Thanks Posted on October 1, 2020 at 11:55:02 AM by Benny b
Thank you and you’re welcome!
I’ve said it dozens of times and I’ll never stop saying it, the sport of Jai Alai has given me everything that I have today! There is no way that I could ever repay my gratitude and appreciation to the sport. Regardless of what I do.
And thank you for mentioning Jai Alai athletic Society. It was a great time in my life and even though it didn’t go where I wanted to go, I learned So much from that experience.
I’ll give you the short condensed version of the story about Jas.
In 2006 when I retired from playing, I wanted to continue in the sport by being a coach or a teacher. I wanted to do it through Miami or Dania but at the time there was very little interest.
In the early 2000‘s when we were lobbying the state to allow the slot machines, I made some very close friends and great contacts In the political arena. Through the efforts that the players and myself made to lobby for the slots, I met many city commissioners, mayors and state representatives.
One of the state representatives at the time, Juan Carlos Zapata, became very engaged in the sport of Jai Alai. We remain friends to this day.
He always made an effort to help me achieve the dream of becoming Hey Jai Alai teacher and getting a court built somewhere in the south Florida area. It was his idea for me to start a nonprofit organization and try to raise some seed money to get a small court built somewhere in Miami. Through his position as a state representative he put me in several rooms with very important people that can make it happen.
In addition, he donated thousands of dollars to the organization to try to get the project moving. I met with over 5 mayors from the city of Miami, city of Hialeah, city of Sweetwater, Miami Dade County and the city of Doral to try to pitch the idea of building an amateur court. Even if it was an outdoors court that would’ve worked.
If the court would’ve been built he was going to help me partner with local community organizations to do after school programs and summer camps revolving around Jai Alai. We got very close with the city of Doral that was working on a $100 million park development project that Juan Carlos was going to help them get some federal funding for their project. He was adamant that if he were going to help that Jai Alai had to be a part of the development project. Unfortunately, that project fell through. Shortly after that I began working at Dania and my life and goals for the sport shifted into another direction.
Even though Jai Alai athletic society was born almost 15 years ago it was never dissolved and it is still an active nonprofit organization. I still have the hopes of someday using it as a vehicle to partner with other local community organizations to do something revolving around Jai Alai.