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
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
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 Como Campeon.
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 adulthood.
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 football.
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
Deposit 5 pesos to pay for the ice water at practice (10 cents in USA
- Pick up 10 pieces of plastic or paper trash at the facility.
Listen and converse in English with one of our bilingual volunteers for
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 same day.
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
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 English.