Exciting Weekend Ahead for 158 USA Women's U17 Trials Participants
On a warm, sunny Thursday afternoon and with a holiday weekend looming, most people would be planning a trip to the beach. Or maybe the mountains. Or a simple Memorial Day barbeque.
For 158 young female athletes, however, there is no place they’d rather spend the weekend than in the gym at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
That’s because tonight marks the first session at the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Cup Team trials. Of the 158, 124 are applicant athletes who paid their own way to take part in the eighth annual open trials.
There are many reasons for going through the application process. For 6-foot-0 forward Riane Burton, a rising high school junior who plays for Cy Ranch High School in Cypress, Texas, it was simple.
“I really wanted to come out here and show these coaches that I could come and play for USA Basketball,” Burton said. “I’m hoping to get a lot of experience out of this. These girls are all so great. There’s such amazing talent out here. I just want to come, see how it is and see if I have a chance.”
“I just want to work on my game, play basketball and have fun competing with some of the best players in the country,” echoed 5-4 guard Gabriella Rones of West Campus High School in Sacramento, California. “It’s the experience to be able to come here, get some skill work by some really good coaches. I think it’s a really cool experience for me. I think I’m going to have a lot of fun.”
The weekend tipped-off with orientation, featuring inspiring U.S. Olympic Team highlight reels, video messages from members of the 2017-20 USA Basketball Women’s National Team and a USA Basketball primer from Carol Callan, USA Basketball women’s national team director and chair of the committee selecting the final, 12-member team.
Orientation was followed by the first of three skills sessions, which are led by 2018 USA U17 World Cup Team and Tufts University head coach Carla Berube.
Maddie Burke (Central Bucks H.S. West/Doylestown, Pa.), one of the 34 invited athletes, has been through this before. She went through the orientation last year and heard about how difficult making the team would be. She was not one of the 12 whose names were called following the 2017 U16 National Team trials.
However, she was not deterred and enters the weekend even more focused than ever.
“I did a lot of workouts, I started working harder doing conditioning and stuff like that,” Burke said. “I feel more confident coming in because I know what to expect, but I’m still coming out with the same kind of attitude, to try to make everyone around me better and do the best I can.”
All-in-all, no matter whose names are called at the end of the long weekend, every one of the 158 young women will have had the opportunity to grow their game and play where legends played, such as four-time Olympic gold medalist and member of the selection committee, Tamika Catchings.
“I can’t believe I’m in this gym,” added Rones. “It’s amazing! I’ve always dreamed of coming here, so it’s just crazy that I’m actually here.”