At Girls State Tournament, WIAA Looks to Inspire Next Generation - WBAY

At Girls State Tournament, WIAA Looks to Inspire Next Generation

Ashwaubenon -

As championship games are underway Saturday for the WIAA girls basketball tournament at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon, a new program is trying to keep elementary girls involved.

The WIAA paired each team Saturday with elementary players from the Green Bay area, trying to inspire a future in girls basketball.

"It was really cool," Emma Ruys said, an elementary student from West De Pere. "We were getting the balls for them and helping them out."

The reason, WIAA officials say, is a decline in high school girls basketball participation statewide.

"It's very concerning to me, and I think I'm now getting the attention of the coaches of well," Deb Hauser said, WIAA's associate director. "We thought if we gave little kids in the area a taste of what it might be like that someday they would aspire to be here and play in the state tournament."

Elementary students watched on the court as each team warmed up.

"I thought it was really cool," Izabella Romandine said, a student at West De Pere. "So when I got into third grade, I started doing it."

Coaches see the benefit too.

"Any opportunity like this for them to see older girls playing just encourages them to keep coming out and playing."

It's a new way the WIAA is working to keep a Wisconsin tradition alive.

"It wasn't only the smiles of the little girls," Hauser said. "It was the smiles on the players playing today. When those older girls saw those younger girls and they were excited, the smiles just blossomed."

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