Updated: Jun 12
It was great to be back in the gym and to watch some girls basketball after being stuck at home for these past three plus months! As gyms are hard to come by during these times I was excited to see what the new normal looked like on the basketball court. The Kenner Angels are one of those programs that have been around for years and years so was with no surprise they would find a gym and be practicing several times a week. Seeing all the girls in there element (Although the a/c was not on) was fun to see as they competed and really got after it through out the entire practice. From the temperature checks, washing hands and hand sanitizer it was still basketball and a great outlet for those girls to get out the house and actually do something that pushed their bodies to the point of exhausting.... I can promise you they all slept well that night!
Coach Denis Aidoo has taken over the program and it continues to help a lot of young women given them an avenue to play basketball at the next level. We caught up with coach with a quick Q&A talking about the new look of basketball:
What are some of the challenges you have faced with Covid-19 and what does the new normal look like for summer AAU this year?
Covid-19 has dramatically changed our summer. We haven’t been able to practice. We were planning to have a few new younger age groups which had to be cancelled. We usually host a tournament and all of our fundraising plans have disappeared. Ordering gear and just preparing our journey for a new season is completely different. Now that we are finally starting, we are still very concerned about the virus. Trying to balance taking the proper precautions while also focusing on getting back into a normal basketball routine has been very challenging. We do temperature checks before every practice, take a lot of breaks to wash hands now, hand sanitizer, wipe down basketballs, try to socially distance when possible in practice, and we try to police each other about touching our faces! But we are adapting and making the best of our situation. We are excited about having an opportunity to enjoy the game we love this summer.
How hard has it been to find games/gyms to practice in and where all do you plan on playing tournaments?
We are very lucky to have found a gym in Slidell. Although we have to make the journey from the New Orleans area to Slidell for practice, we are so grateful that the SYBA gym facility has been gracious enough to host us a few days a week.
How long has the Kenner Angels program been around and why is this program important to you?
The Kenner Angels Program has been around since 1989. I have been coaching in the Angels program for 17 years. My sister, Tiffany, grew up in this program and her game blossomed with the guidance of this program. I have also been introduced to so many incredible people by being a part of this program. I’ve crossed paths with some of the most amazing players and coaches throughout my time with the Kenner Angels, and I have made some lifelong friends. I have to give Alan Frey a special thanks for giving me the opportunity to join the Kenner Angels Family!
What are things that can take OUR game, Louisiana girls basketball to another level?
Things that I believe can take OUR game to another level are people like you who are showcasing Louisiana girls basketball and bringing to light so many talented young ladies and all the people who support them. It is also important that these young ladies who aspire to be great stay driven and dedicated to the game. There are so many distractions, but if OUR girls take full advantage of their opportunities to pursue their passion, they have the ability to take Louisiana girls basketball to another level. We as a community of basketball trainers, coaches, and supporters must be willing to work together to provide as many quality opportunities for the girls in Louisiana. It is important to create an environment for success and teach the values that are needed to nurture one’s talent in order to maximize potential and be the very best that each of us can be. We must take “ownership” of OUR game!
What excites you most about your team this summer?
Honestly, there’s just a renewed appreciation for this team for this opportunity. We thought this summer may not happen, but we have been granted unique and special challenge to go on a journey with this team. We have to navigate through all of the challenges of COVID and we don’t have much time to figure it out, but challenges are opportunities to reveal character. I am excited to see this team’s character and resolve. We also have a few new players and coaches who have come into the program, and I’m extremely excited to see what they will add to the mix. It’s very different this summer, but time is quite possibly the most precious element in the world. We have been granted time to enjoy a game that we love, and we get to do it as Angels so it’s always exciting to cherish an opportunity like this.
Who stood out:
(No five on five so this was tough)
Taylor Wilkins / Mount Carmel / 2021 / G-F / 5'10
In a competitive setting she showcased her range hitting a couple of three's and did what she does best excelled in transition. She also demonstrated leadership and the Angels are going to count on her to make an impact on both sides of the ball this summer.
Meagan Bubeck / Mandeville / 2021 / G / 5'8
Her competitiveness and constant motor is contagious as she is always going hard. Like Taylor she's a returning Angel and the team will expect her to continue to grow on the offensive end. Her physicality and athletic ability allows her to defend multiple positions.
Emily Adams / Dominican / 2021 / PG / 5'3
I think she had the most fun on the court both anxious and excited about being back in the basketball gym! Emily was able to get herself out of trouble multiple times keeping her dribble alive and really makes the game easier for her teammates almost passing them open at times with her vision.
Alexis Lavarine / John Curtis / 2021 / F / 5'9
Alexis has made a name for herself nationally as an elite boxer training for Team USA and the Olympic team. One bright side of the Covid-19 virus shutting that down avenue down for now she can focus on basketball and play this summer. In lieu of being a good boxer she still has dreams of playing college basketball. She's of course a tough and physical forward with a good offensive skill set that allows her to create off the bounce from that position combined with her ability to stretch the floor.
Catherine Legendre / Ursuline Academy / 2022 / G / 5'8
Catherine left no doubt she has been working on her game during this three month break as she stole the show at one point in the practice hitting three straight three's in the three on three full court segment. She'll be playing on the 2022 Kenner Angels team and I expect her to have a big summer!