Sporting Culture

Five Stylemakers at the Top of Their Game

Steven Hempel. produced and styled by michelle AviƱa. Photography Jack Thompson.   |  Photos by Warren Creavalle, grand-standing at BBVA Compass Stadium. Warren is wearing APC Jeans, at The Classroom., Ameer Jumbahoy at Houston Polo Club. Ameer is wearing Rye 51 shirt, Rick Owens pants and boots, at Traffic, Dallas., Chandler Pasons at entry to court, Toyota Center. Chandler is wearing shirt by Gant Rugger and jeans by Naked and Famous, at The Classroom; shoes by Deltoro, at deltoro.com., Chris Myers, at Reliant Stadium. Chris is wearing a suit and tie by Festari., Diana Lopez, at Lopez Taekwondo Academy, Memorial. Diana is wearing Balmain dress and booties, at Sloan/Hall.
Posted:
December 18, 2013

Grooming by Tracie Burke, Cutloose Hair Salon and hair/makeup by Makeup by Jules. 

 

Ameer Jumbahoy, 24 

International Polo Player 

Ameer Jumbahoy is an internationally recognized polo player and philanthropist. The recent Rice University grad returned to his family in Singapore this summer, but during his time in Houston, Jumbahoy launched a number of charitable initiatives while juggling academics and training, as well as promoting the sport of polo. 

Polo in Houston. I’ve seen it grow from strength to strength, with many more people coming to watch games on Sunday than ever before. Today, Houston is the largest club in America [since its merger with the Brookshire Polo Club in 2011], and it’s such an honor to be a part of it. I‘ve never been to a club that is so well run and organized; everyone can enjoy polo from a through-train polo school all the way up to high-goal level, and the club embraces anyone who wants to try the sport. On the democratization of polo. This is a term that I’ve borrowed from my friend and mentor, Nacho Figueras. When we talk about democratization, we mean that we want polo to be more accessible to people. Polo has all the right elements for people to enjoy as a spectator sport. It used to have a massive following, with tens of thousands of people watching, and I see no reason why it can’t recoup that same amount of passion from the public. 

Art, film, literature? I was actually a professional actor on stage and TV in Singapore until I was about 12 years old and, today, am part of the investment group in the same company that managed my acting career in Singapore. I’m a big supporter of the arts, as each artistic medium acts as an escape, a journey away from our daily lives.  

Charitable works. After my father and aunt were diagnosed with cancer in 2010, my mission was to raise social awareness for causes that I believe in. They are both fine today, but my desire to make a difference through the sport remains. Many of the associations I have worked with have a focus on cancer research and awareness, as well as mentorship for kids from underprivileged areas. I really like working with kids because they’re honest; if you’ve scored a good goal in a game, they’ll tell you, and they’ll also tell you if they didn’t like something. They have such a positive outlook on things, and as an athlete, that same attitude inspires me on the field. It’s the next generation of kids who are going to do amazing things for our world, and it’s so important that they be given the opportunities to do so. Polo has taken me around the world to raise social awareness, from Pakistan to Malaysia and, of course, the U.S.

 

Chandler Parsons, 24

Small Forward, Houston Rockets, NBA

Chandler Parsons is now in his third season with the Houston Rockets. While playing collegiately at University of Florida, he was named SEC Player of the Year and helped lead his team to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. This rising star in the NBA was invited to join the USA Basketball Select Team and has a shot at making the USA Olympic team that will compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. 

On living in Houston. Houston is a great place to live. I really like the South; having grown up outside of Orlando, I appreciate southern hospitality. Houston is a great sports town — you have four professional teams and lots of things to do. I see a lot of enthusiasm in the city, and people are excited to be here.

Tell us about your interests. I love sports. When I’m not playing basketball, I’m usually watching it. ESPN plays pretty much 24 hours a day at my home. I also enjoy playing tennis and golf and just staying active.

Free time. Honestly, I don’t get a lot of free time. I spend most days practicing, training and studying film. I enjoy visiting with my family — my parents come to town every month. And I occasionally get away to the to do a little shopping.

Thoughts about your teammates. We’re really close. We travel, eat and do everything together. Most of us are the same age; we are all young players who share a lot of similar interests. And we’re not just teammates but friends as well. All the guys have high character, and we’ve developed a really close bond with each other.

On fans and Twitter. Our fans are the best. They really support the team, and I love being as accessible as I can. I’m active on Twitter (@ChandlerParsons), which I started my senior season in college. It’s a great way to connect and get to know people that you otherwise would never have an opportunity to.

Charitable works. I’ll be starting a charity next year. In the meantime, I do lots of school visits with both the Rockets and NBA and traveled to Argentina this summer for Basketball without Borders. In the off-season, I work with children through the Orlando Hoops summer camps. 

