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Basketball / March 2006 / BPC women share hoops skills with Special Olympians
Brewton-Parker College senior guards (from left, in white shirts) Dannisha Winfrey, Trivia Richardson and Ashley Little teach their basketball skills to Special Olympians from Madison County, Tenn., during a clinic for the students March 14 at Oman Arena in Jackson, Tenn., that preceded the 26th annual NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship. (BPC Photo by Terry Gaston)
BPC women share hoops skills with Special Olympians
By Terry Gaston
BPC Public Relations
Mix about 100 Special Olympians along with another hundred or so of the best small-college women’s basketball players in the country for an hour, and it’s hard to tell who is having the most fun.
For four Brewton-Parker College seniors, the Special Olympics clinic March 14, which preceded the 26th annual NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship in Jackson, Tenn., gave the Lady Baron captains and members of the other 31 participating teams the chance to teach their skills at Oman Arena.
The Special Olympians represented six Jackson-area schools and a local rehabilitation center.
The players also had a chance to learn – about the participants and perhaps a little bit about themselves as well.
“It was a very great experience,” said Tamika Drinks-Holloway, a three-time All-Conference selection from Mount Vernon who plays guard-forward for the Lady Barons.
“We had fun trying to teach the kids to shoot the ball and catch the ball. It was the same with the adults. There were some who didn’t want to play, so I still tried to get them involved and told them ‘Come on and shoot, please,’ and they would say, ‘OK.’”
Brewton-Parker guard Ashley Little, a 3-point threat for the Lady Barons, found herself in the role of coach for one youngster early in the session, and she must have provided some successful advice for the long-range shooter.
“He was about to shoot and he looked at me and said, ‘You shoot it,’ so I shot it, then I said, ‘Now it’s your turn,’ so we were going back and forth being a little playful,” said Little, a three-time conference All-Academic Team and two-time All-Conference selection from Lawrenceville. “They were all pretty eager on our side, and I enjoyed myself too, and it made us eager being there.”
Dublin native and East Laurens product Trivia Richardson, an NAIA All-America Scholar-Athlete in 2005 and like Little a three-time All-Academic conference selection, said offering the Special Olympians encouragement was rewarding.
“I think they really liked it when we complimented them when they made their shots, and they were also good listeners,” Richardson said. “We tried to teach them things like to aim for the (goal) square, and they tried to do that and made a lot of their shots that way. I enjoyed it and I think the kids enjoyed it and got a lot out of it.”
Point guard Dannisha Winfrey, the Southern States Athletic Conference Player of the Year and two-time All-SSAC pick from Paterson, N.J., is a tough competitor on the court but definitely had a soft heart during this hour of opportunity.
“I love kids anyway, so I’m going to have fun either way with kids,” Winfrey said. “One little guy, we kept asking him, ‘Are you going to make this one?’ and he said, ‘Well, I don’t know.’ And we told him, ‘You’re supposed to say, “Yeah,” that you should always have confidence in your shot.’
“So when we asked him again he said, ‘Yeah,’ and he made the shot. We were just teaching him a little confidence, to have confidence in yourself.”
The Lady Barons then had the first of their two practices at Englewood Baptist Church, which has one gym and is building another.
Englewood was Brewton-Parker’s local corporate sponsor for the 2005 tournament, and Lady Barons head coach Sheila Simmons quickly jumped on the church’s practice list again.
Dan Dillingham, Englewood’s director of Missions/Recreation, led the Lady Barons’ customary practice-closing prayer following their second workout session.
“Englewood was really close to our hotel and very few teams picked it and basically it was a place that gave us a little more practice time,” Simmons said. “We developed a really good relationship with Dan last year and everything went well again there this year.”
The Brewton-Parker athletic department has weekly Bible studies led by men’s assistant coach Sug Parker, while Simmons offers her support to the ministry with her attendance.
“As a Baptist institution I think it is really important that we continue to serve our Savior and know that He is responsible for all our talents.”
Simmons also considers first-year assistant coach Beth Parker, wife of head baseball coach Chad Parker, a blessing to the program.
“She has just really allowed God to use her in the capacity to help our team be successful,” Simmons said. “She brings a lot of experience in dealing with the players, she brings a lot of energy and a lot of knowledge, the things she does in order to prepare them, especially for pre-game, and just been a real blessing to the team.”