UT head coach Tricia Cullop shows the girls how to cheer in a huddle during Girls Basketball Skills Camp at the University of Toledo’s Health Education Center.
THE BLADE/LORI KING
Janelle Reed-Lewis wanted her basketball camp participants to come away with one thing Saturday: BEEF.
The University of Toledo Rockets women’s basketball guard said being an effective shooter comes from balance, eye contact, elbow position, and follow-through. Ms. Reed-Lewis was one of six players from the team — along with Rockets women’s head coach Tricia Cullop — who volunteered time at Toledo Community Recreation 2014 Girls Basketball Skill Camp.
“I’m someone that likes to give back,” she said. “This opportunity is not given to everyone.”
Jan Scotland, founder and director of the program, said his goal is to make sure all girls have the same opportunities as Ms. Reed-Lewis did when she was young. The lack of girls basketball teams and leagues in the Toledo area is what prompted him to start the free camp, which will continue at 10 a.m. every Saturday at the Believe Center, 1 Aurora Gonzalez Drive, through March. The program is open to girls in the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades.
“Girls have stopped playing youth sports,” he said. “The number of teams playing has dropped to where you don’t have leagues anymore.”
Being a part of a group sport keeps children out of trouble and instills teamwork and confidence in them, Mr. Scotland said. It keeps them away from gangs, drugs, and trouble, he added.
This program is operated in conjunction with Toledo Public Schools, UT, Owens Community College, and the city of Toledo.
Taylor Diggins, a 12-year-old Toledo resident, said she came to the camp because she wanted to sharpen her basketball skills with the best players in the area.
“I wanted to learn how they made it,” she said, adding that it’s her dream to play basketball for the University of Toledo.
Taylor’s mother, Sharonda Diggins, said she’s happy her daughter has taken an interest in basketball because the skills she learns on the court can translate into the classroom.
“It helps with self-esteem and teaches her to play a team sport while enhancing her ability to get along with others in a group to work for a common goal,” she said.
Guiding the eight girls who participated in Saturday’s event, Ms. Cullop shouted praise from the court as they learned how to dribble and maintain control of the ball.
Coach Cullop said she was happy to volunteer her time and bring some of her players along. The UT coach and players will be at some of the future Saturday clinics, schedule permitting.
“Anytime we get asked by someone from the community to help, we’re more than willing,” she said. “It’s fun for our players to teach the things we’re trying to teach them.
“It’s a win-win.”
Kris Turner can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6103.