By Nathan DiCamillo
“My goodness, I must be a good teacher,” Chicago Sky Coach Pokey Chatman told the high school girls in the Example sports program in McHie’s basketball arena on April 8.
“No, you’re a good teacher!” Chatman said pointing to Barry Bradford, President of Example Sports.
Partnering with ONU’s women’s basketball and Kankakee’s Example Sports program, WNBA Chicago Sky player Elena Delle Donne visited Olivet with her coach Pokey Chatman to teach high school basketball girls skills in a basketball clinic.
“I started coaching ten-year-olds,” Chatman, who is in her 23 year of coaching, said.
“That’s the age where they’re like a blank piece of paper. You can write a script, and they’re so attentive. They can come to the three-hour session, learn so much, and be really excited about it. It’s really nice for us professional coaches to come back to this level and teach some of the fundamentals. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Chicago Sky has done eight basketball clinics during this off-season, Chatman said. The students in Example Sports were easier for Chatman to teach because their skills and abilities “were on a higher level.”
“You can tell that these kids have been involved in organized basketball: Coach speaks, they close their lips. Most kids who aren’t used to being in that environment are bouncing the ball and kicking around, but this group was really high level for us,” said Chatman.
Parents and children alike expressed appreciation for both Example Sports and Elena for participating in the clinic.
“I love [this experience]. It is awesome, looking at the excitement on the young lady’s face,” said Viola Burse, mother of Example Sport’s player Martha Burse.
“I know this is the best thing they’ve done, and the young ladies are all excited about it because it’s encouraging and motivating to them knowing that someone of her caliber would put in time with them.”
Seventeen-year-old Martha has been with Example Sports for four years.
“She knows her business. Yes, she has learned a whole lot. Her shooting abilities have picked up, she knows how to handle the ball better, she has just improved overall. ” Viola said.
Martha had a “wonderful experience” while improving her skills at the clinic. She found the WNBA player, Elena, to be “super down to earth, real nice and laid back.”
Denise Johanson, whose daughters, 6th grader Mya and 9th grader Nicole, are in their second year with Example Sports, found the program to be “top notch.”
“We love Example Sports and all the coaches and what they are doing for all the boys and girls in the program. This has been a great opportunity—to have one of the coaches of the Chicago Sky and one of the top players in the world, Elena Delle Donne, work with our girls.”
Both Mya and Nicole had positive things to say about both Elena and Example Sports.
“I thought it was really awesome. I learned a lot,” Nicole said. “I have a learned a lot since [joining the program]. I’ve learned not only how to be a post but also how to be a guard.”
Example Sports is the AAU program of the Kankakee County Soldiers, Barry Bradford said. Only the girl’s division of the youth program was present at the clinic.
About sixty of the one hundred girls enrolled in the program were present.
“Coach Pokey Chatman is a friend of mine,” Bradford said. “[Elena and Chatman] heard about our girls, that they really love the game and wanted to work hard and decided to come down and do a camp for them.”
This is Example Sport’s fourth year running and every year it tries to do something new with the program, Bradford said.
“This is a great partnership with ONU’s Women’s Basketball program, having coach Lauren as part of this too. The girls can see the next level which is college and the level after that—the pro’s,” said Bradford.
Coach Pokey Chatman has coached Chicago Sky for four years, coached on the college level for fourteen years and coached a pro-league in Europe for a time.
Elena Delle Donne was the 2013 Rookie of the Year according to the New York Times.