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Desert Companion

Entitled to Play

Kelly Woods poked her head into the Paradise Recreation Center gymnasium on February 7 to see how things were going at the basketball clinic she’d organized for National Girls & Women in Sports Day. Some 30 kids (mostly girls, though boys were allowed) stood in lines and responded, boot camp-like, to coach Bill Smith’s shouted cues: “Guide on the side!” (Hands darted into place for pantomimed basketball shots.) “Goose neck!” (Releasing imaginary balls.) Smith distributed hand stamps to those responding most promptly. Later, stamps would be exchanged for prizes. Focus, motivation, and teamwork were among the virtues Woods hoped the clinic would impart. • “I used to play basketball in Michigan,” she said. “I also coached for 10 years, so I know that introducing young women to sports has a lot of value.” • She played in a post-Title IX world, where federally funded school programs were prevented from discriminating against girls and minorities. In 1986, the Women’s Sports Foundation started National Girls & Women in Sports Day. Clark County, Woods’ employer, hadn’t sponsored a local event, and Woods was happy to change that. • The day’s activities included an introduction to sports basics — running, ball-handling — for younger children; for seniors, a movie about famous female athletes; the basketball clinic for 6- to 16-year-olds; and an evening panel discussion about college and professional opportunities, which are expected to be enhanced by the arrival of the Las Vegas Aces WNBA team. • “I like basketball,” young Bella Zayas said, “because I get to shoot and play against people, and we always win!”

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