All week long Kevin Facey has taken such special care to set his starting block properly during practice sessions at the Reggie Lewis Center, that the image of a starting block has even been seared into his dreams.
“I’m working on them so hard, I’m pretty much good with them,” said the Burke senior, who slipped out of the blocks during the finals of the 55-meter dash in the Division 4 state meet last Friday yet still managed to finish second.
Facey, who finished first in the preliminaries early in the day with a time of 6.65 seconds, was one-tenth of a second out of first place in the final with a time of 6.73 — which qualified him for Saturday’s All-States meet back at the Reggie Lewis Center.
The Jamaican immigrant will be the No. 13 seed in the 55-meter dash.
“It was really difficult because I didn’t know how to set the blocks,” he said. “I usually watch the Olympics and see how they set the starting blocks and just following and do the same thing but I didn’t really know how to use them because I wasn’t used to them.”
Burke doesn’t have any blocks to use during practices, which are held in the hallways of the school. Facey also spent most of the year running the 300-meter dash.
The 18-year-old said the fact that he still came in second place at the Division 4 meet despite his bad start was a huge confidence boost, especially since he was in last place out of the blocks.
“I was just like ‘it doesn’t matter if I’m last if l put my mind to,’ if I start last I know I’m not going to come in last place,” he said. “I kept my head forward, paid attention, looked right at the finish line and kept running. I could have given up and said ‘Oh that’s a bad start but I kept going.”
Now Facey hopes performances like that one earn him a name in the local track community. His dream is to run professionally so his mother doesn’t have to keep working in a nursing home.
“My mom did a lot for me and I want to show her that I can pay her back for everything she did growing up,” he said. “I want to show her I can pay her back for everything.”
Facey moved to Dorchester two years after his mother moved here so she could find a job and earn enough money to send for him.
“I was really a momma’s boy so I used to cry, my mom used to be there for me,” he said when asked how difficult it was to live apart from his mother. “I used to go everywhere with her and stuff. I used to cry when I saw kids with their mom having fun with their moms and stuff.
“When I came [here], when I saw her, I was like speechless.”
That was four years ago, during his freshman year in high school.
Before that, he ran track and played cricket in Kingston but his school also didn’t have starting blocks for the track team to practice with.
When he arrived in the United States he was interested in football, but his mother pushed him to run track.
He did well enough his first two seasons and finally qualified for states last spring. But he and his coach arrived at the meet as the race was starting and he was unable to run.
He also made strides in the classroom, improving his GPA from a 1.89 last year to a 2.58 this year with the help of the Boston Scholar Athlete program.
“He digs deep, I give him credit because even when he started his grades were not good, he was barely passing classes and this semester he made the honor roll,” said Burke's first-year track coach Bjorn Bruckshaw. “If someone shows a little care and effort in him he goes a long way.”
That’s exactly what has happened this winter. Bruckshaw is a wounded combat veteran without a background in coaching track but he wanted to give back. Despite his coaches limited experience, Facey managed to qualify for states.
And this time around he not only made it on time to the state meet, his mother also attended the meet as well.
“My mom came to watch me so I was so nervous,” he said. “I wanted to show her how I’m improving. When I came first [in the preliminary race] she was happy. That really made me smile.”
Coming out of the blocks strong on Saturday will not only put a smile on his mother’s face but it will also help Facey make his dreams come true.
“I dream about them and I practice too,” he said of the starting blocks. “Anything I want I dream about it. I dream about it and see how I did it so I can’t forget it.”
About Boston Public Schools Sports BlogMore »
- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.