Think cricket's just for stodgy British types? Think again.
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DICK'S Sporting Goods

When Neeraj Kher came to live in the United States, he thought he’d made a mistake. He couldn’t find any cricket.

He had always been a cricket player. Born in New Delhi, India, he had learned the sport young, and then lived in two other cricket-playing countries, Australia and England.

But then, he settled in Newport, New Jersey, in 2011 for work and to be closer to his sister.


“The first year here I almost went into depression,” Kher says. He thought, “I can’t live here. I have to go back to England or Australia.”

Luckily, one day while driving past a Target store, he saw a man “wearing whites” — traditional cricket-playing clothing. Kher pulled over and approached the man to ask where he’d played cricket that day.

Kher was surprised to learn there was a massive cricket organization serving the greater New York metro area called the Commonwealth Cricket League.

A group of Commonwealth Cricket League members. Photo courtesy of Columbia Cricket Club.

The Commonwealth Cricket League has more than 70 teams with players as diverse as the city and its outlying area.

But then again, perhaps it’s not actually that strange to think the sport would be beloved across the tri-state area. After all, cricket is played in more than a hundred different countries, and that section of the Northeast is home to well over 5 million immigrants.

Kher quickly began playing for the nearby Hoboken Cricket Club, a team in the CCL. And today, he serves as the team’s vice president, working side-by-side with its founder and president Darragh Dempsey, an Irishman.

“What I really like about the CCL is that you don’t have to be from a specific background to play,” says Kher.

League games give people a chance to become friends with players, their families, and fans from all around the world.

According to Kher, there are other cricket leagues in the area that only cater to people from individual countries, aimed at strengthening bonds within their particular immigrant communities. But in the CCL, “As long as you have 11 players who are committed ... you can play in the league,” he says.

The players set a beautiful tone of inclusion — willing to put aside bitter sports-based rivalries originating in their respective homelands.

Kher and fellow teammate hold a Last Man Stands trophy for cricket. Photo via Kher.

“Given that I’m from India, we have a huge rivalry with Pakistan,” Kher says. On the field of play, Kher admits those in the CCL are highly competitive, but off the field, he says, “there’s no anger, or animosity; there’s no turf war, nothing like that.”

That said, cricket has faced challenges catching on in the majority of the United States.

Traditional cricket games can span three to five days, though there’s a shorter version where games last about six hours. Such lengthy gameplay can make it virtually impossible for working-class people to get into cricket, even though less equipment is required for a contest, compared to the likes of hockey or golf.

Moreover, the weather experienced by much of the U.S. means cricket can’t be played year-round, which obviously isn’t the case in the warmer, cricket-crazed regions across Africa and Southeast Asia.

Still, the highly inclusive CCL is growing, and many in the league are taking action to expand it further to ensure its future.

Kher's team on a trip to Guyana. Photo via Kher.

Kher’s Hoboken Cricket Club has done local outreach and set up camps where children can learn the sport. He’s sure that there will be interest in the sport, even with communities that have had less exposure to it, like the local Hispanic community.

“We want to send invites to local baseball clubs, so they can come, see the game, and learn the game,” Kher says. Like many others, he believes baseball enthusiasts might find joy in cricket, as the two sports share similar characteristics.

Cricket itself is also evolving, becoming far more exciting than ever. Over the course of the past decade, an even shorter version of cricket — called T20 — has taken hold, with games lasting about as long as a baseball game. The contests are action-packed, with players taking more risks with fewer opportunities to score. Some speculate this incarnation could help cricket gain greater fandom in the U.S., offering opportunities for cultures once separated by oceans to find common ground.

A day at the cricket field can be enjoyed by anyone who loves sports, no matter their cultural background.

Members of CCL hanging out on the field. Photo courtesy of Columbia Cricket Club.

The feel-good atmosphere is built on traditions reminiscent of those at football, baseball, or soccer games. Barbecue and all sorts of food and drinks are staples at cricket games — some of which have built-in breaks for chowing down and socializing.

So if you ever stumble upon a game of cricket, chances are you’ll be treated to a fun, educational experience that was once nonexistent in America. And if you run into an enthusiastic player and fan like Kher, you’ll no doubt leave the field with your curiosity peaked.

Dicks Sporting Goods - Cricket

All over the world, people are connecting over this sport.

Posted by Upworthy on Friday, February 23, 2018

This story was produced as part of a campaign called "17 Days" with DICK'S Sporting Goods. These stories aim to shine a light on real occurrences of sports bringing people together.

