If Brock women’s basketball coach Ashley MacSporran is forced to put a label on youth with developmental challenges, the word she chooses to go with is “amazing.”
And it’s those amazing young kids who will play a starring role in her Brock Badgers Women’s Basketball camp July 17-21.
MacSporran, who is heading into her second year as the women’s basketball coach at Brock, made community outreach part of her mandate when she came to the region.
Earlier this year, she was named one of 12 community ambassadors for #CompassionateSTC, a year-long social media campaign launched by JCI St. Catharines in collaboration with the mayor’s office and other community leaders and groups.
Each month, a different community member is tasked with documenting their own efforts to make St. Catharines a more compassionate place.
MacSporran is the ambassador for July, and she’s using her team’s youth camp next week to further the #CompassionateSTC movement.
The Brock Women’s Basketball Camp is designed to help kids and youth from eight to 13 years old improve their skills through the teaching of MacSporran and the rest of her varsity women’s team.
The coach decided the skills camp would be the perfect opportunity to show some compassion to a dozen or so young people from Niagara whose challenges mean they don’t always get included.
“To me, compassionate city means inclusion,” said MacSporran, who is hoping the camp experience will benefit both the special needs youth and the other 50 or so players in attendance. “It’s not just about basketball, but it’s about helping these kids learn a bit more about things.
“Kids can be mean, but they can be great about not seeing race, ethnicity and social status.”
MacSporran said around 12 “amazing kids were invited to be part of the camp for free. They can come for the full days or a few hours or whatever is good for them.”
Also taking part will be Gregory McPherson, the brother of incoming Badgers women’s basketball player Courtney McPherson. Gregory, who was born with Down syndrome, has a big local following on social media and runs a group called G-Mc’s Fitness Homies with Extra Chromies.
He’ll be an assistant coach working with MacSporran and her team all week.
The Badgers coach is also hoping the Brock community takes part in her week of compassion.
“I’d like to challenge the University to be compassionate Badgers,” she said. “The great thing about this project is it can be anything — little acts of kindness or generosity, listening to someone who needs to talk, helping your neighbours.
“The mayor talks about being the most compassionate city, and we want to be the most compassionate university.”
MacSporran and the women’s basketball team will launch the skills camp and their #CompassionateSTC project on Monday, July 17 at 9 a.m. in Bob Davis Gymnasium. Everyone is invited to attend.
The #CompassionateSTC movement was launched by St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik, who was inspired by the outreach efforts of Brock Social Justice and Equity Studies alumnus Tim Arnold (BBA ’96). Another alumnus, Steve Boese (BA ‘06), manager of the Generator at one interactive digital media incubator, became the campaign chairman, while three other Brock alumni are part of the roster of ambassadors.
Sara Palmieri (BA ’03) was the ambassador for March, Crispin Bottomley (BA ’04, BEd ’05) took the role for April and Julie Rorison (BA ’10) will be the ambassador for December.