash. The deaths hit hard for Arnold, who had just warned Canyon High seniors last Thursday about staying safe on the road. He said the audience included Cortez, who later let Orozco drive her car. “She made it three days beyond the lecture, and she made a bad choice,” he said. “We failed. We couldn’t get through to the one that needed to hear it most. “We have to do something – that’s obvious. (On)that part of the roadway, from Shadow Pines (Boulevard) to Sierra Highway, we’ve had a number of collisions. But we can’t be everywhere at all times. What makes it more tragic is it’s one of our children.” At Canyon High’s senior picnic Tuesday, signs of the couple’s deaths were everywhere – their names on cars and on T-shirts bearing their prom photo. Friends said Cortez was planning to study at College of the Canyons after graduation, then transfer to the University of California, Los Angeles, to study pediatrics. “When (Lissette) smiled, she would make you smile,” said Jessica Mateo, 18, a classmate. “She was my best friend.” Orozco graduated from Canyon in 2004 and divided his time between classes at the college and working at a relative’s construction company, friends said. He looked forward to attending classes with his girlfriend, and he wanted to be an architect. “When they were together, they were the funniest thing ever,” Mateo said. “They would like play-fight. They loved each other a lot.” Santa Clarita Councilman Frank Ferry, who pushed for the memorial grove project, recalled a ceremony held there last week – a reminder to teens to drive safely through graduation. “We had about 200 people there, and I had all the high school students raise their hands,” he said. “The painful thing for me was knowing, within the next two to three weeks, I’d have to attend the funeral of someone that died. “Our pledge is no more names will be added the memorial. But there is a reason we’ve left room. Ultimately, some teenagers and young adults are going to make decisions that lead to bad consequences.” email@example.com (661)257-5253160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! CANYON COUNTRY – Lissette Cortez looked forward to high school graduation this week and to a life healing children, while her boyfriend, Luis Alfredo Orozco, anticipated attending college to become an architect. But there will be no more milestones for Cortez, 18, and Orozco, 19 – their lives severed by twisted metal on Soledad Canyon Road on Monday in a car crash that injured two others. “He loved to play and had a lot of spirit,” said Maria Chavez, Orozco’s grandmother. With tears flowing, the 74-year-old from Van Nuys stood Tuesday before a makeshift memorial of candles and flowers at the site of the crash. “He was real loving. He brought joy to everybody in the family.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2Cortez and Orozco, who had dated for about three years as students at Canyon High School, were killed in a Ford Mustang that collided with a Toyota Corolla making a left turn at Rue Entree. The Mustang was split by a utility pole, and driver Orozco was thrown out of the car. “When I got here, it was already in two pieces,” said Enrique Ruiz, a family friend. “I saw (Orozco) just lying there. We kept hoping he would get up.” A third car – driven by Orozco’s friend Jesus Acosta – swerved to avoid debris and hit a tree in the center median. Both Acosta, 19, and the Corolla’s driver, Canyon High senior Carla Darmiento, 17, were treated at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital on Monday and released. Authorities initially suspected speed and racing might have been factors in the crash, but said Tuesday no criminal charges have been filed and the case remains under investigation. “This is a tragedy, and those that were killed were friends of the others that were involved,” a sheriff’s detective, Tony Arnold, said.