Correction 2/28/2018: Photo captions have been updated to correct identification.

Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves
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It can be expensive to have a pet. It's possible to spend between $250 to $700 a year on food for a dog and around $120-$500 on food for a cat. But of course, most of us don't think twice about the expense: having a pet is worth it because of the company animals provide.

But for some, this expense is hard to keep up, no matter how much you adore your fur baby. And that's why Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves decided to help.

Kenneth had seen a man scraping together change in a store to buy pet food, so he offered to buy the man some extra pet food. Still, later that night he couldn't stop thinking about the experience — he worried the man wasn't just struggling to pay for pet food, but food for himself, too.

So he went home and told his wife — and immediately, they both knew they needed to do something. So, in December 2020, they converted a farm stand into a take-what-you-need, leave-what-you-can Pet Food pantry.

"A lot of people would have watched that man count out change to buy pet food. Some may have helped him out like my husband did," Jill says. "A few may have thought about it afterward. But, only someone like Kenny would turn that experience into what we have today."

"If it weren't for his generous spirit and his penchant for a plan, the pantry would never have been born," she adds.

A man with sunglasses hands a box of cat food to a woman smiling Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves

At first, the couple started the pet food pantry with a couple hundred dollars of pet food they bought themselves. And to make sure people knew about the pantry, they set up a Facebook page for the pantry, then went to other Facebook groups, such as a "Buy Nothing group," and shared what they were doing.

"When we started, we weren't even sure people would use us," Jill says. "At best, we were hoping to be able to provide enough to help people get through the holidays."

But, thanks to their page and word of mouth, news spread about what they were doing, and the donations of more pet food started flooding in, too. Before long, they were coming home to stacks of food — and within a couple of months, the pantry was full.

Yellow post-it note with handwritten note that reads: "Hi, I read your story on Facebook. Here is a small donation to help. I have a 3-year-old yellow lab who I adore. I hope this helps someone in need. Merry Christmas. Meredith" Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves

"The pounds of food we have gone through is well, well, well into the thousands," Jill says. "The orders from our Amazon Wish List alone include several hundred pounds of dry food, a couple of hundred cases of canned food, and thousands of treats and toys. But, that does not even take into account the hundreds of drop-offs, online orders, and monetary donations we have received."

They also got many 'Thank you notes' from the people they helped.

"I would like to thank you for helping us feed our fur babies," one note read. "My husband and I recently lost our jobs, and my husband [will] hopefully [find] a new one. We are just waiting for a call."

Another read: "I just need to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I haven't worked in over a month with a two-year-old at home. Dad brings in about $300/week. From the pandemic to Christmas, it has been tough. But with the help of beautiful people like you, my fur baby can now eat a little bit longer, and my heart is happy."

Jill says that she thinks the fact that the pet pantry is a farm stand helps people feel better.

A woman holding a small black dog and looking at the camera is greeted by Jill Gonsalves Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves

"When we first started this, someone who visited us mentioned how it made them feel good to be able to browse without feeling like they were being watched," she says. "So, it's been important to us to maintain that integrity."

Jill and Kenneth aren't sure how many people they've helped so far, but they know that their pet food pantry is doing what they hoped it would. "The pet owners who visit us, much like donations, come in ebbs and flows," Jill says. "We have some regulars who have been with us since the beginning. We also have some people that come a few times, and we never see again."

"Our hope is that they used us while they were in a tough spot, but they don't need us anymore. In a funny way, the greatest thing would be if no one needed us anymore."


Today, the Acushnet Pet Pantry is still going strong, but its stock is running low. If you want to help out, visit their Facebook page for updates and to find ways to donate.

Jamie Costa in ROBIN Test Footage Scene.

I think we can all agree, the loss of Robin Williams is still one that just hurts. He had an otherworldly type of quirkiness and charm that is simply irreplaceable. Not to mention a warmth that was like no other.

Luckily, we get to have one more viewing opportunity. One that feels remarkably like watching Williams on screen again. All thanks to a fellow comedian.

Jamie Costa, like Williams, is a jack-of-all-trades in the performing world. His bio describes him as an actor, director, producer, writer, voice actor, filmmaker, comedian and—most important for this story—a very talented impressionist. Though he embodies many well-known characters, Costa's claim to fame is his uncanny rendition of Robin Williams.

It's easy to see why. The actor not only bears an eerie physical resemblance to the late comedian, but perfectly matches his (unique) vocal tone to a tee.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!