The Los Angeles Sparks sponsored one of the largest girls-only AAU tournaments in the country with the second annual BallN on the Beach on the iconic Venice Beach basketball courts this past Saturday. The event, sponsored by Adidas, allowed young girls from fourth through twelfth grade to showcase their individual and team skills on the famous blacktop. The Sparks also put on a free fundamentals clinic to teach aspiring athletes what it takes to compete at the next level. The clinic, sponsored by WSS, was run by Junior Sparks Clinic Director San Dixon and Sparks Player Development Coach Jamal “Dash” Lovell.
Participants played three round-robin style games to 15 points to seed their team in the knock-out stages of the tournament. Three brackets were divided by grade level with the three winningest teams advancing to championship games that were played in the evening in front of Sparks players Kalani Brown and Alexis Jones. Seattle Storm forward, 2018 MVP and WNBA ambassador Breanna Stewart was also in attendance.
The Dream Team won the Chelsea Gray Division, the Lady Ballers conquered the Ogwumike Division, and Lynwood 2 captured the Candace Parker Division title. Each of these teams earned the opportunity to pose with rookie Kalani Brown and Duke alum Alexis Jones at center court while holding their dazzling trophies.
Brown and Jones drove onto the boardwalk straight from practice, where they were met by the smiling faces of fans eager for autographs. Among the WNBA-supporters in attendance was ambassador Kumi Tamura who has shown her support for the league and trailblazers like Kalani Brown since she was 10. CBS and KCAL were on-site to capture the day:
“It just makes you happy,” Brown said. “That [Kumi is] fighting for the same causes you are and that she understands us as women and as players.”
All girls participating in the event were given a ticket to an upcoming Sparks home game at Staples Center, a reversible jersey as well as the opportunity to take photos and mingle with Sparks players. The events goal was to promote life-long skills on and off the court.
Natalie White, Senior Vice President of the Sparks, said it’s not just about picking up a ball and throwing it in the hoop.
“It’s about learning the game of basketball and the game of life, and what it teaches you, on and off the court,” White said.
Beside the games, parents and spectators could browse vendor booths. Vendors from across Los Angeles County were selling everything from clothing to freshly baked cookies.
Champions of each division were recognized during Sunday’s game against the Chicago Sky. In its second installment, the event was a success not only for the Sparks organization, but for all involved.