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Sports Article
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Former WNBA Star Stresses Hard Work at Basketball Camp
Written by Bradley Schlegel Correspondent

Former professional basketball player Debbie Black works with Ashlyn Gatto at the Teamwork Wins Basketball Skills and Drills Camp for girls taking place this week and next at Perkiomen School.

        At 5-foot-3, Debbie Black does not resemble a former professional basketball player. However, she parlayed a tireless work ethic into 18 seasons competing in Australia, Italy and the United States.

        Black posted the only quadruple-double in the history of women's professional basketball. She collected 10 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists and 10 steals for the Colorado Xplosion, of the American Basketball League, on Dec. 8, 1996. 

        During a seven-year career in the WNBA, she was named the 2001 Defensive Player of the Year with the Miami Sol and earned the nickname 'The Pest.' Black considers the moniker an honor.  "I drove the opposition crazy," she said.

        On Tuesday, Black led a session at the Teamwork Wins Basketball Skills and Drills Camp for girls between third and seventh grade at Perkiomen School. A Warminster native, she taught campers ball-handling and dribbling.

        Black also attempted to convey the importance of hard work in basketball and life to the girls.

        "Nobody ever worked harder than me," Black told the campers, sitting on the gym floor at Perkiomen School watching her highlight reel. "If you work hard, you give yourself a chance to succeed in basketball and life."

        Approximately 15 girls participated in the two-week camp, which intends to provide a unique two-sided approach to athletics in a team format.

        Campers learned about ball handling and dribbling, shooting, rebounding, passing, defense, foul shooting, conditioning, visualization, skills competition and scrimmages.

        Black told the participants not to focus on putting the ball in the basket.  "Stick to the other fundamentals, and the scoring will take care of itself," she said.

        Teamwork Wins, a 15-year-old non-profit organization guiding individuals in becoming self-directed, self-monitoring, self-sustaining, creative and free thinking, assists individuals with invisible challenges, according to Adele Saccarelli Cavallaro, its founder and executive director.

        She said those invisible challenges could include sensory issues like ADHD or Asperger's or something as simple as a lack of confidence, difficulties with teamwork or an inability to focus or communicate.

        Cavallaro says she felt motivated to start the camp for her 11-year-old granddaughter, Kira Kirschner.  "There was nowhere for girls her age to learn about basketball, or other sports," Cavallaro said.

        Black, the head women's basketball coach at Eastern Illinois University, accepted an invitation from Cavallaro to provide instruction at the camp. The two played basketball together at Archbishop Wood High School 30 years ago.

        After leading the campers in a series of dribbling drills, Black told them to hustle and communicate on the floor.

        "It's all about effort," she said. "Go as hard as you can and let the chips fall where they may. Coaches notice players who run off the floor to get their water bottle."

        At St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, Black helped the team make four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Her professional career began in Tasmania, Australia in the WNBL.

        In 1999, the Utah Jazz selected her 15th overall in the WNBA Draft, and she ended her career in 2005 with the Connecticut Sun.






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