Westchester High School graduate Jay Morris knows the crushing disappointment athletes can feel when they are hit with a season-ending injury during the peak of their high school career.
The injury can ruin any chances for an athletic scholarship and even end hopes of playing in college and professionally.
As a three-sport athlete at Westchester High School, Morris suffered a season-ending knee injury while playing quarterback for the Comets football team. Not only did the injury end his senior football season, but it forced him to sit out for his other two sports, basketball and baseball.
Although the setback disrupted his chances of getting a scholarship to a top athletic program, Morris, now 27, didn’t let the injury keep him from competing beyond high school.
“It hurt because it was the first time I was not actively playing in a season, but I told myself I wasn’t going to let it stop the pursuit of my dreams,” said Morris, a personal trainer who grew up in Baldwin Hills.
After high school, Morris played cornerback for the California Lutheran University football team for two seasons and then went on to play for the Bakersfield Blitz in the Arena Football League for a year.
The 1998 Westchester High graduate was able to continue his athletic pursuits beyond high school but he didn’t forget what it was like to have his plans change due to an injury. Morris, who doesn’t want other talented athletes to have their dreams crushed because of an injury or limited resources, is the founder of a sports skill and personal development company that aims to help youth athletes achieve their ambitions.
“I wanted to help the athletes, who have the ability, but do not have the resources, get a scholarship,” Morris said.
Fittingly, Morris called his company DREAM (Dedicated to Reaching Excellence through Athletic Mastery). The company is on the Web at www.dream-sp orts.com/.
He says the company is not just about helping athletes accomplish their sports-related goals but also get into college.
“I wanted the youths to have the opportunity to go to college and athletics is a great avenue,” Morris said. “My main thing is to get them a college degree.”
Through DREAM, the athletes can maximize their natural athletic ability through training and skill development, and improve their opportunities for earning a college scholarship, Morris said.
The company works not only with youths, but athletes at all levels.
Morris, who earned a degree in kinesiology at California State University Dominguez Hills, enjoyed his stint in the Arena Football League, but he knew it wouldn’t be a career so he decided to pursue another sports-related job.
“My whole life, sports has been it for me,” Morris said of his career ambition.
Using the money he saved from the Arena Football League, Morris converted his mother’s garage into an athletic training facility and began to work as a personal trainer. He wanted to enhance the training and skill development of athletes in all sports and expanded the concept with the creation of DREAM in 2004.
Morris brought the DREAM program to his alma mater Westchester High School, where he helped renovate the school’s weight room with new equipment and trains football, basketball, baseball and volleyball players free of charge. The DREAM training facility includes a sport-specific weight room, basketball gym and outdoor fields.
Morris and two other DREAM trainers utilize the local terrain, such as Dockweiler Beach in Playa del Rey and the Manhattan Beach sand dunes, to train the athletes and improve their skills.
Westchester High athletic director Brian Henderson, who knew Morris when he was a student at the school, said he has been “invaluable” with helping the various athletes.
“He has always been a good kid,” Henderson said of Morris. “He’s committed to Westchester and loves Westchester.
“He does whatever he can to help the students improve.”
Morris says DREAM provides athletes far more than just the chance to excel at sports because it teaches them skills that can be applied to everyday life, such as teamwork and commitment to a goal.
The program has received nothing but positive feedback from the athletes involved, Morris said.
Three years after Morris first developed DREAM, he says he would like to see the company “branch out” and continue to grow.
As a former athlete who refused to give up on his dream despite challenging obstacles, Morris says he is proud to help others reach theirs.
“It’s a great feeling to find an avenue to give back,” Morris said.
“If I’m helping other people succeed in life I’m happy.”