WNBA star Lisa Leslie surprises campers, speaks about being better role models

Summer camp has long been a tradition for many youth. Not all camps are created equal, and not all camps include roasting marshmallows and singing around the fire. The L.C. Bird Lady Skyhawks held their annual girls basketball camp last week, and campers were treated to a surprise guest appearance by two-time WNBA champion and women’s basketball icon Lisa Leslie.

“It was amazing to hear Leslie speak,” said Quenswayla Story, a rising senior and defensive leader on Coach Chevette Waller’s squad. “Leslie is a great role model and it’s great to hear a story about her making it because she gave it her all.”

Leslie spoke with campers for about an hour, holding a candid question and answer session that covered everything from her being the first woman to dunk in a game in the WNBA, her travels with the U.S. Olympic team to staying healthy (hint: ice your knees after every workout) and what hairstyles worked best for her when she was playing.

“It’s great to talk to these kids and serve as a role model to them,” stated Leslie. “I’m glad to be able to give back to the community.”

Leslie is one of the best known women’s basketball players in the world. The word “understatement” comes to mind when saying that her basketball resume is impressive – winning four Olympic gold medals, three WNBA most valuable player awards and making nine WNBA All-Star games during her career. Leslie is currently a mother of two and part owner of the Los Angeles Sparks, the WNBA franchise she spent her career with, and also is a broadcaster for ESPN.

“It was outstanding to have Lisa at our camp,” stated Waller. “She was so down to earth and I felt like I knew her personally.”

While Leslie didn’t perform any basketball drills with the kids, all campers got an autographed photo of Leslie and took pictures with the superstar, and Leslie did the “Harlem Shake” with the campers.

Several former Lady Skyhawks were on hand for the guest speaker and to help with camp including Kelsey Cruz (Fairleigh Dickinson), Ebony Patterson (VCU), Victoria Ricks (Grambling State), Karmen Robinson (North Carolina A&T), and Barbara Sitton (Davidson).

“I’m glad to come spend time with the campers and serve as a role model for them,” said Sitton. “Lisa Leslie talked about being a role model and it’s important to realize you always have eyes on you.”

Campers worked on a variety of offensive and defensive drills with the camp coaches including shooting, rebounding, boxing out and post play.

Leslie left the campers with a challenge to make a list of long and short term goals (sports related and otherwise) and to post them in a highly visible area. For Leslie, she posted these goals on the refrigerator door and the bathroom mirror. An attentive group of aspiring basketball stars listened before erupting into a chant for the guest speaker on what would be a memorable day for each camper.

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