Young Squirrels Shoot Hoops

June 24, 2004

While the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs hosts its annual Summer Week on one end of campus, smaller squirrels develop their athleticism on the other. Jackie Bryan, Mary Baldwin’s head basketball coach and sports information director, has offered Lil’ Squirrels Basketball Camp each year during her four years at Mary Baldwin. “We try to teach them the fundamentals and have some fun along the way,” Bryan said of her cooperative staff.

This year, 42 Augusta County girls are honing their skills on the Mary Baldwin Physical Activities Center court June 21–25. “I really like that it’s all girls,” Martha Taylor, an 11-year-old player said of her two years with the Squirrels. “It makes me feel more comfortable.”

Half the players returned after last year. Rising fourth- and fifth-graders train on the half-court beside rising sixth- and seventh-graders as the girls compete in four games each day interspersed with tutorials, small group competitions and contests. “I like to play games,” Oana Chrisp, 12, said. “I love to shoot.” Bryan starts up another camp July 12 for older basketball enthusiasts in grades eight through 12.

The coaches, experienced players including Mary Baldwin alumnae and incoming freshman, help campers according to their individual needs. Bryan sees significant improvement throughout the week. “It’s a game I love,” Bryan said. “I like to share it with other people.”

Besides teaching basic teamwork and technique, counselors provide role models for young ladies not commonly exposed to women coaches. Lil’ Squirrels Basketball Camp is one of only a few all-girl summer camps in the area and has benefited from a female staff since it started. Campers finish the week with improved basketball technique, team-building skills, and real-life examples of talented female athletes.

“[Being a counselor] is good because I get to meet so many kids,” said Maneisha “Moe” Hardy ’04, an Mary Baldwin player who broke records as point guard last year. “They come to my games.”