BRAMPTON — If you stepped into the gym at Notre Dame Secondary School during a recent session of the Aspire For Higher Elite Basketball camp you would have noticed something a bit different from most other camps.
The nearly 40 campers, aged 10 to 14, were all girls and so were their instructors. While the camp, founded by McGill University basketball star Abena Addo, ran through most of summer at three locations, for one week one gym was set aside for just the girls and it drew rave reviews.
Many of the girls said it made a big difference not having to hear what some of the boys might say.
“I don’t have to worry about making a mistake,” said 13-year old Olivia Coupland, who said she enjoyed the chance to learn without boys being around. Many of the girls had also been to co-ed basketball camps and the players said during the week of the all-girls camp they were able to just have fun with their friends.
Separating boys from girls in sports instruction is gaining support: This summer the Brampton Golf Club began a girls-only golf centre, the first of its kind in Canada.
Addo, who was running her camp for the second consecutive year, said she got a good response to her decision to feature the girls-only week this summer as two entire minor basketball teams enrolled their players.
The camp had some high-powered instruction from four women who played high school basketball in Brampton before going on to play at the university level in Canada and the United States. Addo said they were great role models for the youngsters.
“This gives them a chance to see that girls can go on and play at a high level,” said Addo who went on to play for McGill University after playing at St. Edmund Campion. She graduated McGill with a degree in Ecological Determinants, and is now enrolled in a Masters program in Civil Engineering at the University of Toronto, where she plans to continue to play basketball. She was assisted at the camp by Campion high school teammate Jasmine Lewin, formerly of Eastern Kentucky, who is now entering her final year at the U of T.
Former St. Marguerite d’Youville stand-out Aprille Deus, who plays at Acadia University and was the winner of the Raptors Coaching Mentorship program where she attended sessions with head coach Dwane Casey and his coaching staff, was also an instructor. There was also instruction from d’Youville graduate Naana Ankomo-Mensa, who completed a stand-out four-year career at Bryant University in Rhode Island and is going on to play professionally in England.
The Aspire For Higher Elite basketball camp expanded to three locations in Brampton this summer. Addo is planning to offer the camps again next summer and with the success of the girls-only camp she is hoping to expand it beyond just one week.