By Stephen Cook
When Caniggia Raynor says that his friends and teammates are like family, he means it in a way that many athletes can’t relate to. Most of Raynor’s family lives more than 1,800 miles away on the island of Jamaica.
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Raynor, sophomore track athlete, grew up in Greater Portmore, Jamaica and first started throwing discus when he was 16. After he graduated he was looking for offers to throw for a post-secondary institution, but didn’t receive any that were suitable. Eventually head track coach Phil Groves asked him to throw for JCCC.
Now Raynor is nationally ranked, currently holding first place in the NJCCA indoor weight throw. Before coming to the college, Raynor had never even thrown the hammer or weight before.
“I think Caniggia’s biggest success is just he committed wholeheartedly to achieving excellence,” Groves said.
Groves, who works with Raynor, said that he has been recruiting international athletes as long as he’s been a coach. He first heard about Raynor from an athlete he coached while at UMKC.
Raynor came to the college two years ago, in the fall of 2011. He said that although his first semester was rough, the second was better and this year has been fantastic. His friends and prayer have helped him stay encouraged.
“The main thing is, I always have this urge, always trying to be successful in anything I do,” Raynor said. “I think this college experience, where I’m in right now, [has] kind of given me a better view of life.”
In addition to his persistence, Groves believes Raynor’s personal and international background makes him push a little harder.
“Let’s just say, a typical American athlete: you come here, you flunk out or whatever it may be, you don’t do well and you end […] at home living in Mom and Dad’s basement,” Groves said. “A lot of times these international guys, they have a little bit more to lose, and so they’re willing to really commit and work a little bit harder.”
After nationally qualifying for indoor shot and weight, Raynor said he received an offer to throw for another school, but decided to stay at the college for a second year.
Hayes Grissom, who throws javelin for the college, has known Raynor for two years, but he says it was this year that he has really become good friends with him. Grissom described Raynor as being “distinctly Caniggia”.
“He walks all loud and proud, he walks with his chest all puffed out and he’s proud of who he is and the way he talks to people, you can tell,” Grissom said. “It’s not that he thinks he’s better than them, but he’s just really confident with himself.”
Grissom said he sees Raynor as his other half. Since Grissom throws javelin and Raynor throws shot put, discus and hammer, the two of them have all of the throwing events covered. Grissom, who was national runner-up in javelin, said he keeps encouraging Raynor to do well so that their track team can be national champions in all of the throwing events.
This season at an indoor track meet, Raynor scored 19.11 meters in the weight throw. According to Raynor, that throw has opened a lot of doors. Additionally, he recently broke both a fieldhouse and a school record in the event.
Looking towards the future, Raynor has his expectations set high.
“My main goal, to be honest, is trying to get that Senior Olympic Games or a world championship,” Raynor said. “I really wish to be one of those things one of these days.”
Contact Stephen Cook, copy editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.