Starlets shoot for DREAM trip

A local girls program hopes to groom young talent in Orlando.

DREAM Basketball Club will be sending female players aged 7-17 to the Joi Williams Basketball Camp at the University of Central Florida in Orlando on June 16-20. UCF is a National Collegiate Athletics Association Division I school and DREAM founder Wendy Manzanares is an alumnus, having completed both a bachelor of science degree in finance and economics and a master of arts in applied economics from the university.

Manzanares says the trip is a prime opportunity to boost Cayman’s talent pool.

“The young ladies will be participating in both the fundamental and shooting camp,” Manzanares said. “This will be a great experience for the young ladies, who will get the opportunity to learn more from coach Joi and her coaching staff as well as UCF players. The trip is being made possible through our various fundraisers and I thank all of the individuals who have contributed towards the trip in some way or form.

“I especially thank my hardworking committee – a group of parents as well as former women’s basketball players – who have contributed significantly to making the trip possible.”

Williams has been coaching for more than 20 years and guided the UCF Knights to 2009 and 2011 NCAA Tournament appearances after winning Conference USA Championships in those seasons. Williams also served as assistant coach for the United States women’s teams that won gold at the FIBA Americas 2010 Under-18 Championship and claimed gold at the 2011 Under-19 World Championships.

News of the UCF trip comes as the club takes part in the ongoing PwC Under-16 Basketball league. Behind the likes of Allyssa Connor, DREAM have been near the top of the standings throughout the season. Manzanares says her team, sponsored by Home Gas, has done well as newcomers to the competition.

“The DREAM team has shown great improvement throughout the season thus far with great contributions from both past players – such as Kimberli Ebanks, Josannah Watson and Yolanni Manzanares – and new players such as Moesha Truman and Yanel Forero. The team is currently placed second and has a good chance of progressing to the finals. I am delighted to see the team building chemistry and improving overall. This, in itself, is a great accomplishment for our program,” Manzanares said.

DREAM, which started last year, has also stressed the importance of academic achievement among its members. Manzanares says many of the girls have excelled in the classroom.

“I have seen great improvements with the young ladies in all areas of their lives from academics and conduct to self-confidence and self-esteem. Throughout the past school term, many of them have earned numerous achievements such as honor roll, student of the month and prefect awards along with top scores in mid-term and year-end exams. I am very proud of these young ladies and I continue to encourage them in all areas of their lives.

“I thank Home Gas Ltd., Cayman National Bank, Cayman First Insurance and Dart for their gracious support of the 2014 development program. We are also very thankful to Triple C School who have assisted with making an indoor facility available for weekly training sessions,” she said.