 

Warren Creavalle, 23

Fullback, Houston Dynamo, Major League Soccer

Brooklyn-born, Atlanta-reared Warren Creavalle is a versatile midfielder for the Houston Dynamo. He entered the sport at age four and played collegiately for both Furman University and Central Florida before being drafted by the Dynamo in the MLS draft in 2012.

Soccer heroes. Growing up, I always liked Roberto Carlos [Brazilian fullback and veteran of three World Cups]. I liked the impact he made on the field as a scoring threat from the outside back position.

On being a young player. It was a great feeling to join the team; it’s been a lifelong goal to play soccer professionally. Many of my teammates, from veterans that have been established in the league to younger players who were in a similar position, have helped make my transition into the league a relatively smooth one.

Goals. The team goal is obviously to make another deep run into the playoffs and ultimately win a championship. Personally, I just want to keep progressing and contributing more and more to the team.

International play and the MLS. I do have aspirations for international play, whether it’s with the United States, Guyana or Grenada. Football in the United States is definitely on the upswing. The popularity and interest in the sport are growing, coupled with the expansion of the MLS. It’s definitely not where we want the sport to be, relative to others in the world, but we’re making steady progress towards it.

Something unexpected. To be honest, there’s not so much that would be unexpected, though I am a bit of a night owl. While at Furman [University], my teammate Chris Klute (now of the Colorado Rapids) would go to the game field at 2 am to train. 

 

Diana Lopez, 29 

Team USA, TaeKwonDo

World champion and Olympic bronze medalist Diana Lopez is a Houston native who attended Kempner High School in Sugar Land and is a veteran of more than 20 years of competition in taekwondo. She trains and teaches at the family academy, Lopez Taekwondo Academy, and is trained by her brother, Olympic coach Jean Lopez. Recently married to Houston Rockets strength coach Joe Rogowski, she discusses life as an Olympic athlete.

Your first tournament. My first tournament was when I was seven at the Junior Olympics. When you are that young, you don’t actually know what you’re getting yourself into. I ended up winning with my oldest brother, Jean, in my coach’s chair.

On becoming an Olympian. To become an Olympic athlete, you have to sacrifice a lot of your social life. You dedicate your mind, body and soul to this dream. You have to be a professional in every sense of the word. What you eat, how you train and how you mentally prepare plays a big part in becoming an Olympic athlete.

The challenges faced by Olympic athletes. We see the Olympics take place every four years, but most don’t see the struggles and dedication it takes to get there. I just missed making the 2004 Athens games, and it was a huge disappointment and low point in my athletic career. But having a support system made it possible for me to bounce back and come back even stronger. Being an Olympic athlete can also be challenging financially. Unlike many other countries, Team USA athletes are not subsidized by the government. This is another sacrifice that you know you must make to be able to compete.

On representing America. America is the best country in the world. It has given our family (my parents emigrated from Nicaragua) the opportunity to flourish. Being on the first-place podium and seeing your flag raised above the others and hearing the national anthem playing is one of the best feelings in the world.

Defining moments. Travelling internationally to Turkey at the age of 14 for the junior worlds and coming home with a gold medal.

Fitness tip. Rule number one: Don’t overeat. And just try to have fun working out and trying new things that you enjoy.

 

Chris Myers, 31 

Center, Houston Texans, NFL

Chris Myers is an all-pro center for the Houston Texans and was a member of the University of Miami national championship team in 2001. Drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 2005 NFL Draft, he joined the Texans via trade in 2008.

Preparing for a season. We prepare in two ways. The first is our off-season work as a team, work in the weight room, conditioning and OTAs that help build team chemistry. The second is the work we do as individuals. If you can be successful on both levels, you’re in great shape for the coming season.

Time away from football. Now that I am married with kids, our family spends most of the off-season here in Houston. I take a few weeks away from football, but then I’m back to training at Hanks Gym in Bellaire. 

On family. We have two daughters, Makenna (3) and Cailin (2), and a son, Keane (7 months). We live in Houston most of the time and spend the summer months in South Jersey at the beach. There’s a fine balance to home and work, and that’s where my wife, Jenny, comes in. She’s the best mother and wife in the world, and she allows me focus on my job when needed.
 
Charitable works. I work very closely with Impact Player Partners and its annual weekend in Houston, Impact a Hero. They’re dedicated to recognizing and thanking the wounded veterans that have served and still serve our country. It’s something that is bigger than you and I, and I really believe this is such an important group to recognize.progressing and contributing more and more to the team.

Greatest team accomplishment. Winning the National Championship at the University of Miami in 2001. There’s no better feeling than being the best team of any sport. The game of football is such a team sport, and to be able to come together for one purpose is the ultimate sacrifice.


 

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