Executives and athletes stopped by week-long camp to talk lessons learned from basketball
ATLANTE – Last week, the Atlanta Hawks Basketball Academy hosted more than 75 female athletes at its first Lady Ballers Summer Hoop Fest presented by Gatorade. This four-day program is part of the 2022 Jr. Hawks Summer Camps Presented by adidas and was for young female basketball players ages 8-15.
As part of each camp day, the Hawks and Gatorade hosted different sessions featuring guest speakers with backgrounds and careers in the sport. Former Atlanta Dream guard Matee Ajavon, former Hawks guard Salim Stoudamire and Atlanta Dream assistant general manager Darius Taylor kicked off the first two days of camp as special guests and talked about their experiences specific to sport.
On Wednesday, the Hawks hosted a panel that included Rachelle Patel, director of marketing and partnerships for Laureus Sport for Good USA, KK Salmonsen, senior director of brand experience and activation for Hawks, and Dominique Wallace, director human resources of Dream. These sessions have been designed to empower and inspire participants by illustrating the various avenues and life lessons that sport can offer.
“We were thrilled to partner with Gatorade for our first Lady Ballers Summer Hoop Fest during an impactful week of development, competition, empowerment and, of course, fun,” said Vice President of Development. of Hawks basketball player Jon Babul. “It was inspiring to hear from talented industry leaders who discussed the values of the game and educated girls about the many opportunities sports can provide.”
On the final day of Summer Hoop Fest presented by Gatorade, the Hawks Basketball Academy hosted a pep rally, which included a special gift from Hawks partner and personal injury attorney Ken Nugent, who provided refreshments to the Lady Ballers. Additionally, Papa Johns, the Hawks’ official pizza partner, provided lunch for the Lady Ballers.
Later in the day, Dream players including forward Naz Hillmon, 2022 All-Star guard Rhyne Howard and guard Aari McDonald surprised the girls and talked about their journey in the sport as athletes feminine.
Additionally, the girls took part in overall development training as well as competitive play under the guidance of Hawks Basketball Development coaches. Those who attended also received a Hawks goodie bag which included a full adidas uniform, the chance to enter contests for prizes and interact with current and former Hawks stars.
Together, the Hawks Foundation and Gatorade have provided scholarship opportunities to campers in attendance as part of Gatorade’s Fuel Tomorrow initiative, a multi-year commitment to help millions of children get involved in play by helping break down the barriers young athletes face. One of the pillars of Fuel Tomorrow is working with leading social impact organizations like Laureus USA to co-develop measures that advance equity in sport through programs, access and training. Additionally, Gatorade provided hydration and nutrition products to all campers and coaches throughout the week.
Through their local initiative, Sport for Good Atlanta, Laureus USA works with more than 20 organizations that provide free sports and educational programs to 20,000 young people across the city. The Hawks are a fan and have worked with Sport for Good Atlanta for many years.
“One of Laureus USA’s primary goals is to increase the participation and leadership of women and girls in sport,” Patel said. “This camp is perfectly aligned with that goal, and we are grateful to Hawks Basketball Academy and Gatorade for creating an incredible opportunity like this for girls in the Atlanta community.”
The Summer Hoop Fest is a continuation of the Hawks’ Lady Ballers program, which aims to support youth participation in basketball and improve the overall basketball experience for young girls. The Hawks launched their Lady Ballers program in 2017, which aims to help young girls develop a lifelong passion for the game through positive engagements with female role models and coaches in a safe learning environment. . For more information on the Lady Ballers program, visit Hawks.com/LadyBallers.