Blue Devil Fund

Chris Taylor, 2007 graduate of Calais High, loves basketball and he loves Calais; but he really loves combining the two! Here is a little background on Chris, his nonprofit idea, and how The Blue Devil Fund is giving back to the community.

From a young age, his father, Dr. George Taylor, Jr. (CHS Class of 1977), instilled a love for basketball in Chris that has only strengthened over time. For as long as anyone around Chris can recall, the game of basketball has been his passion and his ultimate goal was to work for a team in the NBA. 

“I’ve known Chris for 26 years. There has always been one constant in his life, and that’s basketball. Whether he was playing with the older kids during the summers, leading his team to back-to-back Maine State Titles in ’06 & ‘07, or even now with the Pacers, his drive to succeed on the court or on the business side of the sport has certainly been a pleasure to watch. I can’t wait to see what else his future holds,” reflects Blue Devil Fund Board Member and 2002 CHS graduate, Joe Footer. 

Chris is going into his fifth season working in Basketball Operations with the Indiana Pacers. 

While attending Emerson College in Boston, Chris was fortunate to gain a position with the team he grew up worshipping: the Boston Celtics. After graduating in 2011, he was given an opportunity to work in the NBA Developmental League (NBDL) with the Celtics’ affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. 

After a grueling interview process, Chris left the Red Claws, for an internship with the Indiana Pacers. “It was definitely tough, moving halfway across the country to a city where I didn’t know a soul, but I realized it was a chance I needed to take in order to show I was seriously committed to making a career in the Front Office of the NBA,” Chris says. 

After a few quick months, Chris was offered a full-time position in the Pacers Front Office. And ever since, he has been assisting in all aspects of Basketball Operations—dealing with all the behind-the-scene workings involving the team, scouts, coaching staff, and executives.  

And, his boss? The guy Chris (and probably every other basketball fan in New England and beyond) grew up idolizing: Celtics legend and one of the best players of all time, Pacers President of Basketball Operations, Mr. Larry Bird.

But, this article isn’t about a smalltown kid working towards achieving his lifelong dream and never looking back…because Chris has always looked back and never forgot his roots. That is why he founded The Blue Devil Fund.

The Blue Devil Fund is a not-for-profit organization, aimed at using the game of basketball as a catalyst to raise funds for Calais-area charities and create a community amongst former Lady Devil and Blue Devil basketball players.

“I have a tremendous sense of hometown pride. Ask anyone who’s associated with me now in Indiana, and I guarantee they would say I’m constantly talking about Downeast Maine. Because it was here, along with the strong values my family instilled in me, that gave a strong work ethic, an understanding of how important relationships are in life, and the sense that anything can be accomplished with the right mindset. It’s the fond memories and connection to our city that drove me to start The Blue Devil Fund; as a way to give back,” explains Chris. 

Officially founded in 2010, The Blue Devil Fund hosts its main fundraiser, the annual Alumni Basketball Classic at Calais High, held over famed International Homecoming Festival Weekend.

“I’d be lying if I said my initial intentions weren’t a bit selfish,” Chris says with a hearty laugh and genuine smile. “Whenever I have the chance to come home, I love to see as many people from the community as I possibly can. So I thought, what better way than to create an event around the sport loved by practically everyone in Calais, at a time when everyone is home visiting such as Festival, and it can all benefit charities? It’s a true win-win situation!” 

With that, the idea of taking alumni basketball games that had periodically been thrown together over the years and turning it into a fun-filled night of reminiscing about those high school basketball glory days and celebrating the strong Blue Devil camaraderie was born.

“The popularity of Alumni Classics has grown exponentially since we first started. That first year, we didn’t even have game shirts for the players,” Chris reminisces. “Now, we offer a game for both women and men alums, we’ve gained sponsorship from generous businesses in our area, we give away a great deal of prizes, and as a result, I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from the community on the event,” he continues.

