From the St. John Source By David Knight Jr. — October 10, 2016
U.S. Virgin Islands Olympic boxer Clayton Laurent Jr. had a message for young aspiring athletes at St. John’s 8th annual Just Play event on Monday: “Dedication, hard work, respect and love” are the ingredients to success in the world of professional sports.
“Those four things will take you anywhere you want to go,” Laurent told the approximately 200 young people between the ages of five to 17 who signed up for the event.
Just Play is hosted by the organization Using Sport for Social Change, the St. John Community Foundation, and St. John Parks and Recreation. Just Play’s purpose is thelping to focus Virgin Island youth through sports and fitness, giving them the confidence they need to set personal goals, achieve their aspirations and create opportunity for themselves, their family and their community. Laurent, who was the V.I. flag carrier at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, was on hand at Cruz Bay’s Winston Wells Ballfield to encourage young aspiring athletes to pursue their passions.
“Sports can take you all over the world,” said Laurent.
He told the kids that when he first started boxing, part of the appeal was that the sport allowed him to travel, even if just to nearby Puerto Rico. But boxing has since taken him as far as Brazil and Poland, he said.
Laurent reminded the event’s young participants that there are many professionals who grew up in the Virgin Islands just like they are doing, athletes who attended their schools, and trained on the same fields and courts they play on. He mentioned major league baseball players Jharell Cotton and Jabari Blash as examples.
“There’s a lot of great talent in the Virgin Islands and you guys are the next set,” he said.
Dean Doeling, a senior production artist for Nike who founded Using Sport for Social Change and conceptualized Just Play, said he wants to see more opportunities for young people on St. John to be involved in athletics.
Doeling, a resident of Oregon who frequently travels to St. John, said he “noticed a big need for sports on the island” about a decade ago and “knew that [he] would eventually be able to do something about it.”
Doeling said he didn’t want to “dive in” without the right resources, so he began networking with parents and school faculty, non-profits, Nike, and sponsors in both the V.I. and Oregon with the goal of launching Just Play. The event now draws approximately 200 young people each year, and 30 volunteers from the community.
“It’s been fantastic. I’ve seen the kids since they were five years old the first year that we were here, and now they’re volunteering with us,” Doeling said. “It’s really a blessing to see these kids grow and change and still be involved in sports.”
He said that next year’s Just Play event promises to be the biggest yet and will include a “cultural heritage” component in honor of the V.I.’s centennial year.
Sponsors for 2016’s Just Play included Mathayom Private Chefs, AAA Fire Protection, Windspree, Seaside Properties, High Tide, the Inn at Tamarind Court, Get Trashed, Sunshine’s Jeep Rental, 8 Tuff Miles, St. John Hardware, X on St. John, Skinny Legs, Cruz Bay Landing, St. John Inn, Aqua Bistro, The Long Board, Caravan Gallery, Ronnie’s Pizza, St. John Rescue, St. John Spice, St. John Provisions, Infinity Personal and Business Services, St. John Ice and Water, STJ Board of Realtors, Love City Lunchbox, Cruz Bay Landing, Morgan’s Mango, Alice By the Sea, William Stelzer, The Triple B, the St. John Community Foundation, and the St. John Dept. of Sports, Parks and Recreation.
We so appreciate our early sponsors! It allows us to get things done prior to the event and to take advantage of some discounts when ordering water bottles, event t-shirts, Gatorade, trophies etc. There is still plenty of time for you to get on board for our early sponsorship's. Our sponsorship's start at only $100 and gets you or your business name on everything from our event T's, postcards, event banners and our websites.
You are also able to donate as an individual as well. Anything helps as this event is fully dependant on donations in order to put it on as a free event for the island youth.
Please contact Celia or Michelle up at the SJCF with any questions.
Can you believe it? The 8th Annual Just Play day is scheduled for October 10, 2006!
We are thrilled to be holding this annual event once again and are starting our fundraising early as it gives us time to get all sponsors listed on all promotional materials, plus ensures longer promotional time for our early sponsors. Please donate today. You can easily donate right here on Global Giving.
I wanted to share with you, our USFSC supporters, a quick snapshot of what it actually takes to put this event on. Without amazing people like you and our sponsors, this event could have never taken place, much less, lasted 5 years!Incredibly, these events are worth over $60,000.00 each. The donations of product from our sponsors cover over $54,000.00. This leaves just over $6,500.00 of expenses left to cover. Every year we count on cash donations to cover these expenses which include T-shirts, water bottles, trophies and medals, shipping, Gatorade, event entertainment, event insurance, facility rental and other hard costs associated with putting this event on.Dean Doeling with Nike is a huge fan of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. On one of his trips to St. John, he noticed that about 7 kids were all playing with a (one) flat, worn out soccer ball and having the best time!. Right then he had two thoughts: 1) How great it is that these kids can have so much fun kicking a worn out, flat soccer ball! 2) Hey wait...is this the only soccer ball that they had? Where were the others? It put an idea into his head that since he works at Nike, he could use Nike as a resource to help the kids achieve some athletic goals, thereby giving them courage and enough confidence to achieve other lifetime goals. His intention is to develop and assist with sports and fitness programs within local schools and the community. This plan will involve local schools, businesses, charitable organizations, Nike vendors and of course, Nike.Please join this worthy initiave and show your support! Thanks!!
Founder: Using Sport For Social Change