Saturday, 08 May 2021

Rockets U18 girls shoot for the stars

NOW in its fifth year, The Henley College Basketball Academy in partnership with Reading Rockets continues to go from strength

NOW in its fifth year, The Henley College Basketball Academy in partnership with Reading Rockets continues to go from strength to strength.

A highly successful year has been reinforced by seven players representing national team programmes this season.

The year has been particularly special for college student and Rockets star Luke Nelson, who recently wrapped up the England Basketball Division 1 League Championship, has signed a Division 1 scholarship with University California Irvine and is setting his sights on the Division A European Championships with the England U18s.

Following closely in his footsteps is Freya Szmidt. After representing the south region at the start of the year Freya has gone on to be part of the England U18 squad. Having represented the side in an international tournament in Belgium over Christmas, Freya will be looking to secure a spot on the final roster for a trip to the Division A European Championship.

Rhiane Szmidt, Freya’s twin sister, also represented the England U18 girls in Belgium and is now part of the New Horizons England Development squad, alongside Eloise Sneddon. Liam Carpenter and Tolu Awojobi are part of the male development squad. Denisa Molnar became the academy’s first player to represent an overseas nation, who received a call-up for Romania.

Head coach JP Campbell said: “The high level of academic study and the wide variety of courses the college provides, and the offer of hosting players with local families has meant we have been able to attract top-level players such as Luke Nelson. The Academy is truly becoming global in its reputation.”

THE Reading Rockets U18 Girls’ side, featuring six players from The Henley College, has enjoyed an excellent season culminating in them reaching the play-offs for the first time in the club’s history.

U18 Girls’ head coach Jenni Phillips has been pleased with her side’s performances but knows that there is still a lot of work to do in the coming weeks. She said: “The girls have achieved a lot this year and having six players at The Henley College Basketball Academy has certainly made a difference as you can see they have improved very quickly over the year.

“Most of the girls are still in the first year of U18 and the Academy which makes their achievement even greater and their potential for next year even more exciting. We’ll certainly be looking forward to seeing these girls develop over the next year.”

One of the key areas of the team has been the core of players at The Henley College Basketball Academy, run in partnership with Reading Rockets.

With four of the girls involved in national team programmes and five featuring on England Basketball’s Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE), head coach JP Campbell explained that the addition of the girls at the Academy has proven highly successful. “After having so much success with developing the boys it’s great to see the girls getting in on the act as well. The benefits of the Academy have been evident in the players’ individual achievements as well as those of the team.

“We are certainly very proud of the girls and what they have achieved.”

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