The Paradise Jams Tournament graced the UVI courts for the second year in a row this Nov. 22 through 30. For those attending (both locals and visitors) it was a very exciting event. For those of you that did not attend you missed a really great experience. Not only did the tournament give locals an opportunity to see Division-I teams in action, but it also brought in revenue for local businesses. Big events are always difficult to put together; and my hat goes off to the many individuals that were part of the planning for this years event. Overall the event was a great success.
While sitting in the stands, a few suggestions came to mind as how the event can be even better next year. I would like to offer five ways to improve upon an already successful annual event: 1) better and faster food service; 2) showcasing local talent; 3) enticing families to travel with teams; 4) expanding local support; and 5) instilling hope and pride in future players through support.
1) Better and Faster Food Service: Given the fact that this event is fast-paced and filled with the unexpected, not many want or like to be away from their seats for any extended period of time. Thereby, a greater effort should be made to shorten the lines at the concession stands. Shortening the waiting time would allow those attending the event to return back to their seats to enjoy the event sooner. Consistent monitoring of the amount of food would prevent frustration of those wanting to purchase fast selling items like pizza. Being consistently aware of food levels and demand would eliminate individuals from running back and forth from the event to see if the food they want is available. Hiring individuals to circulate the stands with pizza, hot dogs, drinks, etc. would eliminate these problems. The concession menu could also be expanded to include more variety. Easy-to-make items like nachos, fries and other local items would give other options. These items could be added for visitors and locals alike. New local items could include patties, Johnnycakes, fracos, and various local drinks. Such items would give visitors a unique cultural opportunity to try different items that are unavailable in the States.
2) Showcasing Local Talent: Another suggestion is to take full advantage of the half-time show. It is a perfect time to showcase the talents of the V.I. children. Though the performances viewed at the game were wonderful, the time could have also been used as an opportunity for more performances, whether from individuals who participated in previous Star-fests, or games between the all-star players from each school it would definitely be an opportunity to display the best our Territory has to offer to coaches and scouts that are already in attendance. We could honor players and coaches by giving awards to those who have given back to their communities and who continue to promote basketball in the Territory.
3) Enticing Families to Travel with Teams: We could increase the number of family members traveling with the teams if our local families would offer to host family members during these events. Standards would be established, homes inspected and approved. Upon approve pictures can be taken and posted via the Internet on a Paradise Jams Web site. If a local family does not have extra room and still wanted to participate, it could host a player, coach, or team by offering dinner, lunch, etc. Locals could also volunteer to take families shopping, to the beaches or on cultural tours. So that visitors will want to return in the future, we could share the beauty of our Islands and our people by offering local hospitality whenever and however we can.
4) Expanding Local Support: It was also interesting to see local Hampton Alumni cheering their team on, and this school spirit offers one more way to increase local support. Offering alumni lower admission fees on the evenings that their teams are playing if they wear their school paraphernalia should encourage local support.
5) Instilling Hope and Pride in Future Players Through Support: Though we should not limit the participation of teams based on whether or not they have players from our territory, Paradise Jams should also consider trying to bring teams that have V.I. players on their rosters (Anwar Rohan, University of Delaware; Omari Peterkin, Notre Dame; and Jabahri Brown, Oklahoma University; Lynn Liburd, James Madison, and Damarah Rhymes, American University). Currently there are over one hundred V.I. players abroad playing for colleges and universities. This will not only make locals proud of the players, but it will help the various players improve when they see the amount of support that is given, and gain memories they will never forget. Bringing in teams with locals will also prove to younger players that it is possible to make a college program with hard work.
Special thanks to the director of sports at UVI and his staff; and also halos to all the volunteers and individuals who made this Paradise Jams such as great success.
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