From New York to UCF: Catching up with NJTL ace Jabeiro Brown

Jabeiro Brown and his mentor Pat Geraghty. Photo courtesy of the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation.
September 21, 2020 11:00 AM

Jabeiro Brown of Jacksonville, Fla. has written thousands of words over the course of his academic career—but thanks to one special essay he penned as a student-athlete at the MaliVal Washington Youth Foundation, he was afforded a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that continues to shape who he is in the present.

Two years ago, Brown, now 20, was selected as the boys’ winner in the 18-and-under division in the 20th annual NJTL Essay Contest presented by Deloitte. Annually, students ages 10 to 18 are asked a question that allows them to share what they’ve learned through tennis and community involvement with their NJTL. Ten winners, one boy and one girl, from five age divisions are selected as winners and typically rewarded with a trip to New York for the US Open, where they attend Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, visit famous sights around the city, and participate in a mentoring event with working professionals in partnership with presenting sponsor Deloitte.

Forming Bonds Through Tennis and More

Having been enrolled in the MaliVal Washington Youth Foundation, located near his home, since 2008, being selected was the then-18-year-old Brown’s latest accomplishment in his decorated resume as a student-athlete at the NJTL.

He first attended the organization’s summer camp with his younger sister prior to entering third grade—“I saw the signs near my elementary school about it,” he recalled—and quickly became one of the MaliVal Washington Youth Foundation’s shining stars. Brown enthusiastically participated in many of the NJTL’s programs—including ‘Tennis-n-Tutoring,’ an after-school initiative for kids in kindergarten through the fifth grade that provides academic enrichment and health and fitness activities, and its organized traveling junior tennis team.

“It feels like a family,” Brown, who also competed for four years on his high school tennis team, said. “The people are fun to be around and make you feel comfortable. It gives you a sense of belonging.”

Jabeiro Brown and his sister Mauricia at a MWYF event. Photo courtesy of the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation.

Jabeiro Brown and his sister Mauricia at a MWYF event. Photo courtesy of the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation.

Brown ultimately found himself belonging to another special group in the summer of 2018, when he entered with an entry about the importance of discipline, and how participation in his NJTL’s after-school programs affected all areas of his life.

“The most important lesson I’ve learned is to be disciplined. Discipline has made me a better student, tennis player, and individual overall,” he wrote in part. “Being disciplined helped me influence others as well. People look at me and are motivated because I work towards what I want and don’t settle for less.”

As a contest-winner, he later earned the opportunity to meet other tennis-playing peers from around the U.S. and visit the Big Apple for the first time.

“I was shocked because I didn’t know I was finalist, and my sister [also] was… when she found out I won, she was shocked, too. We hadn’t known that I was a finalist as well, and I ended up winning,” he said.

“I was excited because I’d never been to New York before. The trip was really fun and we did a lot different things around New York, but I also liked the people. Even though we didn’t know each other, it felt like we knew each other for a while. We got along really well together.”

Making a Difference

In the end, Brown was rewarded for the discipline he highlighted, which he showcased in his life both on the court and in the classroom.

He earned a trio of scholarships from the MaliVal Washington Youth Foundation when he graduated high school in 2018, and also earned the Dwight F. Davis Memorial College Scholarship, named in honor of the founder of the modern-day Davis Cup and the 11th president of the USTA, from the USTA Foundation.

Brown noted how the financial assistance provided to him by both his NJTL and the USTA Foundation helped him matriculate at the University of Central Florida, where he is currently studying business management. A rising junior, he ultimately hopes to pursue a career in music and entertainment marketing, and has already held leadership positions in on-campus organizations.

Jabeiro Brown with his scholarship awards. Photo courtesy of the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation.

Jabeiro Brown with his scholarship awards. Photo courtesy of the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation.

Reflecting on the experience, Brown said that the topic he selected for his essay has remained a mantra in his life.

“In college, you don’t have people pushing you to do things,” he explained. “Learning discipline helped me to push myself to stay on track.”

Paying it Forward

Now firmly on the road to completing his college degree, Brown says that the life skills he honed while a member of an NJTL program remain crucial in his life— and his advice to current echoes the sentiment that took him all the way from Jacksonville to New York.

“Push forward towards what you’re passionate about,” he said. “If you’re more interested in what you want to do in life, you’ll become passionate about it, and it won’t seem like a job or a task. You’ll just be doing something that you like doing.

“No matter how hard things get, never give up, because things might seem hard and you might feel that you’ll never accomplish what you want to, but if you keep going, you will.”

 

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