The Juega Como Campeon bilingual sports academy, is a non profit
organization focused on expanding life opportunities for
disadvantaged boys and girls in the Dominican Republic through
programs in sports, Math, English & character-building. The kids
come primarily to play sports and have fun, but our programs focus
on three (3) areas of growth: athletics, education, and character.
Athletic Growth - Fun, engaging sports programs
that develop skills
Academic Support - Support in both English and
Math to expand life opportunities
Character & Community Building - Shared
requirements, including keeping our facility and fields clean, and
community service, to promote a strong work ethic, positive
self-esteem, discipline, and a sense of community
At JCC, we'll use sports to help kids rather than allowing sports
use them. JCC will be a place where teaching never stops and where
our team dedicates ourselves to helping disadvantaged kids to reach
their potential and to view new opportunities, some that do not
currently exist here.
The mission of Juega Como Campeon is to cultivate, expand
opportunities and improve the lives of disadvantaged, economically
underprivileged children in the Dominican Republic, by providing
opportunities to participate in youth sports, in conjunction with
academic support to which they would otherwise not have access. We
will strive to promote confidence, self-respect, respect for others
and a sense of community service, developing young boys and girls in
every sense, while fostering their hopefulness for a better future.
Chris Travers has been in the "kid business" since 1991 having got
his start at
Maryville Academy in Illinois
counseling behaviorally challenged and abused youth. He worked there
for 6 years until making the jump to classroom teaching in 1998
(math) and coaching football, basketball, tennis and baseball to JV
and Varsity teams to the Chicago, Boston, West Palm Beach and Latin
America (Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and the Dominican Republic)
youth of middle and high school ages.
His projects include several stints at high level basketball camps -
including running his own - as well as a few months in Argentina
teaching tennis to aspiring professionals, being an offensive
coordinator in Varsity football and private classes in golf and
tennis. Interspersed in his pursuits are some entrepreneurial
pursuits in textiles and creative video production, to varying
degrees of success (and failure).
His trademarks with kids are running a vibrant classroom, an intense
and a dynamic practice rife with unexpected forehead smacks (both to
and fro) as well as creative tournaments that vary and restrict the
rules to increase long term performance while increasing the
quantity of fun.
Chris, who also enjoys kitesurfing, playing golf, snowboarding and
watching college football on Fall Saturdays - particularly those in
gold helmets in Northern Indiana - has been in the Dominican
Republic for five years and hopes to make his home here with Juega
In the summer of 2008, Chris Travers, an avid kitesurfer, came to
Cabarete for a two week vacation. During a chance meeting, he was
offered a teaching job at an international school there. He returned
to Florida where he was the Head Coach at Cardinal Newman High
School, but after some consternation, decided to go to the Dominican
Republic on a one year contract, hoping to take a breather from the
24/7/365 grind of competitive basketball coaching.
The first weekend there while biking around town, he spotted a
baseball practice on a Saturday morning. On one field, three games
were taking place: one at home plate, another in left field and a
third in right field. About half the players were playing barefoot.
Unable to resist his urge to coach, he volunteered with the local
head coach to assist him with his infielders.
After getting to know the players more intimately, it was hard to
ignore their educational deficiencies and he realized that his
non-native written Spanish was much higher functioning than that of
the teenagers. Many of the kids also expressed to him that they were
all in: it was major leagues or bust. They had little to no
understanding of the many in-between places to which their baseball
skills could help propel them.
A place was needed to where kids could be taught English and
mathematics to supplement their low-standard public education system
of ½ days and overflowing classrooms. Such a place could provide
economically disadvantaged youth with high level athletic training,
while obligating them to study English and Mathematics, A place like
that could significantly improve their opportunities upon entering
Hence, the idea of Juega Como Campeon (JCC) was born.
While JCC will not cater to baseball players being that the country
is filled with scouts, coaches, academies, agents etc… it will be a
facility that focuses on other primary sports, especially ones that
do not exist here for lesser means children such as golf, tennis and
Juega Como Campeon (JCC) provides engaging sports programs, in
conjunction with academic support in english and math, for
disadvantaged boys and girls.
JCC is based on baiting children into fun learning. Obviously we
understand that the kids will come primarily to play sports and have
fun. But before they are allowed to enter practice - which will be
basketball, they are required to do what we call their 5-10-15:
Deposit 5 pesos to pay for the ice water at
practice (10 cents in USA currency).
Pick up 10 pieces of plastic or paper trash at
Listen and converse in English with one of our bilingual
When those three things are complete, they are allowed to enter
practice and join in on the fun which we hope to create in a
structured yet dynamic way in order to keep them coming back. Kids
are allowed to enter practice at any time (upon completing 5-10-15),
yet are not permitted to leave unless they are leaving for the day.
In sum, they are not allowed to come and go as they please on that
Additional Academic Support
Also, in regards to the English classes, we have a
Youtube channel for the
kids to view the lessons of which there are 24 videos consisting of
10-15 minutes in length for each. The accompanying book is 60 pages
and costs about $1.75 to print them a copy. They can view the
classes in their free time. Recommended: 1 video class per week
viewed twice to deepen understanding, while also completing
corresponding homework assignments for each lesson.
In the near future, we will be building a library of videos,
particularly in mathematics as supplements to the English program.
The idea is to augment their education as well as prepare any
possible scholarship candidates for the SAT exam. We understand that
this will likely be a select few, but better to prepare all of them
for this, and in the meantime, all will benefit from Math in