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Lessons from basketball camp
Sports and life are filled with opportunities to grow and stretch ... In putting yourself out there, there are risks. Today's girls face comparisons and competition, pressured to be pretty and hip.

by Janet Karnoven-Montgomery


A little girl with a pageboy haircut and her mom drove into the Cities from Hutchinson, Minn. She stood hesitantly as her mom attempted to say good-bye, leaving the 10-year-old daughter at a basketball day camp. "If you stay all day," her mom encouraged, "I'll take you to Burger King for a milkshake." A quiet nod signaled acceptance of the offer, one repeated every day at my metro basketball day camp. Little Lindsay Whalen overcame her trepidation and participated all week-and the rest is history.

I have seen my share of apprehensive girls, from big cities and small towns. Some need bribery, like a milkshake, to survive homesickness-even at day camp. Some never get out of the car, some get to the gym entrance before turning around, and some develop a stomachache or headache once we are under way, thwarting their participation.

Sports and life are filled with opportunities to grow and stretch individually and alongside others in team sports. In putting yourself out there, there are risks. Today's girls face comparisons and competition, pressured to be pretty and hip.

"Maybe I won't make it." "Maybe I'll look stupid or uncoordinated or fat." "People may laugh at me." "After all, I am pretty busy. Facebook takes a lot of time."

Lindsay Whalen has returned to speak to campers, a highlight for everyone, including me. Yet she is just one success story. There are many others who have overcome personal anxieties and barriers, making their way in basketball and life.

It takes a village to raise a strong girl. Many have encouraged Lindsay Whalen along the way. There are important roles to be played in the lives of girls. Let's provide accepting smiles and encouraging voices to strengthen them whenever and wherever we can.

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Janet Karvonen-Montgomery is a Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame member and three-time state champion from New York Mills. She runs Karvonen Montgomery Basketball, a summer program for girls and boys. www.kmbasketball.net

Editor's note:Lindsay Whalen starred for Hutchinson High School and the University of Minnesota Gophers, led the Minnesota Lynx to the WNBA championship in 2011 and won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2012 London Olympics.

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