Two-time Eastern Conference Champion Atlanta Dream holds practice at Veterans High School

bpurser@macon.comMay 18, 2013 

KATHLEEN -- Thirteen-year-old Sydney Lambert said she picked up some tips Saturday from watching the two-time Eastern Conference Champion Atlanta Dream practice at Veterans High School.

The professional Women’s National Basketball Association team started its 2013 “Take the Show on the Road” campaign at the high school. The event included a full-team practice, a question-and-answer session with fans and team autographs.

Lambert, a seventh-grader at Bonaire Middle School, said the pointers she came away with are to keep her hands up on defense and to go strong for the rebound. She plays center for Bonaire Middle School’s girls basketball team.

Her grandparents, Rex and Vivian Ellington, also of Bonaire, joined Lambert in the stands.

“She interested in basketball, she’s a good player, and I wanted to give her the opportunity to have further insight into how the big girls play,” Rex Ellington said.

With the $15 admission per person to the event, Lambert and her grandparents also each received a ticket to an upcoming Dream game June 16 in Atlanta.

Also, Veterans High School received a $5 donation for each event ticket purchased, organizers said.

Natalie White, director of ticket sales and services for the team, said the event gives aspiring players and fans the opportunity to see how a professional team practices.

The women played against The Nightmares, an all-male practice squad that the women go up against against every day, organizers said. In the third of five 8-minute scrimmages Saturday, the women were ahead 46 to 41.

Jalyn Slaughter, 17, a Veterans High School junior who plays center for her school’s girls team, was impressed with how hard the Dream team plays at practice.

“It lets you know why they’re so good because they give it all they’ve got 100 percent of the time,” Slaughter said.

Emily Osborn, 17, also a junior at Veterans High School and a shooting guard on her school’s girls basketball team, said she’d like her team to start doing some of the pregame drills she witnessed Saturday.

Meanwhile, White, a 1991 graduate of Peach County High School, had some fans in tow. She was joined by her young cousin, 2-year-old Maxton, and her aunt Maxine Cherry. Cherry has been the girls basketball coach at Perry High School for 29 years. Cherry, of Byron, coached White when she played in high school.

“When my niece has a function, I try to make it,” said the admittedly proud Cherry. “I am a season ticket-holder, I love basketball and I love Dream.”

Anne Marie Armstrong, 22, of Norcross, is among 13 women now competing for 11 slots on the team. Two other women already have been eliminated. The final roster is expected May 23.

When Armstrong was asked if there was more pressure because she’s the only woman among the eleven from Georgia, she said, “I think it’s more a drive for me.

“Having grown up in Georgia, it’s a dream, and I’m hoping I’ll make it,” she said.

The 6-foot-3-inch-tall Armstrong, who played basketball for the women’s University of Georgia team, also offered some advice for aspiring players. That advice included work hard and believe you can do it.

“Don’t let anyone put you down,” she said.

For more information about the team, visit www.AtlantaDream.net. The complete 2013 schedule can be found at www.wnba.com/dream/schedule.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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