AAU basketball off the ground in Yadkin County

By Jim Fuller jfuller@civitasmedia.com

July 12, 2014

BOONVILLE — Sitting on the sideline at Starmount High School, Stephanie Nichols looks on as Paul Hoover conducts his ProShot Basketball Camp for about 20 boys and for exactly two girls.

One of those two girls is her daughter, Emily — a rising fifth-grader.

There’s a gleam in her eye — the passion for basketball unmistakable. She coached recreational-league basketball for seven years in Wilkes County; and coached the North Wilkes Middle School and Mountainview Elementary girls’ teams after playing for North Wilkes High School “many moons ago,” she said with a smile.

Her husband, Brandon, and her daughters (the older daughter, Faith, is a 10th-grader involved in volleyball) moved to Yadkin County five years ago. “I love the sport,” Nichols said.

Nichols’ interest is for Yadkin County girls to have the opportunity to play basketball on an equal footing with those surrounding communities. “Everybody around us is building,” Nichols said, referring to the Wilkes Diamonds, the Surry Storm, and the Winston-Salem Stealers. .

With that in mind, Nichols started an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball team — the Yadkin Elite. The team is the only AAU team in Yadkin County.

The team, fourth- and fifth-grade girls, began play this past February. The next edition, a team for fifth- and sixth-grade girls, is starting up again next month. Nichols will expose the team to a more ambitious schedule that will begin in October and end in May.

Tryouts will take place Aug. 10 at 4 p.m. at Starmount Middle School. Nichols said it is perfectly fine if a player is from a contiguous county and wants to play for the Elite. She said she’d love to “build our community with Yadkinville, Elkin and Jonesville.”

The middle school has afforded the Elite a place to play and practice. “Rick Swaim (the SMS principal) has been amazing,” Nichols said. “He’s backed us 110 percent. That helps. You have to have somewhere to practice.

“I know we have the talent,” she continued. “We’ve just got to find it and learn how to use it. We’re looking to add four or five girls.”

Nichols said she has eight players returning. “The girls I have have worked so hard,” she said. “My little girl plays softball and volleyball, but I want basketball to be their main goal.

“I just need their commitment to my team. We want all 10 or 12 of these girls … to be committed for each other.”

The team, she said, will play eight tournaments — usually one-day tournaments on Saturday — between October and May.

“It’s a long, hard season,” she said. “Parents have to be committed. We play in Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston-Salem. We’ll try to go no more than an-hour-and-a-half away from home.”

More information about the Elite can be found at www.eteamz.com/yadkinelite/.

Jim Fuller may be reached at 336-835-1513 or Twitter @elkinareasports.