With the high school student-athletes out of school for the summer, there wasn’t a whole lot going on with them in June. But events took place in the area that were newsworthy - or sports worthy - in the month.
The 2011 WNBA Finals runners-up Atlanta Dream hosted a workout in Griffin High’s gym — The House — as part of its “Take the Show on the Road” tour in front of a happy group of people of all ages. Music was provided on the turntables by local 11-year-old “DJ Riven” and the Dream’s mascot “Star” provided the humor for the audience.
“We enjoy coming to different cities and having people get the chance to see us practice,” said Dream player Lindsey Harding, who didn’t practice as she was nursing an ankle injury. “We want to be role models for girls and boys and we love to sign autographs for everyone.”
The Dream started a serious practice session as the crowd looked on, thrilled to see a women’s professional basketball team in person.
“This is great for the community and I think more people should be involved in women’s sports,” said Frank Carr, who attended the event with his children Semaj, 17, Justin, 10 and Asia, 9. “We’re trying to get Asia into sports so one day she may doing this.”
The practice session lasted a bit over an hour, as the Dream worked on all their plays in preparation for their next game. Audience members cheered the Dream on as they made shot after shot in practice, counting the number of shots made until they missed. Twins Kayla and Jena Aikens, 12, were excited to see the Dream in person — they just attended the team’s last home game against the Connecticut Sun last Sunday. Both are rising seventh-graders at Rehobeth Road Middle and look forward to playing basketball next season for their school.
“This is great. The Atlanta Dream inspire me and make me want to be a better basketball player,” said Kayla. “I want to play basketball in college and in the pros.”
“I like seeing the Dream in person. I want to play basketball in middle and high school, but I plan to be either an actress or a writer when I get older,” said Jena, who is the defensive whiz while Kayla is the shooter.
Local high school basketball players Alexis Roberts of Griffin High and Jasmine Holland of Spalding High were also happy to see the Dream practice in person. They both said they received valuable lessons just by watching them play.
“It’s good to see the things they do in practice, especially the post players since that‘s the position I play,” said Roberts, a rising junior. “You can tell by the shots they are making that they practice alot.”
“I learned that you’ve got to anticipate the pass as a guard,” said Holland, a rising sophomore. “I also realized they put in a lot of hard work.”
After the practice session ended, the Dream’s head coach Marynell Meadors introduced herself and the Dream players to the audience. After a quick “hotshot” competition, the players ended the festivities by tossing T-shirts to the audience and signing autographs.
“This was a great event; I enjoyed it, the community enjoyed and I think my players even enjoyed it,” said Griffin High girls head coach Veronica Lee. “I am very pleased.”
Other noteworthy area events in the month of June:
*Spalding High School was the site for the FRE Sports High School Football Showcase Camp, which provided exposure for area high school players - some as young as freshmen - to college coaches in Georgia. Coaches came from all over the state to SHS to view these players run, throw and participate in position drills.
*Former Griffin High Star running back and Western Kentucky standout Bobby Rainey participated in the Baltimore Ravens minicamp, where he eventually made the active roster.
*The Griffin Gators swim team started competition and brought several first time athletes to meets across the state.