Coahoma Women’s Basketball Kids Camp brings coaches, athletes, community together for day of fun

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By Josh Troy

Clarksdale Advocate

Having fun was the focus at the Coahoma Women’s Basketball Kids Camp on Wednesday morning. Coahoma Community College women’s basketball coach Shanae Williams and assistant coach Quinton Pippen led the camp for first through sixth-grade boys and girls in the school’s gym, The Pinnacle. Athletes from the Lady Tigers roster and older kids from Lee Academy helped out.

A little more than 20 children attended the camp, and the majority were from the Clarksdale area. They learned skills such as dribbling, ball handling, shooting, and defense. Some of the activities were five-on-five games, three minutes at a time, and obstacle course races where they had to use some of the skills they learned.

“I think it went exceptional,” Williams said. “The kids had great attitudes; they had fun. It’s something that we really put a lot of emphasis on. I think that our student-athletes, our women’s basketball players, did a phenomenal job keeping the kids engaged and encouraged, just kept them with a positive atmosphere.”

Williams said the kids gained a lot of confidence, and having camps will help build a rapport with the community. “We said to them at the end that this was Coach Pippen and I’s first annual kids camp, and we’re going to continue to do things like this,” Williams said. Pippen expressed similar sentiments. “Our biggest emphasis today was just having fun,” he said. “We’re just trying to touch into the community so the kids and parents know our faces and our kids’ faces. They’ll see the campus and what the gym looks like, and, hopefully, they will come back out to support us.”

While having fun, Pippen said the kids were able to gain confidence on the court. “They can be a little competitive, have fun with each other, their teammates, and the opposite team,” he said.

The Lady Tigers coaching staff was hired in June, but their athletes are already feeling the team chemistry. That carried over to the camp on Wednesday. “They encourage,” sophomore shooting guard Janiya Jones, who attended DeSoto Central High School, said about the new coaching staff. “They will be there for you. They motivate you a lot.”

Jones enjoyed being at the camp with her teammates. “We’re all working here,” she said. “We’re all motivating the kids. We’re all sticking together to make sure they get better and have fun.” Jones said the biggest strength elementary school kids have on the court is dribbling, and the biggest weakness is shooting. “They don’t have enough strength to shoot a far distance,” Jones said. “They just throw it up.”

Jones said it is important for younger kids to keep practicing shooting with the correct form, even when they do not have much strength.

Sharia Davis, a freshman shooting guard from Cleveland Central High School, earned a spot on the Lady Tigers after a recent tryout Williams and Pippen organized. However, Davis was familiar with the CCC basketball program. “I came and watched them play a few games,” said Davis, adding she always saw the team “winning and being a family.”

Davis enjoys playing for her new coaches. “I enjoy my coaches the most,” she said. “They’re very encouraging and motivating. Everybody feels like family.”

At the camp, Davis said most of the kids were competitive, but some needed to do a better job of paying attention. She believed the biggest strength the kids had was shooting, and the biggest weakness was dribbling.

Avery Ruscoe, 11, a sixth-grader at St. Elizabeth Catholic School, was Williams’ PE student at Lee Academy several years ago. She continued to learn from Williams at the camp. “I’ve learned a bunch of things, a bunch of skills,” Ruscoe said. “It’s been very fun.”

Ruscoe said she enjoyed talking one-on-one with coaches. “They’re very encouraging and confident about everyone,” she said.

Chance Primer, 8, a third-grader at Hope Sullivan Elementary School in Southaven, has family in Coahoma County and attended the camp. “I just play basketball,” he said. Primer said he learned “dribbling, shooting, passing,” and enjoyed “tapping the court.”

Both Ruscoe and Primer said their goal is to play basketball for CCC one day.

Cash Moore, 12, a seventh-grader at Lee Academy, assisted the coaches with the camp. He is also a small forward on the AAU basketball team, the Mississippi Delta Elite out of Clarksdale.

Moore assisted former Lady Tigers coach Stephanie Murphy during her five seasons leading the program. “I’ve been here for five years since Coach Murphy was here,” Moore said. “I’ve always helped her and the team out by doing the scoreboard, getting balls and setting up. It’s just really been a great time when I came here. I’m always happy. It’s just my happy place.”

Moore said the camp ran smoothly and talked about areas where he needed to improve in elementary school. “I had some bad habits about shooting, and I’ve gotten a lot better at that. I used to not be able to dribble a lot,” he said. “I’m better at dribbling now. Everybody has to work on things, but a lot of these kids are really good.”

Williams and Pippen will be hosting another camp in September, and the goal is to have 50 participants. “Follow us more on all our social media outlets, just learn more about our staff, our girls, and be on the lookout,” Williams said. “Whatever it takes, that’s our team logo. We’ve got some gear, so be on the lookout for that to support our student-athletes.”

Carol Brooks, the athletics administrative assistant at CCC, helped get breakfast and lunch for the campers on Wednesday, and Kenoy’s made the T-shirts. Other people in the community also provided support. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” Williams said. “You all didn’t have to do it, but we appreciate the support and the love that you’ve shown thus far.”

Pippen also expressed gratitude. “We just want to say thank you to everybody that helped, everybody that shared our post on Facebook and all the social media sites, all the people that reached out and donated,” he said. “To all the parents that brought their kids, we just want to say thank you.”

More information about the Lady Tigers and upcoming camps can be found at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100092982177983, https://twitter.com/cccladyhoops, and https://www.instagram.com/cccladytigerswbb/.

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