By Liz Johnston
Special to the Voice
Dominate the Day Foundation, a non-profit established to honor the life and legacy of West Haven resident Jordan W. Sebastian, hosted a free football camp for local athletes at Hopkins School in New Haven on Saturday, July 21.
Sebastian played Pop Warner with the West Haven Seahawks, the New Haven Middle School All-Star Team, Hopkins School, and The University of Rhode Island. After graduating, Sebastian taught and coached at St. Luke’s in New Canaan before returning to Hopkins as the Defensive Coordinator.
Sebastian and his cousin, Dante Brito, Jr. (co-founder of Dominate the Day Foundation), had long dreamed of starting an affordable football camp. Both Sebastian and Brito had attended many football camps and combine events when they were young and recognized that they’d had opportunities that others did not. They vowed to create such opportunities for others.
When Sebastian passed away in October, Brito (who played DB at Hamden Hall and Stonehill College) and Sebastian’s father, Craig, (former running back for SCSU and the Berlin Adler in Germany), knew they had to make that dream a reality. Sebastian’s family, along with the support of the entire Hopkins School community, hosted the inaugural camp on a perfectly sunny Saturday afternoon at Parr field, known as “The Pit”, on the Hopkins campus.
The camp was open to the first 100 middle schoolers who registered and was attended by athletes from many surrounding towns, and MA. During the camp athletes worked on combine drills, individual skill work, one-on-one, and 7-on-7 with the aid of Hopkins Head Coach, Tim Phipps, Hillhouse Head Coach, Reggie Lytle, Oxford Head Coach Joe Stochmal, Derrick Lewis of Bridgeport Central, Nicholas D’Angelo of Guilford High School, Ron Lacoint (former Hyde and SCSU coach), Dan Parody (Oxford), Courtney Sutherland (semi-pro player and coach) as well as Sebastian’s godfather, Dennis Wade, (former SCSU wide receiver).Al volunteered their time.
Avon Old Farm’s QB, Taisun Phomnachanh, (recently committed to Clemson), Central Connecticut’s Byron (BJ) Dickens and Boston College’s CJ Lewis were there to lend a hand. Sebastian’s former URI teammate Tarik Pusey, former Hopkins players Doug Wardlaw (UConn), Spencer Lockhart and Will Bagnall as well as former Hamden Hall player Alejandro Pabon-Rey were also there to share their talents.
Sebastian’s father Craig and three of his brothers: Brandon and Bryce Sebastian (Boston College) and Jalen Hoskie all spent the day coaching in honor of Jordan. Sebastian’s sister Brianna (WHHS) assisted, participated in combine drills and cheered for campers as they competed. Sebastian’s blended family and wide network of friends and teammates collaborated to bring his vision to life and to provide a great experience for local kids.
Dominate the Day Football Camp gave top awards to just a few of the talented athletes who were there. The overall MVP of the camp was Pearson Hill (West Haven) who excelled in offense, defense and the combine period; he also scored the only touchdown on his team in 7-on-7 portion and was a clear stand out. The award for top overall offensive player went to Champ Long (New Haven) who had the fastest 40 and the farthest broad jump. Long was poised in the pocket with great decision-making. He displayed the ability to make various throws to multiple receivers. The overall defensive player was Donovan Davis (West Haven) who made the game-winning pick six during the 7-on-7 period. The Relentless award, one that acknowledges the athlete with the most determination and grit, was given to Rakaigh Pettway (Bridgeport). The coach’s pick award went to Izaiah Smith (Stratford) who competed at a high level while playing with athletes 2-3 years older. And finally, Tyler Booker (New Haven) received The Dominator Award for the player who best embodied all the powerful qualities Sebastian possessed as a player and coach throughout his life.
Dominate the Day Foundation, in partnership with Hopkins School, plans to hold the camp each year in honor of Sebastian, and in keeping with the foundation’s mission to help young people become the absolute best version of themselves. Dominate the Day Foundation is also planning a free back-to-school event August and will offer tutoring and educational workshops to West Haven and New Haven students in the fall. More detailed information and applications will be available soon.To learn about upcoming events or support the foundation, visit www.dominatethedayfoundation.com.
Ed. Note: Liz Johnston is the mother of the late Jordan Sebastian and offered this recap of last week’s camp.