Former Miami Hurricanes players try their hand at jai alai

MIAMI (WSVN) - Some former Miami Hurricanes football players have chosen to step into the world of jai alai.

Becoming professional jai alai players may result in a better payday for former Canes like Nate Brooks.

“Now, the Canes, we gonna make this sport jai alai on steroids,” said Brooks.

Jai alai dates back to the 14th century in Spain. The ball can sometimes come off the wall at 100 miles per hour.

“It’s not no joke,” said former Canes quarterback Kenny Kelly. “I think the first week they let it be known early that this isn’t a cake walk. Going through conditioning tests and just coming out here as you can see — it’s some work.”

Kelly, Brooks and former Canes defensive end Baraka Atkins
are gearing up for the jai alai season on July 1 at the fronton in Magic City Casino.

Once the season begins, professional jai alai players will get a base salary plus potential money from a $300,000 pot based on their game results.

“It’s a little source of income, and we’re also helping these guys as far as putting the sport back on the map in Miami,” said Atkins. “The jai alai sport was very prominent and followed by a lot of people in Miami and it kinda died down over the years. So we’re seeing if we can breathe some life into the dragon.”

Juan Ramon Arrasate is in charge of teaching the three former Canes, who was once considered among the best jai alai players in the world.

“These guys are really good athletes,” said Arrasate. “So far, we started about a month and a half ago and I’m impressed with how they play. I don’t know how far they’re going to go, but I’m willing to teach them as much as I can.”

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