Wisdom And A Few 3s From Ruthie Bolton
On Oct. 1, 2000, Ruthie Bolton (Sacramento, Calif.) stood on a podium at the Sydney Olympic Games wearing a red jersey with USA and the number six on the front.
“I wore that (USA Basketball) jersey yesterday,” said Bolton, who earned her second Olympic gold medal at the games as a returner from the 1996 squad. “But, the last time I wore it in a real game was the 2000 Olympics. It is funny because when I go speak to basketball teams or camps, I wear my jersey because I feel empowered. Wearing that jersey took me to a powerful world. It is a special feeling when I have that jersey on.”
Nearly 15 years later, Bolton will be putting on a USA Basketball practice jersey to compete in the 2015 USA Basketball 3x3 Women’s National Tournament. Held at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, from July 25-27, the tournament will feature 3x3 basketball teams from throughout the country.“It was my love of the game,” Bolton said of what motivated her to participate in the tournament. “If it were left up to me, I would have been wearing the jersey for USA basketball. There is an excitement, like a kid in a candy story, that I will be wearing USA again. I have played overseas and in the WNBA, but there is nothing like my experience with the (USA) national team. There is a power when I wear the jersey. I am thrilled.”
Bolton and her three teammates will play against six women’s teams for the title of 3x3 USA Basketball national champions. In addition to the honor of winning of the tournament, the victorious team will receive an invitation to attend next year’s 2016 USA Basketball 3x3 National Tournament, which will determine who will wear red, white and blue in the 2016 FIBA World Championship in Guangznou, China.
“I tell my teammates if you aren't coming here to be serious, to compete, to represent, then don't come because this is serious business. When you put that uniform on, it means something. I want to be a good representative. I am humbled each time I get to wear a USA jersey.”
At 48 years old, Bolton’s teammates include 22-year old Fantasia Hillard (Sacramento, Calif.) along with 24-year olds Judy Jones (Phoenix, Az.) and Gianna Woods (Los Angeles, Calif.).
“All the girls are young,” said Bolton. “All three of them are trying to go to the next level. One is playing overseas, one is enrolled in Colorado College and the other is trying to get to the WNBA. I have seen all of them play. I have seen them compete, which is why they were picked to come with me. I feel we will represent well. I feel as thought they enjoy and respect the game. They play with a purpose and intent, which I feel is important.”
Team Teamwork is competing in its first USA Basketball 3x3 National Tournament, but Bolton has collected experience in the game of 3x3, which she hopes will help her team throughout the weekend.
“I have played 3x3 for the last two years,” Bolton explained. “I’ve been to Spokane, Washington, twice, and I have been to Dallas twice. I love 3x3. I wish it were a championship sport back when I played. I love the teamwork mentality. I chose the name Teamwork, because I think that is what it takes more than ever in 3x3. You have to have teamwork, hard work and tenacity. Those are things I live for.
“I have told them they have played five-on-five, but this is a whole different game. You have to go out there and shoot. You have to go there and do what I have seen you do. You can't take this for granted. It is not a regular day at the park. I feel like my experience, my leadership will help. They have the young legs, so they have to come ready, while I bring the wisdom and a couple of 3-point shots.”
The weekend kicks off on Friday with the skills contest, which is a dribbling, shooting and passing obstacle course, as well as a partner hot-shot competition and the 3-point shootout. The seven women’s teams will play a round-robin tournament on Saturday. Those standings will determine the top four finishing teams that advance to the medal semifinals on Sunday.
“The expectation is to enjoy the great atmosphere,” Bolton said of this weekend’s event. “I love it there. I love the atmosphere. I know I will leave it all there. I won't have any regrets when I leave. From my experience, this attitude produced great results. I am taking my mentality from when I was playing on the national team. I want to be that serious. I want it to be that important, this is important to me.”
Follow USA Basketball 3x3 on usab.com or Twitter at @usab3x3 for all of the latest news from the 2015 USA Basketball 3x3 National Tournament and more.