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The Voice of the Black Community


Emphasis on girls’ hoop dreams
Former WNBA player Rhonda Mapp hosts camp at Vance High
Published Wednesday, June 9, 2010 11:18 am
by Herbert L. White

Rhonda Mapp (left), who won a WNBA championship with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001, will share her knowledge of the game at a girls’ basketball camp June 14-18 at Vance High. Mapp, a former Charlotte Sting standout, grew up in Asheville.

Rhonda Mapp knows something about the power of giving through basketball. Her father, Kenneth, taught young Rhonda the game in Asheville, just like he did for many of the kids in their neighborhood.

“My father was a basketball coach, but he was also a father figure for kids who didn’t have fathers, so I had to share,” Mapp, 40, said. “He would open the gym on the weekends, so his friends would be in one gym playing pickup and then he’d open the other gym for us to be running around. I’d watch my father play, and then after he finished, he’d work with me. After that, I slept, ate and drank basketball.”

Mapp, a former Charlotte Sting standout and founder of the nonprofit Follow Your Dreams Inc., is sharing her basketball knowledge with kids. She expects 150 girls to participate in her June 14-18 camp at Vance High, including 100 on scholarships. Campers range in age from 10 to high school seniors.

“I started my nonprofit organization back in 1998 and one of the reasons I did it was because when I played for the Sting, I would go out and do public speaking engagements. So when (Sting teammates) Dawn (Staley) and Tracy (Reid) came, they started getting more appearances, and … that’s what gave me the idea to come up with my own nonprofit.”

Mapp, who spent seven WNBA seasons with Charlotte and Los Angeles, is reaching out specifically to girls by providing opportunities to learn skills in a setting provided specifically for them.

“I love kids and I have a passion for them, so I decided to focus on young girls,” Mapp said. “A lot of professional athletes do stuff for boys and no one is doing too much for girls. We’re trying to promote self-esteem.”

The camp is signing players who are involved with AAU and high school basketball programs. Former and current college coaches will lead drills. The goal is to provide a platform for athletes to showcase their skills in front of coaches.

“The camp will be used to promote their talents,” Mapp said.

Basketball won’t be the only subject. Life skills from goal setting and picking a college to time management will be part of the curriculum.
“Since the WNBA started in ’97, I think that’s motivated a lot of girls to go out and play basketball,” Mapp said. “I think teen pregnancy rate has dropped because a lot of girls can see there is hope after college.”

Mapp, who won a WNBA championship with Los Angeles in 2001, played 13 professional seasons, including time in leagues in Spain, Italy, France, Turkey, Israel and Korea. As an international player, she’s looking to teach the game from a global perspective.

“Because of my experiences, I look at basketball in a different light,” she said. “I like to focus more on life skills, your attitude and skill development. Having played overseas versus a college coach… I have the living experience in front of their face.”

To register for the camp, call (704) 930-9900.

On the Net:
Follow Your Dreams camp


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