The Women of Valor basketball club is assisting young girls realize their hoops dreams.
Aside from local competitions, the group has organized participation at overseas camps and helped female players go to college abroad. At the moment, the club has helped three of its most talented prodigies – La-Torae Nixon, Hannah Parchment and April Ebanks – attend school in the United States.
Redver Ebanks serves as the Women of Valor founder and said getting those athletes into schools overseas shows Caymanians can overcome geographical and financial limitations.
“It kind of erases the stigma that parents tell to their kids, that sports is not going to take you anywhere,” he said. “We have as much talent as anywhere else. But the No. 1 issue we have is supporting the kids with whatever they decide to do, with finances and moral support. That’s where the problem lies. The parents have to encourage their kids in whatever sport their children choose to do.
“I’ve been coaching for 10 years and I’ve heard it all. I have young ladies on my team now whose parents want them to quit.
“Getting somewhere is not about millions of dollars. It’s about education, traveling to see the world and being on the national team. For example, La-Torae went to Turkey years ago for basketball and as she can tell you, basketball has the ability to open your eyes demographically and expose you to other cultures. So this news about the girls in school does help to knock down stigmas.”
April Ebanks, 17, is the latest starlet plying her talents overseas. The sophomore forward enrolled at Walsingham Academy in Williamsburg, Virginia this month. She has played sparingly for the Trojans initially but head coach Neil Bailey said she will gradually work her way into the rotation. Ebanks joins Parchment, 16, at Walsingham and said it is good to see a familiar face on the squad.
“I’m very happy to be here,” April Ebanks said. “Walsingham is a great school and having Hannah here makes things easier.”
Walsingham is hoping its new Caymanian recruit can replicate Parchment’s production, as she was averaging over 15 points per game before suffering a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament. The early prognosis is the partial tear will sideline her for weeks, rather than months, with Parchment expected to return next month.
According to the Williamsburg Yorktown Daily newspaper in Virginia, she was “drawing heavy interest from Division I schools, including William and Mary” after transferring to Walsingham from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Nixon, 16, currently attends IMG.
A scholarship find for Parchment, who ranked sixth in scoring for the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools, was subject to some controversy involving Cayman’s former premier McKeeva Bush. Much of her school funding was provided by the former UDP government’s Young Nation Builders Scholarship Fund – which saw its financing cut by the current government. Her father Richard was Bush’s political advisor.
Nixon also received money from the fund to attend IMG.
According to Redver Ebanks, April Ebanks did not receive any public funding to attend Walsingham.