La-Toraes Turkish delight

A group of locals involved in
Cayman basketball leave for Turkey on Tuesday. Among them is 13-year-old hoops
prodigy La-Torae Nixon.

The Wesleyan Christian Academy
student joins two others in coach Shawn Pitterson and Travis Manzanares, 14,
(whose sister-in-law is established female player Wendy Manzanares). All will
have their travelling expenses covered by the Turkish Basketball Federation.
The trio will take part in the Children of the World 2010 basketball camp and
coaching seminar put on by both the federation and International Basketball
Federation, commonly known as FIBA.

It is the first time in the history
of Cayman basketball that a Cayman-based player or coach has been personally
invited to the European country. The trio will be in Istanbul 25-30 August and
return to Cayman on 31 August. The camp coincides with the 2010 World
Basketball Championships taking place in the country. Some 24 international teams
will take part in the competition from 28 August to 12 September. The trio will
get to witness the opening ceremony for the competition and watch three to four
matches, including at least one featuring the US and stars like Kevin Durant.

Nixon is arguably the most
recognisable part of the contingent. She has been involved in local hoops for
some three years and starred in many local leagues including the U19, U16 and
even the national women’s competition. She states she is pleased to be
travelling to Turkey.

“I feel confident in going there to
learn new stuff,” Nixon said. “I was scared at first but now I feel I should do
good up there. I’m hoping to meet new people and learn some Turkish.” 

Interestingly sporting ability runs
in the family. Her brother is 17-year-old Larue Nixon, who has starred in just
as many local competitions as his sister (Under-19, U16 and the national men’s
league). Moreover her parents are Latasha and Larue Nixon Snr, both of whom
represented Cayman in sports decades ago.

The elder Nixon, who starred in
netball, talked about her feelings in regards to her daughter making the
historic trip. “I have concerns and anxiety as a parent. She’s going half-way
around the world and the world is different now than when I was growing up. But
I feel honoured my child has this opportunity. What stood out to me was she was
selected not only because she can play but because she would make a good
representative for the island. I’m happy about that and she’ll make a good
ambassador for Cayman.”

La-Torae is one of four children in
the Nixon household. In addition to Larue, there is six-year-old Thiy-ru and
eight-year-old Taejah-rae. Mum Latasha states athleticism abounds in her
family. “I was an athlete from a young age, their father was an athlete and the
younger ones have shown athletic ability. The thing with La-Torae is she was
into sports from a young age. She played football with the U17 national team
under Bernie Bush when she was 10 years-old at Truth For Youth School. She even
played for Elite football club’s U17 team. La-Torae is simply a natural
athlete. Going off to Turkey is big and it’s going to be an unforgettable
experience. I’m looking forward to her learning as much as possible.”

For La-Torae the timing of the camp
is interesting. Earlier this month she took part in a Women of Valour
basketball camp in Miami, Florida put on by Caymanian coach Redver Ebanks.
While she is away in Turkey school starts back in West Bay and the Prospect
native was doing schoolwork up until her departure. She’s even taking school
books with her.

Nevertheless she is intent on
improving herself and the sport in Cayman. “I’m thankful to the Lord that I’ve
been able to go against bigger players than me. I intend to get better through
working harder. After going to this camp I think I should be a better player
and I can pass on my knowledge to others here and help local basketball