For nearly two decades, Wendy Manzanares has been synonymous with women’s basketball.
From player to coach, she has covered most areas of the court. Her latest task is running a new outfit, DREAM basketball club, which she says is about elevating women far above the rim.
“I played basketball for 18 years and have been coaching youth basketball for the past five years, and during this time I have seen many young people who played basketball go on and get college educations and contribute positively to our society,” Manzanares said.
“I envisioned starting up a girls basketball development program that would not only aid the development of women’s basketball in Cayman, but provide an avenue for young ladies to develop as individuals. There is currently the need for increased focus on girls basketball as interest has been on a decline and needs to be boosted.”
Manzanares’s basketball resume is impressive. A past member of Cayman’s national women’s team, she played and coached the Home Gas Flames – Cayman’s former two-time champions. She served as assistant coach to the Under-16 girls national basketball team that competed at the 2012 CentroBasket Under-15 Championships in Mexico. That squad – featuring Hannah Parchment and La-Torae Nixon – earned a historic fifth place finish and kudos as the top youth side in the Caribbean.
To her point, most local competitions barely get the minimum number of female participants. The national women’s basketball league, for example, saw a delayed start this year due to a lack of players and teams. It is slated to get going this week with only three squads.
Manzanares got her club off the ground in January – after officially launching it last October – with its spring term involving sessions every Saturday at the Triple C indoor school gym from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. In a short span of time, DREAM has made some positive inroads by attracting talents like Yolanni Manzanares, Josannah Watson and Alyssa Connor. Watson claimed kudos recently as the rookie of the year in the girls division of the 2013 Dominos Under-19 Basketball League.
Manzanares said there are plans to enter the club, which caters to girls ages 7-17, in local tournaments.
“For the spring term, we currently have 35 girls registered and participating in the program. We plan to enter the upcoming Under-16 and Under-19 girls leagues as a club team. There are currently plans to take a group of our older girls to a basketball camp at a university in Florida this summer, where they will have the opportunity to learn more from National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1 coaches and players. They will also get to play amongst other girls their age, which will be a great experience for them.”
The name of the club is an acronym that stands for Dedication, Responsibility, Education, Attitude and Motivation. While those themes are sure to come through between the lines, Manzanares said the hope is to put those aspects in motion off the court as well.
“Our committee is made up of a group of strong and very committed parents, who have a lot to offer to the program overall in terms of organization, wisdom, ideas and experience. I am grateful to have such strong support from the DREAM committee to get the club headed in the right direction.
“Our plan is not only to focus on learning to play basketball, but on developing these young ladies in every aspect. DREAM will be involved in regular community service projects, where these young ladies will learn the importance of giving back. Our plan is to stay connected and work together with parents to ensure the success of these young ladies. There will be ongoing mentorship provided with regular motivational material and guest speakers from various walks of life.
“As the club is newly formed, it is seeking support from the community through sponsorship from people or companies interested in contributing to the program.”
For more information, call 926-4936 or email [email protected]