Today we’re excited to announce a very special Game Grower of the Month in collaboration with Easton Lacrosse. By recognizing those doing extraordinary things to grow the game, it’s our hope that this award will help inspire others to give back too!
The May 2013 Game Grower of the Month is…
Claudette Wilmot of Bull Bay, Jamaica
I met Claudette for the first time last month when I was given the opportunity to travel to Jamaica, thanks to my new friend Chuck Richardson and the Fields of Growth organization. I was only on the ground there a total of eight days, but before writing any further, I must say the experience truly changed my life.
Claudette, or Maggie as almost everyone calls her, welcomed Chuck and me into her home simply because of Chuck’s affiliation with Fields of Growth and our intention to volunteer. From the first time I met her, I could sense the warmth of her heart. She is a woman of the utmost character, carrying with her very strong beliefs, yet she is also incredibly open minded – all in all, a genuine human being. She is one of the kindest and most thoughtful people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting in my life, which is why this award is so special to me.
But don’t just take my word for it. Spend a few minutes speaking with Harry Holden or Joey Blount, two of the first people to set foot in Jamaica with Fields of Growth to help grow the game. The way those two talk about Maggie and her family, including her husband Billy Mystic, makes it all clear. Harry and Joey both lived at the Wilmot’s home, known as Jamnesia, for several months on end, and it won’t take you long to recognize what an incredible impact this experience has had on them.
Growing the game in Jamaica was one thing, but being able to meet people like Maggie, Billy, Harry and Joey, and experience the culture of this great country was the cherry on top of my amazing adventure.
If you would like to support the growth of lacrosse in Jamaica, please consider volunteering with Fields of Growth or becoming a GTG Member of our website. Proceeds from your GTG membership will go to Jamaica Lacrosse and LaxAllStars.com’s efforts to Grow The Game.
We recently sent Maggie a few questions to learn more about what she’s doing to help grow the great sport of lacrosse in Jamaica. Below are her answers word for word.
LAS: Can you describe the state of lacrosse in your area?
Maggie: The game is in its gestation period, it’s just being introduced by Jamaica Lacrosse Association with support from Fields of Growth and the Jamnesia Surf Club and the Wilmot family. Kevin Dugan sent the first four FOG volunteers (Charlie, Peter, Harry and Alex) and they introduced the sports to Kingston College, then St George’s. Kingston College was chosen because our boys attended KC. Also it was in proximity to three other schools. Our initial objective was to introduce the game to two boys schools and if we could go into two selected girls schools. We also wanted to introduce the sport to St. Andrew High School for girls as our daughter attended that school.
By the end of their tenure the four volunteers had established the lacrosse training program in KC using gear and equipment donated Abyssnyah the wider lacrosse community to equip the teams. KC provided storage and St. George’s was challenged to find space so the gear had to be transported. I made a deal with the volunteers and they shared the cost for repairing my old Suzuki Samurai which Harry drove, thus earning his PHD (Pot Hole Dodging). The long term volunteers left at the end of the school term and Kevin returned with a group of 14 short term volunteers.
With school on holidays for December Jamaica Lacrosse / Field of Growth with help of 14 short term volunteers conducted training sessions in Riverton City Kingston. Riverton City borders the municipal site and residents face social discrimination. Parents were very appreciative of the efforts of the volunteers and children were highly motivated by the experience.
The 2013 program resumed with the return of one volunteer from the December 2012 short term trip and two of the pioneers from the inaugural mission. They carried on the high school Programme in KC and St. Geores, as well as coaching in Riverton City youths on Saturdays. Also they began coaching youth in the communities served by S Corner Clinic a non-government organization on Sundays.
Recently lacrosse was introduced to Holy Trinity High School. KC and St. George’s boys schools played a friendly demonstration match. Children are very excited about this new sport. Jamaica’s first lacrosse summer camp will be held July 2013.
In what ways are you involved in growing the sport in your area?
As a catalyst to enhance the development of the sports. I selected the initial two schools and made contact with all the coaches. My husband, who is a public figure, has endorsed the efforts and has orientated sports persons of national renown, to be directors of Jamaica Lacrosse. He organized a meeting with the national body that puts on school sporting championships for different age groups. I also help to provide access to transport and reduce rates on accommodation, mentor volunteers by providing advice or helping to strategically plan the intervention, and to evaluate the social impact of the intervention and to be culturally relevant.
What is the biggest obstacle for lacrosse growth in your area?
The sport is expensive and as youth grow, they out grow equipment – outside of the normal wear and tear. The Lacrosse community is willing to donate but the shipping and customsq fees are expensive . Also the needs of the High School Program differs as those youths are older mostly older that the children from S Corner and Riverton.
If each school had a coach and their own equipment they could train everyday. As it is coaching needs and equipment create obstacles. Long term volunteers are needed. Someone who can coach for the school year, as it is a coach who gets to know the kids and build their trust and then go. Each school must have the capacity to carry out the program. I worry about impact and scope sustainability. Jamaica has a sports college and the graduates are employed as sports teachers. We need to get into the college. If we build the sport will there be long term commitment from sponsors. Piping cost will be a big obstacle.
How did you get involved with the sport? Who taught you the game?
I don’t play at all. I am involved because Kevin Dugan of Fields of Growth asked us to get involved.
What has been your biggest accomplishment when it comes to growing the game?
I have been working with developmental agencies for over 30 years. My experience mobilizing communities, implementing projects and networking with agencies at all levels have been of benefit. For example the connection with Holy Trinity was made easier because I know the principal of the school and she is aware of the work I do as a Parent Trainer and Trainer of Trainers. She was the principal of another school that I worked with due to my part time work at the S Corner Clinic. I trained their teachers and parents. The intervention with S Corner Clinic is possible because of my position there as Youth Community Education Specialist with responsibility for sports and education programmes. The support of the S Corner staff was rallied to enable FOG / Jamaica Lacrosse to have a friendly contest between Riverton and S Corner. I think however my biggest accomplishment is the insight I bring and my experience at strategic planning.
Who or what inspires you most to help grow the game?
My husband Billy asked me to help. Plus it’s about serving kids.
What is your favorite thing about our sport? What has drawn you to lacrosse the most?
The spirit of service and dedication to the sport that I see in Kevin and the volunteers.
Do you have a favorite lacrosse team? Favorite player(s)?
I have no favorites because all I know are the volunteers from FOG. We get a mix of jerseys and gear donated from various teams but I have no idea of the status of these teams. I am just happy they choose to help and that’s all the status I need.
What do you do outside of the sport?
I am secretary of the Jamaica Surfing Association, I work part time at S Corner Clinic, am a parent trainer and member of the Parent Partners Caribbean, Coalition for Better Parenting. I also am a Social Worker and Special Educator and Rehabilitation Coordinator and an advocate for persons living with disabilities.
If you could change one thing about our sport, what would it be and why?
I wish the equipment were less expensive.
Congratulations, Claudette! A well-deserved honor. Keep growing the game!
As a small token of our appreciation, we will be sending Claudette an Easton Prize Pack to use as she sees fit. Know someone who should receive next month’s award? Fill out the Nomination Form form today!