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Exclusive: Atlanta Hawks and Google Host Lady Ballers Hoop Summer Festival to Empower Young Girls On and Off the Court

Exclusive: Atlanta Hawks and Google Host Lady Ballers Hoop Summer Festival to Empower Young Girls On and Off the Court

The Atlanta Hawks recently hosted their Lady Ballers Summer Hoop Fest 2024. The week-long experience was powered by Google Cloud and took place at the Northside Youth Organization.

The event, part of the Jr. Hawks Summer Camps, offered girls a unique blend of athletic and educational opportunities. Participants received professional instruction from Atlanta Hawks basketball development coaches, emphasizing fundamental skills through group and individual training, as well as five-on-five play.

Additionally, campers participated in fun STEM activities and basketball competitions, making this camp a holistic experience that extends well beyond the court. Each camper received a Hawks swag bag containing a full Adidas uniform, basketball, sling bag and water bottle, as well as a ticket to an Atlanta Hawks game for the 2024-25 season.

Earlier in the week, campers had the opportunity to interact with prominent figures in the Atlanta Hawks organization. Special guests included Hawks assistant coach Brittni Donaldson and Hawks guard Garrison Mathews. These appearances provided campers with additional insight and inspiration about the sport of basketball.

In an exclusive interview with ADW, Chris Jacobs, senior director of the Hawks Basketball Academy, shared the impact the program has had on families in the metro Atlanta area. “Our Lady Ballers program started six years ago, and today we have 65 girls, ages 8 to 14, attending the camp,” Jacobs said. “They’ve learned life lessons in addition to basketball skills, like teamwork, leadership, confidence, collaboration, the ability to compete and handle adversity. It’s been rewarding to see their growth from Monday to today.”

Jacobs also highlighted positive feedback from parents, noting the high demand for the camp, which sold out in just 72 hours. “Parents appreciate the safe and inclusive environment we provide, allowing girls to compete and learn among peers who are like them. My daughter is attending this camp and I know she feels comfortable,” he added.

A typical day at the Lady Ballers camp included a variety of activities designed to improve athletic and academic skills. “Today, the girls participated in hands-on labs, focusing on skills such as rebounding, passing, dribbling, shooting, agility and defense,” Jacobs said. “A special STEM activity led by Google executives included a catapult basketball game, teaching the girls about physics and how it relates to basketball.”

The camp also featured a panel discussion titled “Lessons Beyond the Court,” in which executives from Google and the Hawks shared their career paths and the importance of STEM in sports. “It’s critical to expose girls to different career opportunities and role models,” Jacobs said. “We want them to see that there are no limits to what they can accomplish, on and off the court.”

Felica Coney, vice president of global server operations at Google Cloud, emphasized the importance of combining sports and education. “This partnership with the Atlanta Hawks was about creating a program that demonstrates our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, creating a sense of belonging for all,” Coney said. “STEM activities taught the girls fundamental physics concepts, building their confidence and breaking down perceptions about their abilities.”

Coney, who participated in the panel, highlighted the life skills learned through sports. “Playing basketball taught me collaboration, resilience and the ability to adapt and succeed,” she said. “These skills are transferable to any career path girls choose, whether it’s in sports, technology or any other field.”

The 2024 Lady Ballers Summer Hoop Fest exemplified the Hawks’ commitment to developing well-rounded individuals through a combination of athletic training and educational enrichment.

As the camp continues to grow, it promises to inspire and empower more young girls, preparing them for success in all aspects of life.

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