The Benefits of AAU Basketball
Nothing I ever experienced was hotter than the summer of 2000. I was in Orlando, Florida playing in the AAU Nationals for the first and only time at the Disney Wide World of Sports Coliseum. I remember being on the main court looking up in wonderment at the sheer colossal size of the entire complex.
There, the sport of basketball and I had our first true romantic moment: I had arrived to my dream relationship in the form of this destination.
The entire event was nothing short of being the greatest thrill I had ever experienced as an elite athlete, jam packed with just as much basketball time as family vacation time. Throughout the two weeks I spent away from my own family, I felt my spirit light up with a new found level of competitive drive. I used this fuel to take me to the top; I desperately wanted to make a name for myself in order to raise my basketball profile.
I never knew humidity until I spent those days in the Florida summertime weather, which included a forecast that would go from sunny to pouring rain in a literal flash. This experience not only shocked my senses, it opened my world to what I had known to be the “Happiest place on earth”. I had been to Disneyland many times as a young girl, but never Disney World. If the stakes weren’t already raised from the sheer rivalry of the competition, exploring Disney World was sure to be a great adventure in itself.
Talent rises to the top
After playing a marathon of games and being matched up against clearly the most talented girls in my generation, the challenge was complete.
I was 13 years old, and by some lucky miracle I found myself on the greatest stage on earth for any young girl with hoop goals: playing for a chance to win an AAU national championship.
And then we won it all.
Not only had I discovered myself, that summer I had discovered someone far more important to my life and career—I had discovered Candace Parker. I will never forget the sudden impact Candace had on the girls game because I was one of the rare few who witnessed her greatness on a national stage first. The only thing you could be sure about when you watched Candace play at 13 years old was that the stakes had no doubt been raised. Witnessing the emergence of a player of her caliber early in my career provided me with an additional edge of competitiveness that I used to sharpen my skill set and develop as a young athlete.
The AAU Advantage
Without AAU Basketball I wouldn’t have been the first to witness something magnificent, which was guiding us girls during a time where infinite possibilities existed beyond our grasp of knowledge.
The AAU’s elite platform of excellence is cemented through the aspiration it holds regarding the spirit of competition. This inspires and empowers the amateur athlete in a way that is true and pure to the game.
It’s complemented by its headquarters in Florida, which features an athletic atmosphere accompanied with a family-friendly environment. In my heart, hospitality always has a home with AAU basketball.
As I continue to find new pathways to pay this privilege forward, I am looking forward to using this prestigious platform to help inspire and empower the next generation.
To learn more about AAU Basketball, or other AAU sports, please visit aausports.org
Four time All-American, WNBA Champion, Edutainer and Coach