Young athletes attending OCC’s Basketball Camp in Allyn Hall gymnasium got the thrill of a lifetime when an unexpected visitor arrived. Loud cheers and applause greeted Breanna Stewart, arguably the best collegiate Women’s Basketball player in the country. In her first two season with the University of Connecticut, the Huskies have won two national championships and Stewart has been named the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player both times.
Stewart held a question-and-answer session with campers. Most questions focused on basketball, but there was the occasional non-basketball question such as, “Do you like tacos?” “Yes I do!” she replied. After answering questions, the 6’ 4″ Stewart towered over awe-struck young women as she patiently signed autographs for each of the 80 campers and posed for dozens of cell phone pictures.
Having the opportunity to meet a champion made quite an impression on the campers:
- “It inspires me to be better and live up to my full potential as Breanna did.” -Allison Cole
- “I’m not going to be as tall as her but I hope one day I can go into the WNBA. She’s really good and I hope I can be at least half of that.” -Alexia Chemotti
They weren’t the only ones having fun. Stewart got just as much out of the visit. “I love the opportunity to spend time in the community and give back,” she said. “I want to show people, especially young girls in this community, they can reach their dreams if they really set their minds to it.”
Stewart’s visit to OCC was the result of a strong connection between the College and Cicero-North Syracuse High School from where Stewart graduated. Her high school coach, Eric Smith, spoke at camp earlier in the week. OCC’s Women’s Basketball coach Mike Wheeler is a C-NS alum, and a freshman on his team this year will be Samantha Roberts, a former high school teammate of Stewart. “Having Breanna come to our camp was wonderful,” said Wheeler. “She’s a fantastic person and a tremendous role model for all women’s basketball players.”