"Every kid deserves the opportunity to work hard toward their dreams."
"Using basketball to teach life skills is what I believe coaching is really about ."
I grew up on the south side of Tucson, Arizona to parents who worked long hard hours to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. We didn't have much money left over for extras. My little brother and I were latch key kids who learned early on how to be street smart. Never talk to strangers, don't walk home the same route at the same time, if someone says they were sent by your mom to pick you up make sure they know the secret password.
Living in Tucson meant we lived and breathed U of A basketball. I first picked up a basketball at recess trying to emulate a jump shot I saw local legend Sean Elliot make. On school teams from 5th-8th grade I was an average player. But I loved playing basketball. I found out that in High School they make cuts and considering I wasn't even one of the top 12 players from my middle school I knew it would be hard to make my high school team. My parents taught me early, if I wanted something, I had to work for it.
The summer before high school I played basketball six days a week. At my high school there was a free program to keep kids off the street. There were various activities offered that included an open gym. This is when I really began to develop my game. I played for hours a day (usually the only girl in the gym) playing against mostly older boys and men. When there weren't enough people for games, I was shooting. Being a shooter would prove to be a main strength of my game. All of my days in the gym caught the eye of a custodian, Leo, who introduced me to the girls coach at the high school. I was on my way.
All of my hard work paid off. My freshman year I ended up making the varsity team, but my new goal was to play Division I college basketball. I didn't have the opportunity to go to camps or play club ball. Instead, every summer I went back to that gym and worked. My senior year I was 1st Team All-Conference. I received a full scholarship to play at Pima CC where I started every game in my two years there. I gained some interest from smaller four year schools, but my dream had always been to play Division I ball. Not settling for less, I took on another challenge and walked-on to the team at NAU. I was pushed to a new level and went from bench warmer with not even a second of game time to starting 3 guard by wintertime.
Basketball has given me so much. I learned how to set and achieve goals, be disciplined, work hard, and never give up. My family may not have had the money to put into basketball training, but I was lucky because I had someone who always believed in me, my mom. Some kids aren't lucky enough to have a support system. I have spent my coaching career fighting for the underdog. I believe every kid deserves the opportunity to work hard toward their dreams. Without that open gym in the summer I don't think I would have even made my high school team freshman year and never would have played collegiately. All I needed was the chance to work hard and prove myself. My goal is to give that chance to as many kids as possible.
I was born and raised in Indiana where basketball is more a way of life than a sport. More a piece of who you are than a game. A glue that binds communities together. Just as world religions have their sacred places, Hoosier gymnasiums are hallowed grounds.
To further the juxtaposition of religion and sport, basketball can be used as a platform to teach a variety of important lessons. That aspect of the game drew me to coaching in the first place and continues to stoke the fire inside of me. Using basketball to teach confidence, respect, integrity, sportsmanship, teamwork, perseverance, and so many other life skills is what I believe coaching is really about.
Most people who enter the teaching profession have some deep seeded reason that they pursue a career in education. Mine was simple. I wanted to invest in our youth as a coach. And I did. I have been lucky enough to coach teams at every level from elementary to college.
On my journey as a teacher in Title I elementary schools I began noticing a common theme that weighed heavy on my heart.
I have engaged with an incredible amount of kids who have exceptional potential. These are young people who would grow up to change the world. They would be leaders, mentors, collaborators, developers, etc. positioned in extremely important roles in our society, but due to their lack of access to the programs and resources that could help them cultivate and sharpen their skills they are not able to follow a path that allows their greatness shine. The most frustrating part of seeing these young people struggle was knowing that their lack of access to programs and resources had nothing to do with their character. It had everything to do with the socioeconomic situation they had been born into; an aspect of their life that they had no control over.
I am truly blessed to be able to team up with the amazing Keiko Yoshimine to bring these kids the exact type of opportunity that many of them unfortunately miss out on through no fault of their own. ONE10 Camps, Inc., (and the help of generous sponsors and donors like yourself) youth athletes from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds will receive the opportunity to attend free camps and clinics that not only teach and hone basketball skills, but infuse those important life skills that are paramount in becoming a successful and good human being.