Caldwell sees a little of herself in young UCCS campers
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.
â€œIt was probably around 5 or 6-years old that I first attended camp,â€ said Caldwell. â€œBut was probably a special situation where they allowed me to come in (with the older girls).â€
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.
â€œBy having a 6- to 10-year old camp, we open it up to the youngest kids in town,â€ she said. â€œItâ€TMs nice to get these kids involved.â€
Itâ€TMs also rewarding. Included among these girls may be the next star play for Baylor â€" or perhaps even UCCS.
â€œWe have some really great little players,â€ said Caldwell. â€œOur 6-year olds are already dribbling with two balls.
â€œSome 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.â€
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