Straight ballin’! WNBA pros join Prospect Heights students for recess

Pass it: Evan Eliassaint, left, and Ashley Battle played field hockey at PS 9 when she and other players stopped by the school for a surprise recess.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

Talk about hoop dreams!

Pint-sized athletes at a Prospect Heights elementary school got a taste of the big leagues when pros with the Women’s National Basketball Association recently joined the kids for recess.

The Feb. 6 get together gave the fourth- and fifth-graders a chance to get out and play with positive role models — who took it easy on their competition, and provided plenty of positive feedback, according to the woman who helped organize the meetup.

“There were no aggressive slam dunks against fourth graders,” said Deborah Brodheim, the director of development for Playworks, a do-good group that promotes athletics in schools. “It’s about being out there, and lots and lots of high fives.”

Former players with hometown squad the New York Liberty, including Ashley Battle, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, and Teresa Weatherspoon, along with Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud and the head of WNBA League Operations Bethany Donaphin, joined 300 aspiring athletes on the blacktop behind Underhill Avenue’s PS 9 to celebrate National Women and Girls in Sports Day.

The special guests forwent any inspirational lectures and got right down to business during the 25-minute play time, shooting hoops with some kids, while joining others in classic recess favorites including four square and tag, according to Playworks bigwig Kim McCall.

The athletes’ visit is one of many physical-education programs the do-good group stages at the local learning house, where Playworks staff regularly arrange recess programing and other athletics-based after-school initiatives, McCall said.

“PS 9 is a long-time partner of Playworks,” she said. “We focus a lot on recess and after-school sports leagues.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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