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
Ernesia Wideman-Wright returns to the WBCBL as the team owner of the newly formed Georgia Soul of Grovetown, Georgia.
Over the past 10 years, Ms. Wright has traveled the globe playing and coaching basketball while serving in the United States Army. With over 20 years of experience in coaching and training players on the AAU, high school, and collegiate levels, Ms. Wright decided it was time to take it to the next level, Professional Development.
"There is an abundance of talented young ladies in the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA). I want to help these young ladies fulfill their dreams and give back to my community by building a legacy of positive role models for the younger generation to emulate." – Ms. Wright
Ms. Wright’s minor league career in the WBCBL (Women's Blue Chip Basketball League) has spanned from the east to the west coast, playing two years for the Augusta Blaze (2006, 2009) and in Seattle with the Seattle Express and the Lakewood Panthers (2011-2013). In 2012 she was selected for the All- Army Women's Basketball team.
Her 2-year professional career in Romania from 2006-2008 resulted in twice being named to the All-Star Team and Imports All-Defensive Team.
While in college, Ms. Wright led the 2004 Augusta State University women's basketball team to its best year in school history, going 24-8. That season finished with an appearance at the NCAA Division II Elite 8 in St. Joseph, Missouri, where they finished with a national top 10 ranking. While at ASU, Ms. Wright earned All-Conference and All-Region player honors as well as being named ASU's Female Athlete of the Year in 2004. A scoring point guard, Ms. Wright finished her career with 12th in the ASU all-time record books in scoring, 5th in assists and 4th in steals. And as expected, she also had a stellar career at Lucy C. Laney High School where she received numerous local, state and regional recognition and awards.
In addition to her playing experience, Ernesia has professional working experience as a Probation Officer, a Corrections Officer, and a public school Paraprofessional. Ms. Wright now resides in her home town with her amazing husband Rocardo Wright. She will complete her Masters of Human Resources Degree in May of 2016 from Webster University.
The Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League names Mrs. Jacqueline Walker-Thompson as the WBCBL Northeast Regional Director.
Ms. Walker-Thompson has been a valued member of the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League for over 6 years as co-owner of the Cleveland Crush Women’s Basketball Club.
The hometown Cleveland, Ohio native graduated from John Adams High School in Cleveland, Ohio with a 4.0 grade point average as a math major. She went on to earn a degree in accounting from Sawyer Business College. Ms. Walker-Thompson has worked for over 25 years as an Accounting Manager/ Payroll Supervisor in the field of Accounting and Finance.
Ms. Walker-Thompson is also celebrating 20 years of marriage with her husband, Reginald Thompson. Their family includes 2 daughters; Britney (WBCBL Player) and Tarsha, 3 sons; Wayne, Fabian and Darius, and 14 grandchildren.