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Basketball summer camp teaches fundamentals, brings empowerment for young female athletes

CW Celtics are running a summer camp that encourages young girls to build confidence on and off the court
20220823 Jessica Robbins with team submitted
Jessica Robbins coaches an introduction to basketball program for young girls in Centre Wellington.

Jessica Robbins is many things. She is a mother, coach and former athlete.

Robbins played a variety of sports throughout her life. She played basketball during her post-secondary education and continued to play basketball recreationally following.

She knows first hand the confidence and empowerment that being an athlete brings. That’s part of the reason she runs the Introduction to Basketball course for young girls, ages six to eight and eight to 10 for the Centre Wellington Celtics Basketball league.

"I started playing basketball because I was super tall,” Robbins said. “One day somebody walks up to you and goes ‘You're tall, want to play basketball?’ So I did, but I basically played almost all the sports."

Robbins signed her oldest daughter up for basketball with the CW Celtics when she turned seven and recalled a former coach for the co-ed team that would treat the female players differently than their male counterparts.

“He would just sort of not treat them the same on the basketball court and when they're seven years old, it doesn't matter,” Robbins said. “I reached out to somebody in the organization and said ‘hey, I’d love to help.’ So, I started helping.”

Robbins explained there was a coach working with the CW Celtics who previously ran a program for young girls in interested in basketball. However, when his daughters aged out of the young girls program, there was a gap that needed to be filled.

She stepped in and helped to create a summer camp geared toward introducing young girls to playing basketball.

“I just sort of take them through the basics over a course of six weeks, and then get them ready to play the game,” Robbins said. “So, come the fall, if they want to play rep or if they want to play even house league, they're ready to play.”

Robbins said she loves watching the little basketball players come out of their shell while learning the fundamentals of the sport.

“I really liked teaching the super young ones because when they start to play, especially like the five-year-olds, they have been taught forever, to share, to take turns when you're on the playground, you don't push” Robbins said. “But then the ball bounces and everyone looks at it. So I have this thing where kind of, yell ‘Who’s ball is it?’ Then the girls will look at me like, ‘I can just take it from them?’

“I think it like gives them this courage not to just go after the ball but to go after whatever it is.”

Robbins said this applies to every child athlete. She also noted that when girls hit puberty, they typically drop out of sports.

“They really drop out of sports in significant numbers,” Robbins said. “I think getting them started early in loving the game, and keeping them active is super important.”

Robbins said this applies to everyone, regardless of gender. But she stressed that the confidence-building aspect of the program positively affects its young female participants, which is her favourite part to watch.

“It's this idea of, like, this transition for them on the court. They get to be a bit more aggressive,” Robbins said. “If they're playing co-ed, they can just steal that ball from that boy. There's this transformation that sort of happens over that first year, which is pretty cool to watch.”