When speaking with Chris, he constantly references the fact that in Calais, we are fortunate because our hometown has a true sense of community. No matter the situation, someone is always going to lend a helping hand. It is this feeling that led to the creation of The Blue Devil Fund. “Growing up here, if someone was in need or there was a job to do, there were always people in the community to give back. Through The Blue Devil Fund, we want to be able to take that same idea and help where we can,” Chris explains.

His association with the Pacers has presented him with additional chances to help the community through The Blue Devil Fund, not to mention ways to make the Alumni Classics even more enjoyable for fans in attendance. 

Remember that guy we told you is now his boss? He was nice enough to autograph a #33 Celtics jersey from his playing days in Boston that the Fund has framed and is raffling off. 

Raffle tickets are being sold for $1 each or six tickets for $5, and can be purchased at Calais Family Eye Care, St. Croix Country Club, Kendall’s Fine Jewelers, the International Motel and at the 2016 Alumni Classic. The winning ticket will be chosen at half time of the Blue Devil game on Thursday, August 4th (the winner does not need to be present to win). Imagine that, you could be the winner of an authentic autographed Larry Bird Celtics jersey for just $1!

Along with the Bird jersey, Chris has secured a plethora of autographed items from various Pacers players (like signed jerseys and game-worn sneakers), Pacers shirts and gear, and many other prizes that fans can win just by attending the games. 

There will be a DJ playing music to pump up the fans and players, 50/50 raffles, concessions, fun player competitions (such as the Jo’s Diner & Pizzeria 4-Point Shot for players)…oh, and did we mention there will be entertaining basketball to watch, too!

“Washington County is a hotbed for basketball, and we’ve been incredibly fortunate to have some very talented players on the hardwood for the Blue Devils over the years,” Chris says with enthusiasm. 

Many of the greats have suited up to play in the charity games over the years, and that list only continues to grow. You might recognize some of the names: Bobby Campbell, Lanna & Crystal (Shorey) Martin, Joe Footer, Ed & Jordan Leeman, JJ Frost, Joe Clark, Kelli Dow, Holly & Sam Bell, Brandon Tomah, Cal Shorey, Jennifer Pinnette, Erika (Severance) Lebel, Alex & Madison McVicar, Kyle Johnson, and many, many more Blue Devils from over the years! 

“For the past few years, we’ve prided ourselves on having participants that played for CHS from each decade starting in the 1970s,” Chris explains, “And I’m always trying to expand my Blue Devil network, so if there’s anyone out there that would like to be involved, please reach out to me at the game.”

It is an incredibly fun evening, centered around a sport we all love with the goal of helping the beloved community. All proceeds from the Alumni Classic will be donated to local charities. 

In years past, The Blue Devil Fund has made charitable donations to the Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry, Calais Benevolent Society,  St. Croix #1 Fire House Restoration Project, CHS Senior Classes, WQDY Turkey-A-Thon, Calais Pool Project, Lion’s Club Santa’s Helper program, and co-sponsored the Bouncin’ Blue Devils, just to name a few.

“I’d just like to thank everyone who has helped along the way: our generous sponsors, all the volunteers, the players, and most importantly, the fans from the community that continue to come out to support a great cause and help make the event a growing success year after year,” Chris says. 

For more information and to keep updated on the event and the Fund’s charitable efforts, visit The Blue Devil Fund’s facebook page (www.facebook.com/BlueDevilFund). And we hope to see you show your Blue Devil Pride and support the 2016 Alumni Basketball Classic!

The Blue Devil Fund’s slogan is, “Once A Blue Devil, Always A Blue Devil!”, and with the charity game’s continued growth, this statement proves to be true!

What: Blue Devil Alumni Basketball Classic

When: Thursday, August 4 (Lady Devils @ 5 PM, Blue Devils @ 6 PM)

Where: Calais High Gymnasium

Admission: $4 for Adults, $2 for Students

 

Why: Fun-filled evening for the entire family, with great prizes to be won & entertaining Blue Devil basketball—with all proceeds being donated to local charities!