Web Editorial Associate
In preparation for the 2017 season in their new home at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, the Minnesota Lynx held three surprise basketball clinics this week with fans in the St. Paul area.
The three visits included stops at the St. Paul Midway YMCA, Crestview Elementary School and White Bear Lake High School.
The surprise clinics, which were put on by the Timberwolves and Lynx Basketball Academy, gave young basketball players and fans the opportunity to interact with a Lynx player or coach, ask questions, get autographs and run through basketball drills.
“We’re just really excited to connect with some new fans and some fans who have been coming to games for years,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “I just think it’s so impactful. One of the young guy said it was something he’ll remember for the rest of his life. That’s how impactful it is. If you just connect with one kid and you did something or said something that they took away, then it’s a huge success. That’s what it’s all about.”
On Monday, Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen and the basketball academy surprised kids at the St. Paul Midway YMCA.
“Just trying to get out here while we still have a little bit more time and more of a free schedule to be able to come out here and share a little knowledge and just have a little camp and clinic and see some excited faces,” Whalen said. “It was very fun to just see everybody excited and there are some great coaches out here as well that you can tell have a lot of energy and have a knack for working with kids of these ages.”
During her surprise visit, Whalen talked and met with the kids, as well as teaching them the importance of fundamentals in the game of basketball.
“Any time you can get a professional athlete in here to try and reinforce what you’re trying to teach these children is amazing,” said Ben Claassen, who works at the St. Paul Midway YMCA. “They are the ones they look up to, they are the ones they aspire to be, they are the jerseys that they are wearing. To have those athletes like Lindsay, a mainstream athlete, to come over here and to spend time with these children, it’s invaluable for them.”
On Tuesday, Lynx mascot Prowl and the basketball academy visited elementary students at Crestview Elementary School in Cottage Grove.
“The kids are always excited when we get special visitors. It’s been kind of a great year for some special incentives for them, so they’re always excited,” said Katie Carter, teacher at Crestview Elementary School. “I think it’s great, especially for young girls to be able to have those role models to look up to.”
Finally, on Wednesday, Reeve joined the basketball academy for a surprise appearance at White Bear Lake High School.
“It was pretty cool, I follow the Lynx a lot and I’m really into basketball, so getting to interact and seeing the atmosphere that (coach Reeve) creates at her practices, we can carry that on here,” said Anna Sanders, sophomore on the White Bear Lake girls basketball team. “That was pretty cool.”
Reeve started the clinic off by sharing her experiences from her career and telling the high school students what they need to do to be successful in sports or in other aspects of their lives.
“Having the opportunity to have someone like Cheryl come in is probably a once in a lifetime thing,” said Jeremy Post, head coach of the White Bear Lake girls basketball team. “She is one of the best coaches in the whole world, I don’t care if it’s men’s or women’s, she’s at the top of that list. There is a reason that they win over and over again.
“Having that type of leadership means a lot and for us to have even an hour of it to touch our lives is pretty cool.”