Syd in Honduras – a “risky trip”

For most of the summer Syd has been on campus at Louisville taking classes, working out and doing rehab on her knee. She took a break this week to go on a mission trip to Honduras with her mother’s church. They will be doing construction work and providing a shoe ministry.

The Courier-Journal, a newspaper in Louisville, ran an article on her trip. I thought that was great that they would take the time to promote Syd and her fellow travellers in this ways – until I looked at the title of said article – Sydney takes “a risky ministry trip.” Not the thing that parents want to read about.

This is a good opportunity for her and I know she is excited to be able to participate. Here’s the text of the article. I’m sure all those who are taking part in the trip and their family members back at home would appreciate prayers while they serve in Honduras.

At the time of year most teammates are on campus and focused on basketball, Louisville women’s player Sydney Brackemyre on Friday left for a city often referred to as the murder capital of the world.

The Ohio native’s home church raised $10,000 to build a worship space in a small town outside of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and with it the group took hundreds of shoes for children in the impoverished Central America nation.

“My family has just always been about service, and it’s something really important to me,” said Brackemyre, who redshirted her freshman season at U of L after suffering a preseason knee injury. “In high school, I was always so busy and working hard. I never got to go outside the country. So when this came up through my home church…I really just couldn’t turn it down.

“Coach (Jeff) Walz has been amazing letting me go because this is the time everybody is getting better. But he’s letting me go and get off campus, so I’m really grateful for that.”

Brackemyre’s trip will tally nine to 10 days, with a week in Honduras bookended by lengthy travel there. Inspired by her grandfather, who has ministered in South America and Asia, the 6-foot-1 forward said her group from Countryside Church of the Nazarene will construct the first such facility in the area.

“It’s somwhere where they really need a church,” she said. “We want to show them love and compassion — reach out to them and know this church will be available to them.”

Mostly, Brackemyre plans to work with area children, who attend a half day of school and will then open up their days to the Countryside Church group. That’s where the 500 or so pairs of shoes come in. Brackemyre and other ministers will wash kids’ feet and gift what, for some, my be their first pieces of proper footwear.

She also has planned games and activities, one in which the former five-star recruit may get to show off a bit.

“My goal is to do a sort of basketball camp,” Brackemyre said. “We’re going to take a ball and see if there’s a rim or court around there. I’d love to show the kids and teach them. I know resources are slim, but that’s something I’d love to do.”

Brackemyre still has an eye on the upcoming season. She passed a number of clearance tests the last two weeks toward a return to full playing strength back from a torn ACL and meniscus in her left knee.

“My trainers have done a really good job making sure I’m equipped to go and won’t be losing anything while I’m over there,” she said. “When I come back, I should be ready to go.”

ESPNW Features UofLWBB and Mariya Moore

10455072This past Sunday, the Louisville Women’s Basketball team overcame a 10 point deficit and a bunch of turnovers to defeat #17 ranked North Carolina. It was televised on ESPN2 and showed what a great program Louisville has. There were over 13,000 at the KFC Yum! Center to watch the game and cheer on the Cards. It’s a great environment for basketball.

The team responded well in the second half and were led by one of the freshmen, Mariya Moore. She had a great game and scored a season high 28 points. ESPNW featured Mariya and the team on their Weekend Wrap. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the article, you can see it on the ESPNW Weekend Wrap.

U of L Women’s Basketball Summer Update

20130209-191655.jpgSince the first part of June, the U of L women’s team has been conditioning and practicing getting ready for the school year and the start of the season. Coach Walz held a press conference today giving an update on the team. With the recent success of the team and the departure of several seniors, he talked about where the team is going next in light of joining the ACC this season.

There is a video of the press conference and some cute pics of Coach Walz’s little girl on the Courier-Journal site.

The Courier-Journal posted this article today.

Louisville’s women’s basketball team faces a major task in 2014-15: Replacing several major pieces of a team that reached the Elite 8 a year after making the national championship game.

On Tuesday, U of L coach Jeff Walz said his program is on task and headed in the right direction, despite the challenges presented by the departures of WNBA All-Star Shoni Schimmel, standout forward Asia Taylor and two other key seniors.

Having five freshmen ready to play is a big factor in that transition, Walz said.

“I’m really excited about where they are now and even more excited about where they’ll be in two or three months,” Walz said.

The freshman class is built around wing Mariya Moore, a McDonald’s All-American who will play for the USA under-18 team this summer. Walz is an assistant coach for that team.

Moore and fellow freshmen Sydney Brackemyre, Arica Carter, Ariana Freeman and Myisha Hines-Allen join a returning core of seniors that includes forward Sara Hammond and guards Jude Schimmel and Bria Smith.

Louisville is losing four of its top five scorers from last season, but Hammond (10.4 points per game), Smith (7.6) and Schimmel (5.6) scored their share. Hammond was the second-leading rebounder on the team; Schimmel was second in assists.

“I’m expecting more of them,” Walz said of his seniors. “I’m really excited to see what our returning players are going to do.”

Hammond in particular will play a key role this upcoming season. The 6-foot-2 post won the FIBA 3-on-3 world championships this summer, and Walz hopes that experience will translate to a larger leadership role at U of L.

“She learned to play quicker,” he said, noting that the 3-on-3 shot clocks are 12 seconds. “It really worked on her in terms of the speed of things. She’s going to have to be a leader for us. She’s got everything you need in that role.”

Walz said guards Starr Breedlove and Monny Niamke decided to transfer, though they haven’t found landing spots yet. Neither played major roles on last season’s team.

He also said Louisville’s nonconference schedule includes matchups at California and at home against Kentucky, in addition to games against Iowa, Western Kentucky and Belmont.

That slate precedes Louisville’s first season in the ACC, which Walz called, “top to bottom, without a doubt the best league in the country.”

National runner-up Notre Dame is the team to beat, with Louisville, North Carolina, Duke and Syracuse each possessing programs that regularly challenge for league titles.

But joining a new league won’t change what U of L does, Walz said, whether it’s on the court or recruiting prospects.

“It’s going to be fun,” Walz said. “It really makes for an enjoying X’s and O’s time … You’ve got to come to play every night in the ACC.”