Future Lady Panthers venture to UCLA

Local athletes learn from college pros

The Future Lady Panthers recently stepped up their “off time” this summer by going to a camp and tournament at UCLA.

For the past two years, the FLP went to University of Montana for summer camp. Coach Jason Blankenship was nervous this year sending his team to southern California, but UCLA assured him that his team would do well. They won four out of their five games.

“And we definitely outplayed that last team,” Blankenship said. In their last game, they lost by only three points, going 2-14 from the foul line.

The camp itself was beneficial to the middle school-aged players. There were team building exercises. The players had skill sessions with both UCLA players and professional women players. The coaches even got something out of it; they had training sessions with the UCLA coaches.

It wasn’t all work for the FLP players. They visited Disneyland, Universal Studios and the Santa Monica Pier and attended a Los Angeles Angels game. The camp lasted three days, so they set aside four days for fun in the sun.

“Several girls said that the camp was the best part,” said Blankenship, whose daughter, Alyssa, is a part of the team, “And that really says something about these girls.”

Blankenship sees their potential for high school basketball and beyond. They never lost their motivation at the camp, despite playing 80 to 100 games in one year alone.

“The sky is the limit for these girls,” he said. “And this experience is priceless.”

During the past two years, the players and their families have developed a close bond. Many of them have been playing together for several years. Most of the girls went to the same school. Seven players traveled to Montana. This year, 10 went to California.

“This trip was more of a celebration of the end of their time together,” Blankenship said.

Despite the fact that most of these girls will be playing high school basketball, Blankenship wants to continue the FLP. As his daughter also moves on, he hopes that more parents will get involved.

“I’m not going to skip my daughter’s games in the winter, but I want to keep this rolling,” he said. “We have something really good here.”

Blankenship further wants to share a special thanks to everyone in the community that got their car washed and bought a Papa Murphys card and to the local business that donated to their trip.