One student’s dynamic journey on the road to higher education
A 2018 Multnomah Athletic Foundation Loprinzi Scholarship recipient and graduate of Jefferson High School, Javondre Cole recently completed his freshman year at Winston-Salem University, a historically black college in North Carolina.
“I am blessed with a village in Portland that encouraged and supported me,” Cole says. That “village” is best described as a network of sports teams, coaches, mentors, close family friends and non-profits dedicated to underserved youth. As a result, he entered his freshman year with the tools to succeed, settling in easily and earning a 4.0 GPA his first semester.
Achievement Through Athletics
High school team sports played an important role in Cole’s personal development. At Jefferson High School, he was on the baseball and football teams. Cole describes football as his first love.
He began playing in fifth grade. He was co-captain of the team his junior year, then became captain his senior year. “I saw myself as the emotional heartbeat of the team,” Cole explains. Cole’s inclination to lead was noticed by Jefferson’s head baseball coach, who referred Cole to Friends of Baseball, a nonprofit that enhances children’s lives through baseball programs.
Executive Director Nova Newcomer steered Cole towards one of the organization’s first fellowships with Full Count, a summer program that mentors youths 7-11. “At first, dealing with little kids was out of my comfort zone,” says Cole. “But then I realized I enjoyed it. I learned patience. I also realized that whether you know it or not, there’s someone out there who needs you and who will benefit from what you can teach them.”
What started out as a one-week commitment evolved into a long-term internship. During his fellowship, Cole helped mentor more than 100 students in North and Northeast Portland at Jason Lee and Woodlawn schools. The experience also evolved into an ongoing professional relationship with Newcomer. “What strikes me most about Javondre is how he connects the dots,” says Newcomer. “He transformed our fellowship program. Not only did he work with us full-time in the summer of 2017, he referred three of his Jefferson teammates for 2018 fellowship opportunities as well,” Newcomer adds. “This year, we will have more than double that number [of fellowship mentors], which will help us serve a record amount of kids this summer. Young leaders like Javondre are shaping the future of sports-based youth development.”
Cole also received mentoring through Self Enhancement Inc. (SEI), a results-oriented nonprofit committed to helping predominantly African-American youth realize their potential. Cole got involved with SEI in second grade and maintains a relationship with the organization to this day. He credits SEI with teaching him how to be resourceful and resilient when he hits a rough patch in life.
Cole’s formative years, defined by athletics and strong community support, paid off. The foundation’s Loprinzi Scholarship is one example. Recipients are awarded an $8,000 scholarship based on criteria that includes academics, community involvement/leadership, ath- letic participation and financial need. The funding does not simply reward a student’s past performance. Instead, the individual’s high school involvement is viewed as an indicator for success in higher education and beyond.
Away at School
“I’ve always liked building networks, and attending an out-of-state school is an opportunity to widen my circle.” Cole says. During his freshman year, he experienced a peak moment as a participant in a state-wide case studies competition that spans the fields of athletics, health, physical education, recreation, dance and sport management. During the annual event, four-member student teams compete to develop the best sports-management strategies. “I was out of my comfort zone,” he admits. But not surprisingly, Cole and his teammates rose to the occasion and won. “It felt great, and I was really proud since it helped raise our school’s profile,” he says.
In addition to his college successes, Cole admits that he also faces challenges. “Sometimes I can be a little too intense,” he confesses. Aware that he needs to make time to relax, Cole directs his abundant energy toward hanging out with friends, noting, “Sometimes you can learn more from people than you can from textbooks.” It’s safe to say that whether its sports, scholastics, community service or just spending time with friends, Cole is committed to bettering himself, helping others succeed and forging lasting relationships. Thanks to his positive outlook, hard work and leadership skills, that should continue long after he graduates in 2022.
This year, Cole receives a continuing-support scholarship — a smaller gift Multnomah Athletic Foundation provides to former Loprinzi winners who demonstrate success in their college careers. Cole, along with Foundation’s other scholarship recipients (47, in all) will be recognized at the scholarship celebration event in July.
- Cole’s scholarship is named after Joe Loprinzi, the fitness guru and longtime MAC employee who positively impacted many club members. The foundation also oversees seven other scholarships that honor the work of individuals who have made a difference at MAC and in the community.
- The James and Marion Miller Scholar Athlete Scholarship partially funds the MAC Scholar Athlete program for high school sophomores chosen from 29 local high schools. Students in the program also receive a MAC membership that starts at the end of their sophomore year.
- The Fay Sasser MAC Employee Scholarship provides support for continuing education of Multnomah Athletic Club employees, their children or their grandchildren. The award is named after MAC’s legendary front desk employee Fay Sasser.
- The Houser Scholarship awards a two- year scholarship to a graduating senior from Lincoln High School.
- The Mel Fox Scholarship recognizes a graduating high school senior from Franklin High School.
- The Stephani Turner Scholarship provides funds to a graduating senior on the MAC swim team. This program was established by Turner’s family to honor Stephani, a former MAC swim coach.
- The Michael Scott Miller Scholarship provides funds to a graduating senior on the MAC men’s gymnastics team. This program was established by the Miller family to honor Michael, an athlete at MAC.
- The Phyllis Johnson Scholarship provides funds for a graduating senior on the MAC women’s gymnastics team. This program was established in honor of Phyllis, an athlete and current member at MAC.
The hardest part about sharing the stories of our scholarship recipients is choosing whose to tell. This month, we shared Javondre Cole’s story, but he’s just one of three inspirational teens who received Loprinzi Scholarship last year. And the Loprinzi Scholarship is one of eight programs that honors students across the region, many of whom have overcome incredible odds to find academic and athletic success.
By Laurie Harquail
Originally published in the July 2019 issue of The Winged M magazine.
To learn more about the scholarships offered through the foundation visit our scholarship page!