July 8, 2009
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
Rachel Hollivay isn''t letting a little disappointment slow her down.
In fact, the New Hope High School sophomore girls basketball player is using her experiences this summer to take her game to new heights.
In May, Hollivay was one of 34 players invited to travel to Colorado Springs, Colo., to attend the team trials for the 2009 USA Basketball Women''s Under-16 National Team.
Even though Hollivay, a 6-foot-4 center, wasn''t one of the 12 players chosen for the final roster, she is using the decision of the USA Basketball Women''s Developmental National Team Committee as motivation to become one of the nation''s top players.
"I think it was a good experience but I could have done way better," Hollivay said. "The altitude was difficult to get used to. I thought it was about to kill me, but it was a great experience."
Hollivay said she learned an array of post moves and knows she has the ability to tap into unlimited potential if she continues to work hard.
Hollivay thanked all of the people who helped support her and her family and helped them realize the opportunities she is experiencing this summer. She hopes her new mind-set can help her show everyone the work, the conditioning, and the travel will all be worth it.
"I was disappointed and I cried when I didn''t make the team," Hollivay said. "But I have gotten over it. I think I have gotten a lot better. I have worked every day non-stop. My attitude is better and I am not talking on the court unless it is on defense. I also have been working on my ballhandling and on my shot. Everyone says I can be the best in the country, and I know I can do it. I have to grow up and do it."
Hollivay''s play at the team trials was good enough to earn her an invitation back to the team trials next year, according to Kim Davis Powell, her Amateur Athletic Union team coach.
Powell coaches Hollivay with the Florida Essence out of Tallahassee, Fla. She said she talked with several people who watched the players compete and they told her Hollivay has a tremendous upside.
Davis Powell worked nearly all of last month with Hollivay and her AAU players on individual skill instruction. She said she noticed in those workouts that Hollivay was more focused and had benefited from the experience in Colorado.
"She has matured and finally understand what it means to work and to want something," Davis Powell said. "She just had been playing ball because she is so tall. Now she is playing ball because she really wants to be the best."
Davis Powell has been working with Hollivay to develop her ability to score in different ways in the low post. She said Hollivay is learning how better to use her height and is getting stronger and smarter every day.
Hollivay and her Florida Essence teammates will have plenty of chances to get even better and to showcase their skills. The team will play Thursday through Saturday at an event in Virginia before it goes to Chicago for a Nike tournament on Saturday through Tuesday.
From there, Florida Essence will go to New Orleans, where it will compete in Basketball on the Bayou on July 21-25. The final stop this month will be July 28-31 in Augusta, Ga., for the Nike Nationals, which will feature the top 24 Nike AAU teams in the country.
Davis Powell said the travel will help Hollivay continue to mature and to understand that she needs to grow up and to branch out to realize her goals. She said Hollivay''s experience in Colorado of not making the team could be the best thing for her in the long run.
"I feel she could be a top-five player in the country, if not No. 1," Davis Powell said. "She is from a small area and she still has to grow up a little bit and understand that it is OK to be away from mom and dad sometimes. I feel she can be one of the best players in the country. I know that we''re going to take that approach in training and help her have a better shot of making the team next year."
The 2009 USA Basketball Women''s Under-16 National Team will compete in the inaugural FIBA Americas U16 Championship for Women on Aug. 10-14 in Juan de la Barrera Gym in Mexico City, Mexico. The top three teams will qualify for the U-17 World Championships on July 16-25 in France.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.