The Flyers Pro Elite Women's Basketball Team is on its way to Elsberry, and not just for an exhibition game or a local fundraiser. In fact, the team is looking for a new home, and they are hoping that the Elsberry community is just the fit they have been looking for. Elsberry alumni Kari Koch-Dowell and Brittney Koch-Dowell approached the Elsberry R-II School Board during their Dec. 9 meeting and requested the use of the high school gym during the team's 2016 season.
The team, as well as the Women's Blue Chip Basketball League, the league that they play in, is geared toward athletes age 20 and above who no longer have NCAA eligibility.
'They have to be done with college basketball,' said Brittney during a telephone interview with The Elsberry Democrat. The league is comprised of 40 teams from across the United States who square off against one another during a season that generally lasts from May until August. Games are held on Saturday and sometimes Sunday evenings at 7 or 8 p.m.
There are a total of seven teams in the WBCBL Midwest Region that the Flyers will be competing in, including teams from Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
However, they will also be playing other teams from throughout the country that aren't in their region. 'We're sort of a feeder for international basketball and for players who are still looking to make it into the WNBA,' said Brittney.
Brittney is the owner and coach of the team, which at one point was headquartered in Alabama and known as the Auburn Flyers. She said they became known as simply the Flyers Pro Elite during the team's fourth year in Alabama due to the fact that people were confusing them with Auburn University. 'That kind of hurt us a little bit,' said Brittney. She added, however, that the team would now love to incorporate Elsberry into its name. 'We won't do it unless the community wants it to happen,' said Brittney.
She stressed to the board that the team wants to be here for the long-run and not just for the 2016 season. 'We want to bring the best athletes out to the Elsberry community and give back to the youth in the area,' said Brittney. As part of that giving back, Brittney said the team plans to do a lot of free clinics and camps, and to mentor young people in the community in whatever ways are available. Brittney plans to have the team's schedule completed by January and told the board she is anticipating that between eight and nine games will be played in Elsberry's high school gym, while the remainder will take place on the road.
She added that the team would pay to rent the gym and would also provide staff and security in accordance with the guidelines of the WBCBL. Admission to the games is expected to cost approximately $5. Brittney told the board that 30 percent of anything that comes in the door will go directly to the school, as will a portion of what is made on concessions.
As an added draw, she mentioned that Kari is actually a member of the Flyers and will be participating in the games. Brittney said this creates an opportunity for those in the community who watched Kari play in high school to come out and see the growth in her skill set. Kari said she plans to assume coaching responsibilities with the team as soon as they have won the national tournament again. 'I want to win one more title,' said Kari.
The Flyer's request was approved by the board and Brittney said they couldn't be more excited. She added that, in addition to the appeal of returning to Kari's home turf, the team had another reason for wanting to play in Elsberry. 'I've researched the area,' said Brittney. 'Elsberry loves the game of basketball. They are fanatics.'
- The Elsberry Democrat