Alumnus Enriches Bahamian Youth through Sports and Recreation

By Coby Dolloff '21
Friday, February 9, 2018

Simeon Hinsey ’02 has always had a love for the game of basketball.

From his childhood in the Bahamas playing with a basketball goal made from a milk crate attached to a coconut tree to playing on a 10 ft. basketball goal at JBU, the sport was always one of his greatest gifts and passions. Now, he is using the game as his ministry.

In 2015, Hinsey co-founded the International Youth Education and Sports Foundation (iYES) with his wife Stephanie '01. iYES, based in Springdale, Arkansas, seeks to enhance the cultural exchange between youth in the U.S., the Bahamas and other Caribbean nations through sports and recreation. Hinsey wants to develop communities and prepare youth to pursue post-secondary education and believes recreation and sport is a powerful impetus to that end.

Like Hinsey, many children in the Bahamas and other Caribbean nations grow up with a lack of physical and educational resources. For some, sports are the only opportunity they have to pursue education and opportunity outside of the Caribbean.

For many Americans, the Bahamas is just a luxury vacation spot. Hinsey and his team hope to counter this notion by exposing more people to the needs experienced by those living in Caribbean nations. iYes seeks to bolster these opportunities in multiple ways. In the short-term, iYES is working to improve Bahamian communities and American awareness through athletic and missional trips the foundation sponsors.

“Awareness is the first step to creating change,” Hinsey said.

On these trips, Americans experience Bahamian culture, play sports with Bahamian athletes, and serve the community by improving sports facilities or participating in other projects.

Thus far, iYES has led one cultural exchange trip to the Nassau, Bahamas, partnering with nine students from Lang Academy in Springdale. Another trip is scheduled for this June to Andros. Hinsey plans to expand the program to one spring break trip and two summer trips per year, and eventually build a home base in Andros that could accept teams year-round.

Additionally, he hopes to partner with a university in the near future to begin sponsoring trips to the U.S. for Bahamian students.

In the long-term, Hinsey hopes the foundation will establish quality athletic facilities where Bahaman athletes can get specialized training to advance their skills.

Hinsey has had the vision for this ministry nearly his whole life. Coming to the U.S. through the game of basketball at 15 and receiving a basketball scholarship from JBU were events that catalyzed the course of his life.

Hinsey played basketball at JBU from 1999 to 2002 and later worked at JBU in several positions including sports information director, director of intramurals, adjunct professor of health and wellness, and assistant athletic director for media relations before founding iYES. Hinsey reports his time at JBU was foundational.

“At JBU, I honed my basketball skills, learned and developed as an employee, and grew so much in my knowledge of leadership,” Hinsey said. “It’s also where I met my wife!”

Hinsey wants to create more opportunities for others to do the same through iYES.

iYES’s vision for the Bahamas will continue to require lots of time and effort, but the foundation is already making great progress. Whether building new sports facilities for Bahamian athletes or simply creating awareness of what Bahamian life is like, the organization’s trips and sports tours are laying the groundwork for their future goals.

“God didn’t make me a rocket scientist. He didn’t make me the president,” Hinsey said. “He gave me a little bit of skill in basketball and a passion for management and leadership. I’m trying to use those things for good to the best of my ability.”

To learn more about iYES and how you can support them or participate in a trip, visit iyesfoundation.org.

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