Province recognizes local talent

By Jolene Perron

Olivia Starling. 13, will be representing Amherstburg in Toronto for a Bantam Development Program (BDP).

Starling began her athletic career at the age of four by playing hockey. It wasn’t until the second grade when she was encouraged to try basketball. Shortly after, Starling’s passion for the game began to grow.

It was Starling’s travel basketball coach who sent a e-mail to her mother, Jennifer Starling, encouraging them to try out.

“We saw one was in Leamington and we just thought, well, why not.” said Jennifer.

The BDP was first designed to help prepare young athletes to play in higher levels of competition and is designed in three stages for girls ages 11 – 13.

The first stage wa a series of open try-outs, which are held in different regions of Ontario. Starling tried out in the St. Clair region. The tryouts were free and fell on three different dates in three separate locations. Out of about 90 girls, Starling said, 30 were selected to proceed to stage two.

In the second stage, the 30 athletes trained for 30 hours. The cost for this was $200 and included in the cost was a reversible basketball jersey for the girls to keep. The athletes also participated in training specific to their ages, which is designed by elite Ontario. Towards the end of the training session, six athletes were chosen.

Those six athletes then moved on to stage three, which included all the athletes from each region coming together in Toronto at Humber College from July 10 through 13. This also costs an additional $250 and also includes Nike shoes, shorts, meals and any other accommodations at camp.

Olivia Starling. 13, will be representing Amherstburg in Toronto for a Bantam Development Program

Starling was chosen to go to Toronto as top six in the region. She is the only one from Windsor/Essex County, as the other five girls hail from Chatham and Sarnia.

Jennifer and her son will be accompanying the young basketball star in her trip to Toronto, staying in a near-by hotel. Jennifer said she is excited and yet still wary about Starling’s trip, as it is her first time at an overnight camp.

Starling and her mother both said they expected nothing out of the tryouts, they just thought it would be a fun experience.

“It was kind of a surprise that I made it, because I went there expecting nothing, and knowing that I’m the only one from our county, it’s just awesome,” said Starling.

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