Colorado Springs, Colorado
When Joyner Holmes (Cedar Hill H.S./Cedar Hill, Texas) returned to trials for the 2014 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Championship Team May 22-26 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the 6-foot-3 forward had a game-plan for success, and it worked.
On May 26, Holmes was named as one of 12 members of the USA U17 World Championship Team, out of 145 athletes who took part in trials.
Holmes had returned to trials in 2014 after having missed the cut in 2013 for the USA Women’s U16 National Team, and that experience left her with a valuable lesson.
“I just learned that consistency is the key to everything,” Holmes said of the 2013 trials. “If you start off strong, you will finish strong. That way you have a better chance of making the team. Last year, I was a little bit nervous. I started off very weak in the first two days, and as the week progressed, I progressed as well, but I didn’t make the team.
“It would have hurt me to get cut twice in a row and not make the team, so I had a game plan this year, and my mind was set to what I wanted to do,” Holmes continued. “I accomplished my goal.”
Holmes wasn’t the only one thrilled at her selection to the 2014 USA U17 team. She returned to Texas to find support in places where she expected to find it, and in places she had not.
“He was really proud of me,” Holmes said of her father, Ronald Holmes, who played basketball at Central State University in Ohio and also is her training companion. “He knew I could do it from the start, but I just had to believe in myself and go out there and do what I needed to do to make the team.
“They were ecstatic, more happy than me,” Holmes said of her friends and classmates. “I was surprised at the support I got, my school, my community, everyone. That was extremely motivating.”
That motivation quickly was put to use as Holmes spent the 17 days between being named to the team and returning to Colorado Springs for training camp, which began on June 12, getting herself prepared.
“I did a lot of strength and conditioning, weights for my arms and legs and a lot of shooting.
“I feel good, but the altitude is way different than Texas, so that is kind of hard,” Holmes said after the first team practice. “It wasn’t as hard today as it probably is going to be in the near future.”
While her physical condition is up to par, Holmes and her U.S. teammates are being challenged by USA head coach Sue Phillips (Archbishop Mitty H.S./San Jose Cagers AAU, Calif.) to be equally as sharp mentally.
“It was very intense,” Holmes said of the USA’s practice. “It makes you focus and be in tune to everything she is saying. It’s somewhat of another level for me.
“Everyone has a different skill set to them. You work out with everybody, and everybody has a different gift about what they can do on the court.”
Beyond the support of her family and friends, Holmes said her greatest motivation comes from her late uncle,Willie Hall. Before every game, Holmes prays with her uncle in mind.
“I love the sport, and I play for my uncle specifically, because he passed away a year-and-a-half ago from a brain tumor,” Holmes explained. “Before he passed away, he told me to live out my dream and to play for myself.”
Undoubtedly, her uncle would be very proud as Holmes embarks on a mission to bring back a gold medal from the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship that will be played June 28-July 6 in the Czech Republic.
“I have traveled in the U.S., but not internationally. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. I want to explore and do new things, eat new things and meet new people, so it should be really cool.
“I know it is going to be a great experience, and I’m looking forward to it.”