As part of the second annual Jr. WNBA Week, July 20-30th, all WNBA teams and select NBA teams will celebrate youth basketball by hosting events throughout the country. The celebration will tip off at WNBA All-Star with a clinic led by WNBA All-Stars for girls ages 10-14 from local community groups across Seattle.
Earlier this summer, the Jr. NBA celebrated youth coaches throughout the country by honoring each NBA teams selected Jr. NBA Coach of the Year. The winner of the award was Coach Carrie Berran, who volunteered to share her youth coaching story and her relationship with the Minnesota Timerwolves and Minnesota Lynx.
At the 2017 NBA Awards Show, youth basketball coach Carrie Berran received the first annual Jr. NBA Coach of the Year award. For Coach Berran, the inspiration she passes along to her players is drawn from her own coach.
Coach Berran’s high school basketball coach, Janelle DiMartino, created a connection that extended beyond the court.
“[She] was just amazing,” Berran recalled. “She was smart. She knew the game. She knew how to teach the skills. But she cared as much about our time off the court as she did on it.”
After describing fun memories from annual basketball Christmas parties, Coach Berran remembered babysitting for her coach’s kids and eventually having Coach DiMartino become her Confirmation sponsor.
“She really cared about you as a person,” Berran said. “She’s one of the people I channel a lot when I’m coaching. She made basketball my favorite sport.”
Coach Berran has taken that passion for basketball and turned it into a celebration, encouraging as many kids as possible to get involved in sports to learn lifelong lessons.
“Sports turned me into who I am today,” Berran anxiously explains. Her work ethic is blatantly clear as words like tenacious, passion and teamwork are a consistent part of Coach Berran’s vernacular.
As Jr. WNBA Week tips off, Coach Berran is eager to dive into how sports translate into a winning attitude for both males and females in high school, college and the workplace by instilling leadership fundamentals at an early age.
“I think it’s important for girls to learn teamwork and leadership on the court,” Berran said. “Sports are still looked at as more of a male-dominated field and that’s definitely something I’d like to change.”
An essential element to the success of youth basketball is the growth of quality volunteer coaches. Coach Berran, like the majority of youth coaches, has never been paid to coach. But that hasn’t stopped her from developing deep connections throughout her local basketball community.
Coach Berran, who began two years ago as the association president in the Eagen Athletic Association, was honored by the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx for her hard work.
Developing a cohesive coaching community of volunteers in the area has opened opportunities for young players to learn the game of basketball and even attend Timberwolves and Lynx games!
“We’ve had such a great response from the people in our community,” Berran said. “They’ve embraced us.”
As more and more girls discover their love of basketball, Coach Berran intends to show them they have what it takes to excel one day at a time.
“Hopefully the girls I am coaching see that this is something they can do too,” Berran begins. “You have to be tenacious. You have to go for it. There’s going to be setbacks. You can’t listen to people who tell you, ‘You can’t do this.’ The lessons that you learn are in the hard work.”