Amidst the crowd of kids on the Sandy Bay basketball courts, a group of girls have court priority as they run intensive drills – first layups, then a series of dribbling skill sets, into a suicide drill, moving into core movement positions, running through passing sequences, and finishing with full court laps. The girls did not stop to rest. Coach Trish Flanagan leads them through an intensive program designed to whip them into shape. The girls have been practicing for two months, two days a week. They are part of a new basketball program offered by the School of Life International Foundation (SOL), which offers several after school programs such as sports and fitness, art, health, and academics.
At this stage in the program development, Flanagan is teaching the girls fitness, discipline, teamwork, and the finer points of basketball. The goal is to develop a girl’s basketball team to compete on the island and possibly in national programs to the mainland. The team is open to playing boy’s or girl’s teams.
The 15-20 year-old girls come from Sandy Bay and Coxen Hole to participate in the program. Nine girls participate in the program and this number is growing as popularity for the program spreads.
Flanagan initially got to know the girls through a literacy project she spearheaded in 2008, the reason for her coming to Roatan. In addition to the literacy program, Flanagan is now the assistant director at the Sandy Bay Alternative School, as well as basketball coach on the courts. Originally from St. Louis, she has a professional background in teaching, social work with at risk kids, and coaching basketball. She has been playing basketball since she was in the sixth grade.
“The biggest challenge will be rainy season,” said about the open-air courts Flanagan. The courts are provided by AKR for the SOL programs. Flanagan is searching for alternatives, so that the program may remain consistent, no matter what the season. Flanagan knows the girls want to practice. “I’m most impressed with the discipline of these girls. They never say ‘no’ to whatever drill I give them.”
The hard work of the girls is showing. “They are running drills at a level that I wasn’t doing until after years of playing,” said Flanagan. “This is my first time playing basketball and I love it,” said Lisa Pinnace, one of the program’s players. “All the girls do. I’m meeting people, getting exercise, and having fun.” [/private]