‘Her Time To Play’ gives Utah girls their own basketball camp

Feb 18, 2023, 7:06 PM | Updated: 7:10 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — There are lots of ways to get better at basketball. Practice is one of the best ways.

So is getting lessons from professional players like Jasmine Thomas of the Los Angeles Sparks is why roughly 300 basketball players aged 8-to-18 from Utah were at the Salt Palace Saturday morning.

“Dribble! Go! Nice!” said Thomas while running some drills.

There were shooting drills, as well as stations for players to work on dribbling, shuffling, and passing.

“It taught me a lot about how to pursue my dreams about being a basketball player,” said 13-year-old Brooklyn Call.

Jasmine Thomas of the Los Angeles Sparks working with the girls. (KSLTV’s Alex Cabrero)

For this clinic, though, it was girls only. It’s called “Her Time To Play.”

“To be able to work with young women and inspire them and make sure they have confidence and believe it what they’re doing, it’s important,” expressed Thomas.

Her Time To Play is designed by the NBA and the WNBA to try and keep girls interested in playing sports. The clinic was part of the NBA All-Star Game weekend in Salt Lake City.

“There are so many things you can learn from it,” said Thomas. “From positive body image to believing in yourself to the confidence of it and the discipline of it.”

That positive self-esteem is why many parents brought their daughters here.

“That’s the coolest part about it is seeing her confidence build and just knowing that she can do what her brother does. It doesn’t matter if she’s a girl. She’s better than he is anyway,” said Ryan Nielsen with a laugh as his young son looked up in disbelief.

Ryan Nielsen with his daughter during the camp. (KSLTV’s Alex Cabrero)

However, maybe more important than the skills they learned on the court was listening to professional players talk about life off the court when they were kids.

“When I grew up, I was super shy,” said Isabelle Harrison, who plays for the Chicago Sky. “I was tall. None of the girls looked like m. I just did my own thing.”

The pros wanted the girls to know it is okay to be different.

“A fun fact about me? I play basketball in my glasses. I see you right there,” said Diamond DeShields, who plays for the Dallas Wings, while pointing to a girl in the crown who was wearing glasses.

Perhaps the speaker who got the most attention, especially from parents, was Malala Yousafszai. She is a Nobel Peace Prize recipient known worldwide for her activism for girls’ education.

One of the girls asking Diamond DeShields and Isabelle Harrison a question. (KSLTV’s Alex Cabrero)

Yousafszai was attacked by the Taliban in an assassination attempt in her home country of Pakistan when she was only 15 years old for being outspoken.

“There are even countries which have literally banned education for girls,” she said.

Malala, as she is known, wanted these girls to know that although sports are important, so is a quality education.

“If that is to become a doctor or a teacher or an engineer, a politician, or a sports person,” she said.

These are lessons these girls most likely were not expecting from this clinic, but they are certainly something they all enjoyed learning about.

“It was fun,” said Call. “Yeah, I had a good time.”

The girls training during the camp. (KSLTV's Alex Cabereo) The girls training during the camp. (KSLTV's Alex Cabereo) The girls training during the camp. (KSLTV's Alex Cabereo)

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‘Her Time To Play’ gives Utah girls their own basketball camp