Juega Como Campeon

Bilingual Sports Academy

Athletics | Education | Character | Growth

JCC expands life opportunities for disadvantaged Dominican Republic children through programs in Sports, Math & English and Character-building.

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About


JCC Overview

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.

Mission Statement

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.

Director

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.

Story

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.

Our Program

Juega Como Campeon (JCC) provides engaging sports programs, in conjunction with academic support in english and math, for disadvantaged boys and girls.

Program Details

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 the facility.
  • Listen and converse in English with one of our bilingual volunteers for 15 minutes.

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 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 English.

Board Members

Kevin Kennedy's Headshot
Kevin Kennedy

Kevin Kennedy lives in Indianapolis, Indiana and is the VP Marketing & Professional Services for Marketpath, Inc. focusing primarily on the company's strategic direction, branding, and partner channels. Kevin brings a unique perspective on organizational strategy, and both traditional and interactive marketing, based on his current position and previous leadership roles with Delta Faucet Company as Director of E-Business and Director of Interactive Marketing. Kevin graduated with a BBA in Finance from the University of Notre Dame and received his MBA from Eastern Michigan University.

Outside of his business career, Kevin has a passion for charitable organizations that support children, especially kids that don’t have the economic and community Kevin grew up with. In additionto his involvement with Juega Como Campeon, Kevin is also on the board of The Children's TherAplay Foundation and is actively involved with The Oaks Academy.

Kevin and his wife, Bridget, have five children that are his true love. In his spare time, Kevin spends time with his family, coaches and participates in various sports (basketball, tennis, golf, running), and enjoys reading and watching a good movie . He also enjoys travel and having a good beer or wine with friends.

Daniel Brennan's Headshot
Daniel Brennan

Dan Brennan has over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry in various roles of progressive leadership within Operations, US and Global Sales and Marketing, and New Product Development. He is currently the Chief Commercial Officer of Catalyst Pharmaceuticals in Coral Gables, FL, developing and commercializing innovative medicines for rare neuromuscular diseases. Prior to his pharmaceutical experience, he worked in human resources management in a manufacturing setting and social work with sexually and physically abused inner-city children in Chicago.

Mr. Brennan has served as a volunteer on a number of non-profit boards, including the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (current), Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Lake County IL, the Alzheimer’s Association of Central Indiana, Fairbanks Hospital Addiction Treatment Center, and the Eli Lilly Credit Union. He received a B.A. degree in Psychology from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA degree, with distinction, from the Kellogg Graduate School of Business at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Chris Travers
Chris Travers

Chris is a board member, as well as our founder and Executive Director. Learn more about Chris in the Director section above.

Support


Volunteer

Nothing outsizes the heart of a volunteer. Show up early, stay late and fill needs without instruction or request to do so.

The volunteer program will rely heavily on the participation of both foreign and local volunteers. This, by nature, will be somewhat flexible based on what the volunteer can give. We are currently seeking college aged volunteers to come down for 1-3 months during the summer.

We are especially interested in those that are considering teaching, coaching or service as a career. A typical day in the life of a volunteer will consist of: 2+ hours of intense Spanish classes provided by JCC free of charge, 2 hours of the volunteers tutoring the student athletes, 2-3 hours of assisting the local head coach in the practices and learning drills and skills of the sport they are assisting.

While many foundations request that the volunteers pay a monthly stipend to help the foundation survive, we will not do so. The volunteers are responsible for their travel and living expenses here in Santo Domingo. We will certainly assist them with housing options (which are extremely affordable) as well as orienting them to life here (transportation, phone, local laws and pitfalls, food, nightlife, medical, places of interest, etc…). To give an idea of the total monthly cost of a volunteer, it would be hard to spend $1,000 per month and can certainly be accomplished for $500.

Host a Sports Equipment Drive

Receiving gently used sports equipment will be a critical piece to the success of JCC. We need to emphasize a few points regarding this: 1) please note the words “gently used” (or new). Junk is just simply not economically viable to ship, especially if it takes up alot of space. 2) shipping costs will be paid there which will be delivered to the Dominican Republic. Currently, we are using a shipper located in New Jersey. Boxes are shipped to New Jersey and then routed to us - via “slowboat” that takes six weeks - in the Dominican Republic.

Equipment Drive Process

  • Collect all materials before a given date that the drive holder can decide on.
  • Pick up the requisite number of 28x18x18 boxes (available at Loews or Home Depot).
  • Pack the boxes - tight, naturally.
  • Communicate with us at JCC so we can provide you with the necessary address of current shipper OR our address if you ship direct to the Dominican Republic from your local post office.
  • Ship them to our carrier in New Jersey and communicate directly with them about their payment. Each box of those dimensions will cost $50-$65 depending on the time of year. Weight does NOT matter. OR Ship directly from your local post office to the Dominican Republic.

Make a contribution

Juega Como Campeon is a 501(c)(3) organization (EIN: 83-2516699) and donations are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Without generous donors like you, that provide gifts both large and small, we would not be able to offer the services we do. Thanks for generosity. Juega Como Campeon and our kids appreciate it!

Donate!

Employment Opportunities

JCC is currently accepting applications and resumes from people that can help in the following areas:

  • Fundraising, Development and local sponsorship (100% Bilingual position)
  • Social Media Manager and Promotion
  • Intern coaches of all sports, including strength and conditioning and nutrition
  • Assistant to the Director (Bilingual position)

Events


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Contact


If you have a question or inquiry, feel free to write us at: JuegaComoCampeon@gmail.com

Dominican Republic Office

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Email: JuegaComoCampeon@gmail.com

United States Office

2000 Salzedo Street, Suite 1211
Coral Gables, Florida 33134-0000

Email: JuegaComoCampeon@gmail.com