USFSC founder Dean Doeling shares the group’s latest accomplishments at a meet and greet at La Tapa.
About a dozen people munched on appetizers and sipped refreshments at La Tapa on Wednesday afternoon, April 27, while hearing about the latest accomplishments of Using Sport for Social Change.
A non-profit group launched by Dean Doeling in 2008, USFSC has hosted two successful “Just Play Days” for island youth and donated more than 900 sports balls to local schools. The third annual Just Play Day is set for Monday, October 10, 2011 at Winston Wells ball field and the group already has several sponsors and is looking for more.
La Tapa, Mathayom, Nike, St. John Community Foundation and the V.I. Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation have already signed on as sponsors. Doeling is hoping to attract more sponsors in order to make the upcoming Just Play Day — which encourages children of all ages to compete in sporting events from football toss to 50 yard dash — the best one yet.
Doeling was inspired to form USFSC during a vacation to St. John where he watched students in Cruz Bay kicking around a flat soccer ball. The Nike employee from Oregon decided to donate some sports equipment to the island, but soon realized there was a need for more than a few athletic balls.
“I started by thinking we could just throw a few balls at the school and help out, but I quickly realized there was a bigger need here,” said Doeling. “There needed to be commitment, follow through and caring. The kids needed to know that I would be back here year after year and I am.”
While Doeling works for Nike and uses the company’s incentive programs to obtain equipment for the island, USFSC is not affiliated with the sports mega-brand.
“Nike supports me and this group, but this is in no way a Nike event,” said Doeling. “This is something that is near and dear to my heart and something I work really hard on along with a small island team of volunteers.”
Doeling outlined the group’s achievements over the past year, which included sponsoring the recent Tortola Surf Classic, taking part in the annual Cruz Bay St. Patrick’s Day Parade, winning a community award from Southland Gaming and sponsoring an inning of the annual Ruby Rutnik Memorial Softball Tournament.
Looking ahead, Doeling hopes USFSC will take part in the annual Julius E. Sprauve School ceremony honoring student athletes, host the third annual Just Play Day and continue to donate sports balls to island schools as needed, Doeling explained.
Other USFSC goals for 2011 included creating more in-depth partnerships with local sports groups and bringing the innovative Nike program SPARQ training to St. John, according to Doeling.
The program is basically a way to quantify Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness in a variety of sports and assigning ratings to athletes. Doeling foresees hosting a several day SPARQ training session on St. John in the future, which will depend on community support and sponsorship, he explained.
USFSC also relies on community support and donations. The group has several tiers of sponsorship from $100 for an Olympian Sponsor which gets one’s business on all USFSC materials, to $4,000 Platinum Sponsors which gets one’s logo on all material and on the sleeve of the T-shirts handed out during Just Play Day. The group is under the financial umbrella of St. John Community Foundation, a non-profit 501 c3 organization.
For more information on USFSC, or to donate to the group, check out www.usingsportforsocialchange.com.