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Haile Middle School seventh-grader Kaylee Kehler dribbles to the basket during the Nike Girls Basketball Camp July 6, at Lakewood Ranch High.
East County Wednesday, Jul. 13, 2016 3 years ago

Hit or Miss: Jen Blanco

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Nike Basketball Camp gives girls a place to hone their skills.
by: Jen Blanco Sports Editor

Twelve-year-old Kaylee Kehler dribbled past the free throw line and around Riverview boys basketball coach BJ Ivey before putting up a perfectly timed shot at the Lakewood Ranch High gymnasium July 6. 

Kehler was one of 30 girls who spent the past week perfecting their shot, ball handling skills and footwork, during the Nike Girls Basketball Camp. 

The Haile Middle School seventh-grader had been attending the Mustangs’ summer camps, but wanted more. 

Looking for an opportunity to perfect her skills without the frustration of having to compete alongside boys for playing time, Kehler turned to Lakewood Ranch girls basketball coach Tina Hadley, who with the help of Ivey, hosted the camp for the first time. 

“It challenges you to your ability,” Kehler said of the camp. “(The instructors) are going to make you do it right. It’s not just going to be semi good. It’s going to be great.” 

Together Hadley and Ivey, who both saw their teams finish as state runners-up this past winter, used their experience to help the girls, entering grades 6-11, develop athletically, refine fundamental basketball skills and enhance their overall skill set, focusing on the areas of shooting, offensive moves, defense, rebounding and more. 

“You have to work hard on a consistent basis,” Hadley said. “Everyone wants to be a Stephen Curry, but not everyone wants to put in Stephen Curry work.” 

Most importantly, the camp, which brought players from across the state, as well as Belgium, New York and Virginia, allowed the players to share the court with only those players who share the same gender. 

“Sometimes girls need to be separated,” Hadley said. “This is a good environment for them to be in. They’re not comparing themselves to boys. In camps, boys tend to be selfish when it comes to game time and throwing the ball to girls.” 

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Braden River High volleyball coach Matt McElhinney is mastering the fine art of multi tasking one diaper change at a time. 

McElhinney and his wife, Lainna, welcomed their second son, Carson, into the family June 21, joining big brother, Walker, 2, who seems to like his younger brother for now. 

It’s been an eventful last three weeks for Carson, who has already made multiple appearances at Peach’s Restaurant, where his mother works, the pediatrician’s office and family gatherings, among other adventures. 

In the three weeks since Carson’s birth, McElhinney has spent the majority of his time chasing Walker around and making sure his older son still has time for music and sports. 

“Overall, it’s been pretty good,” McElhinney said. “It’s a good balance. We help each other out. Right now we’re in the sweet spot because of summer, but pretty soon it’ll kick back into high gear.” 

While McElhinney hasn’t seen a drastic change in his daily schedule since Carson’s birth, McElhinney, who also co-owns the Wave Volleyball Alliance, knows the fun is only just beginning. 

That’s an understatement. 

With the fall season officially set to open Aug. 1, McElhinney’s afternoons and evenings will be spent back and forth between Braden River and Wave for the club’s youth program, which means Carson will more than likely be making an appearance on the court in the coming weeks much the same way Walker did when he was born in the midst of club volleyball season. 

“I’ve got a team of built-in babysitters,” McElhinney said. 

Being a mom of two little boys and a sports editor, I can relate to what McElhinney is going through. It’s a newfound challenge juggling the demands of an infant, an active toddler, and a full-time job; but I wouldn’t want it any other way. 

After all, who said anything in life was easy? 

So Matt, when you’re up responding to emails at 1 a.m., don’t worry. You aren’t the only one. 

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