By Anthony Richards
Jessica Spencer-Gardner has yet to coach her first game as head coach of women’s basketball at Ponte Vedra High, but she has already done her best to establish what she hopes will be an enduring brand.
Ponte Vedra High held a girls’ basketball clinic on October 8 in the school gymnasium. The clinic was divided into two segments with the morning session consisting of middle-aged girls and the afternoon session focusing on young people.
“I just see a need for girls’ basketball opportunities in our area,” Spencer-Gardner said. “That’s why we really wanted to uplift the young girls in our community. My goal is to use basketball to help build the next generation of strong, confident female leaders.
Not only did the clinic focus on developing a love of the game among young people in the community, but it also gave members of the current high school team the chance to teach and interact with these future Sharks.
According to Spencer-Gardner, there was so much to gain from the day for all involved.
“Ponte Vedra High basketball players are phenomenal leaders and players, so putting them in a position to be role models for the younger generation is great,” Spencer-Gardner said. “This game has given me so much and it’s full of life lessons to learn.”
Throughout the clinic, the message was clear: while basketball was the reason they were all there, it was about more than just the game.
“When you’re face to face with these little girls, you realize the impact you can have on their lives,” Spencer-Gardner said.
Every player in the high school program, both varsity and junior, attended and served as an instructor at one of the various skill stations set up around the gymnasium.
Charlsea Clark, who spent years coaching at the high school and college levels, has also helped Charlsea Clark, most recently last year as an assistant coach for the University of North Florida women’s basketball program.
Not only did Clark offer her expertise and guidance as an instructor, but she also provided some inspirational words and advice to the girls during part of the clinic.
Clark stressed the importance of having a relentless work ethic and approaching the game with respect and a selfless attitude.
“I really focused on leadership with my girls and what it means to be a leader,” Spencer-Gardner said. “It gives them the opportunity to take on a leadership role and lead by example and use their words to lift themselves up.”
Spencer-Garner took over as head coach of the Sharks in April and since then has enjoyed a smooth transition as she works to build her relationships with her players.
“I’m a relationship-oriented coach, so I told the girls from day one that I’ll be there for them 100 percent,” Spencer-Gardner said. “We created a lot of team bonds early on and I had fun with them. It’s just a great girl group. »