Caldwell sees a little of herself in young UCCS campers

By Doug Fitzgerald published June 11, 2008

There may be a few future Jessika Caldwells running around at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Recreation Center this week.

Caldwell, the coach of the UCCS womenâ€TMs basketball team, is currently holding the first of her annual summer camps. Thirty campers, ranging in age from 6- to 10-years old, are honing their skills under the tutelage of Caldwell and seven other coaches, some of whom are current Mountain Lions basketball players. The camp runs from June 9-12 and goes from 9 a.m. to noon each day.

Caldwell, then known by her maiden name Stratton, was a true basketball prodigy. Already a legend in youth leagues, she went on to star at Coronado High School before heading to the NCAA Final Four as a starter for the Baylor Bears. After a year playing professionally in Europe, she was named womenâ€TMs basketball coach at UCCS prior to the 2005-06 season.

Her renown as a youngster allowed her to participate at an age at which many girls were excluded.

“It was probably around 5 or 6-years old that I first attended camp,” said Caldwell. “But was probably a special situation where they allowed me to come in (with the older girls).”

The benefit she got from that exposure stayed with Caldwell. She came to UCCS resolved to share it with a new generation of young players.

“By having a 6- to 10-year old camp, we open it up to the youngest kids in town,” she said. “Itâ€TMs nice to get these kids involved.”

Itâ€TMs also rewarding. Included among these girls may be the next star play for Baylor â€" or perhaps even UCCS.

“We have some really great little players,” said Caldwell. “Our 6-year olds are already dribbling with two balls.

“Some of these kids have been to camp twice and some who were in this camp last year will be in next weekâ€TMs camp as 11-year olds.”

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