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“They have a safe space here.” Mavs Host Inaugural All-Girls Hoop Camp

Sports Editor

Trees can grow in a crowded forest. But young girls need to bloom in a a safer, smaller environment that honors who they are and allows them to blossom at their rate.

The Mavs Academy understand that and with young girls and their mental and physical well-being in mind, recently launched the Inaugural All-Girls Hoop Camp, in coordination with GEM (Girls Empowered by Mavericks).

The first week-long camp – they’ll be more – was held at Duncanville Field House earlier this month and offered basketball fundamental training for girls learning new skills and drills as well as sessions on the program’s five pillars; education, financial literacy, physical health, mental health and sports.

“This is a camp that is designed with them in mind,” said Ronard Patton, Mavs Basketball Academy Manager. “They have a safe space here and they have complete empowerment. They don’t have to be in a poistion to where they have to shy away.

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“That is one of the things we noticed in our co-ed hoop camps that probably some of the  girls wouldn’t be or feel as empowered to go out and try to be their best and to give it their all,” Patton said. “We have excellent coaches who pour into them every morning, give them words of affirmation and sit around and talk about different values and what it means to be beautiful on the inside and the outside.

GEMs playing basketball

“We teach them how important character and integry is and how much value as girls they bring to our world so they can grow up knowing that and not have to fight for it once they become young adults.”

Patton said the camp name – GEMS – is very fitting for each and every camper. “Our  girls are gems, they are special, they ae prized possessions. This is a very special moment and we are trying to do something that necessarily hasn’t been done. We want to lead the way in the NBA and hopefully just be able to help and assit and develop girls all across the metroplex.”

Dallas Mavericks Business Operations Manager Lisa Byrd said GEM camps “are all about inspiring young ladies to be their best selves. We want to support these young ladies throughout their lives, not just in basketball but in everything they do to build character and values.”

“This is a very important program that is geared toward building confidence and letting them know there are women that look like them and they can do and be anything they want to be in life” Byrd said. “The important thing too is uplifiting these female role models in front of them – not just female – but African Americans, Hispanic, Aisan, a cultural diverse group of women who can model for them. So that’s really important to us.”

The camper’s first guest speaker was Gail O’ Bannon,  the Mavs’ Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

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“We talked to the girls about values, encouraged them and inspired them to continue their  pursuits in life,” O’Bannon said. “In our campus they learn abou courage, confidence, how to be a leader…all of those qualities that are important especially in our world today when you talk about gender equity and things like that.

Gail O'Bannon #2

It’s important, O’Bannon said, for the girl campers to feel they are connected to people who look like them. I want  them to know that girls matter, women matter. We are in a day and age today that women are fighting for equity and if we can start young and teach these girls how to compete in the world and how to compete at school it will be big.

“This goes beyond the court.”

After a year of virtual events, Mavs Academy, in partnership with Chick-fil-A DFW, is hosting in-person summer camps for the first time since Summer 2019. In addition to the inaugural All-Girls Hoop Camp, The Academy features Hoop Camp, Dance Camp, Development Camp, Gaming Camp.

During the camps, Mavs Academy continues to monitor the guidelines from various government orders, health experts and the NBA to develop appropriate protocols (which may include social distancing, mask wearing, and sanitization) for the camps. The current guidelines allow in-person camps to be held at 50% capacity, with virtual camp options available.

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Written By

Dorothy Gentry is the sports editor for the Texas Metro News.

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