Connections, commonalities, differences, and unique experiences can all help create special opportunities for learning that without these pieces would be near impossible. These are but a few of the important concepts behind the vision and mission of America's Team, an organization founded by Brigham Joy.
This past November, I had the distinct pleasure of being introduced to Brigham of America's Team through my friend Tony Fiorino (radio host of Let Them Play out of Westchester, NY). Tony, seeing that I had genuine interest in developing positive characteristics in athletes through competitive sports participation, thought Brigham and I might have some common interests. Where I see a "deeper" meaning and purpose behind athletic sports participation, Brigham also sees a higher purpose.
And it is this higher purpose, as described in my first paragraph above, for which America's Team has a central focus.
To see what I mean, take a look at Brigham's answers to what they do, why they do it, and what he believes his kids get out of an America's Team experience.
What we do
At America's Team, we introduce kids to a foreign country, its culture and its people...all while getting to compete in a sport they love. No matter where you go in the world, sports are still the same game, and played with the same passion and excitement. Imagine...foreign places, foreign players and fans, one common game and goal.
Why we do it
Simple... as a kid I went to Europe to play baseball and, in looking back, it was the best sports experience I ever had! I went from small-town kid living in Kansas, one who had hardly been out of the Midwest, to a person that now can't wait to go somewhere new and learn about its history, people and culture. My goal is simple; give other kids the same opportunity I had when I was a kid.
What the kids get out of an America's Team experience
a. Learning for a lifetime - we put the kids in front of a variety of foreign ideas and places in the hope that something on tour will "grab" them and open up their minds to opportunities they didn't even know were available; that the experience on tour will encourage them to explore new ideas and continue to grow.
b. Grow up - during the tours, kids will be forced to think and act on their feet by doing everyday tasks that would otherwise be very simple for them. Ex...buying a Coke at a "quik shop"...easy to do at home. Try buying that same Coke, when you don't speak the language well, don't fully understand the currency and aren't familiar with the culture you are in. Now, getting that Coke is a task that requires thought and execution.
c. Learn about the sport - the game is fundamentally the same, but each country puts its own twist on little nuances of the game. So the kids are able to learn firsthand about the sport, just by experiencing it from a foreign viewpoint.
d. Learn about another people/culture - not only do we compete against foreign teams, but after the competition we stay for a BBQ/social with the team we just played against. It gives the kids a chance to get to know a kid from a foreign country and gain an understanding you can only get through face-to-face communication.
e. Represent the USA - not many athletes get the opportunity to put the USA on their chests and represent our great country in sports. Ours do. How many people do you know that can say that?
f. Appreciate home - our kids come back home with a newfound appreciation for what it means to be an American. All the places we travel are great, but no other country enjoys the same amount of freedom, wealth and opportunity that we have here in the USA.
Yes, connections, commonalities, differences, and unique experiences, all positives helping athletes grow; something that can certainly give one a much more well-rounded perspective on life. Brigham Joy and America's Team sure seem to have a great prescription for that.
If you would like more information about America's Team, please call Brigham at 620-263-3255 or firstname.lastname@example.org