• TJMS 3-30 w Practice Team12:37

Our departed Practice Team Coach (John McCray) wrote about the history:

The Practice Team originated in 2001 and officially began operating in 2002 with about 20 to 25 of my friends; I met on the first Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage in 2000.  On the first cruise, one of my coworkers in Miami invited me to come to Miami a few days before the cruise to hang out, party and we did.  

Later, I told about 20 to 25 friends I met on the first cruise about the fun and benefits from my coming in early for the cruise and hanging out.   They asked if they could come early and hang out with us the next year, 2001.   Then, I planned for 20 to 25 people to party before the cruise.  It turned out great!!  The only problem was that they told others how much fun they had and others wanted the same opportunity.  The numbers of people pre-cruise partying increased, and I was the only one that had everyone's contact information.  

These cruise friends started inviting other friends.  As I talked to my cruise friends to try to learn how they enjoyed hanging out, partying prior to the cruise and having fun, I got more information than I had anticipated.  Some told me how hard it was for them to stay awake during some of the shows that started at 1 and 2 AM on the ship.  As you may know or may have heard the “Tom Joyner party don’t stop”.  Some people told me they have not stayed up past 12 o'clock since the last cruise.   We understood that just as athletes practice before their best games, we needed to practice staying up past 12 midnight just before the cruise.   

The concept was that if we kept you up past 12 midnight the night prior to the cruise, the following nights and your body would have a better chance to be adjusted and you then would not be the one they put the spotlight on while sleeping in the concert!   Like all athletes, you should train and practice!   Even more so you need to warm up before you party so you won’t pull or break something.  You don’t want to get out there and hurt yourself trying to keep up. 

This is how we got our name "The Practice Team®" and I got the name" The Practice Coach"!!  We practice partying with a purpose!

As time advanced some of my friends had trouble finding and keeping cabin mates for a variety reasons no extra money, no more job, no more time off work, can’t get time off, unexpected bills, unexpected illness, surgery and more.  These situations were upsetting and difficult.   

As Practice Coach, I did my best to help folk realize that sometimes things just happen and we do not always have control over them or know the reason.  However, we might have other options if we enlisted support from the list of friends.  Many people agreed that if I emailed all our cruise friends someone might be that needed cabin mate or know someone who could be.

Again, as I had a list of everyone's email address it was logical for the Practice Coach to initiate a helpful process to help people find cabin mates.  Now, when I send out the emails everyone regarding the date, time and place for our practice party before the cruise I include in this same email the names of persons who need a cabin mate. This Service is now called Netmate or Netmating.

It's now 2017-18 and Netmating is getting more demanding as the need seems to grow and grow. In addition, we are adding more supportive services.

These other services include but are not limited to

  • (Telmate) Get someone to share Hotel expense

  • (AYGL) Are You Going List:  List of team Members attending an event who can share some expenses.

  • We set a meet and greet at each event so you are not by yourself when at an event.

  • Assist with last Minute sale of a spot or a cabin

  • Maintain an up-to-date Practice Team List and share it with all Members

  • Maintain a website to serve members  (http://www.practiceteam.com/)

  • Added a volunteer Practice Team Staff with Assistant Practice Coaches, and two Senior Advisors

  • Pre- and Post-Cruise Conference calls for all member and invited guests

  • Plan what is now The Practice Party

  • Applied for and maintain LLC status

  • Design Practice Team Tee Shirts each year

  • Plan on-ship Practice Team activities

As of now we have added more than 1700 Practice Team members and are still growing. We have been providing these services to our members without any fees, dues or other obligations. There is no other group or organization that offers these services.

Our motto is: 

John McCray