Play To Win: Like-Minded People Building Character Through Sports

Play To Win: Like-Minded People Building Character Through Sports

After selling his successful software company, Chris Bourassa had the means to do pretty much whatever he wanted.

He wanted to coach – to help young people to become better athletes, better students, and better people.

While he was coaching, Bourassa had an epiphany that led him to start another business, Play to Win Sports, and eventually to establish the Evergreen Sportsplex in Leesburg.

“In 2006, when Loudoun County opened Freedom High School, I was their first baseball coach,” Bourassa said. “I was walking through the school one Saturday morning, and I noticed that every nook and cranny of the school – every hallway, classroom, the library, and cafeteria — was filled with various groups. There were Cub Scouts, men’s basketball groups, church groups, first aid training and more.

“It just struck me, ‘Where did all these groups meet before they built this school? I started to think about how a facility can be a great multiplier for any cause or any group as a way to bring like-minded people together.”

The idea for Play to Win was born, and it quickly began to morph and evolve.

Josh Russell of Ripped Performance and Chris Bourassa of Play To Win Sports and the Evergreen Hammers have combined efforts to help build responsibility and character in youth through athletics.

“When we formed in 2005, it was primarily a sports facility consulting company,” Bourassa said. “We would help someone who wanted to build a sports facility. We help them with design, their business plan, raising money, working with local regulations for zoning, whatever they might need.”

Bourassa and Play to Win were contacted to help get the Evergreen Sportsplex off the ground, and they made it their home base.

“This project, Evergreen, was one of those projects where we were called in to help them get going,” Bourassa said. “This is the first one where we stayed on to manage day-to-day operations.”

Evergreen Sportsplex is Exhibit A when it comes to proving Bourassas’ facility multiplier theory.

The facility is used by a number of sports organizations, from youth to adults. The field is used for football, soccer, and field hockey, with leagues, tournaments, and even tryouts going on throughout the year. The FC Barcelona soccer franchise has an office there, from which it sponsors several youth and development teams.

One of the main components of the Play to Win Evergreen Sportsplex banner is the Evergreen Hammers Youth Football Association. The Hammers sponsor, equip, and train five youth football teams for ages 8 through 13. Evaluation sessions for the upcoming season are scheduled for March 30 and April 28.

“The underlying mission of all these clubs is to develop the character of young people through sports,” Bourassa said. “Youth sports can be a great vehicle to develop character and leadership and essentially help develop kids as they transition into their adult lives. The Evergreen Hammers are an example of that.”

Building on Bourassa’s goal of bringing like-minded people together, the Hammers recently signed a partnership agreement with Ripped Performance, a holistic training program in Sterling started by Cliff and Josh Russell. Cliff Russell played six years in the NFL after being the top draft pick of the Washington Redskins in 2002. Josh Russell played collegiate football at Virginia State and is certified by Virginia as a physical education instructor.

“We feel privileged to partner with the Hammers because they have the same heart and they care about their athletes,” Josh Russell said. “They are interested in their success, not just as athletes but in what they will grow up to become. We look at the whole athlete, and want them to become good husbands, good fathers, and good leaders.”

Bourassa said Ripped Performance will help the athletes who are part of the Hammers to train in the off-season and to continue the work of building their character. Up to 16 weeks of training in age-appropriate groups will be available to all participants in the Hammers program.

“They believe in leadership development and building accountability and responsibility,” Bourassa said. “One of our goals is to leverage like-minded people. They are like-minded people.”

Josh Russell said Ripped Performance is different than other youth training facilities because of its holistic approach to athletes are people.

“The Bible says there are many teachers but few fathers,” Russell said. “There are a lot of companies that do performance training, but here it is a much smaller number that looks at the whole person.”

Evergreen Sportsplex is also the home of the Loudoun Sports Angels, which it provides financial help to families who may need financial help to enable their children to play youth sports and to help high-schooler athletes to position themselves to go to college.

The organization contributes to things like player registration fees, equipment, shoes, camp fees, ACT/SAT preparation classes, and college trips.

“The foundation is part of the idea of using sport to develop character in kids,” Bourassa said. “It raises money to help families primarily in Loudoun County, who might not be able to afford things like the registration fees or equipment.”

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Joseph Dill