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'Recruiters Don't Like to Come to My Neighborhood'

January 24, 1998

L. Camille Norwood is senior guard on the Washington Preparatory High School girls' basketball team. Street & Smith's, a magazine that dubs itself "America's sports Bible for previews and predictions," gave her an honorable mention on its All-American list of girls' high school basketball players. She has a 3.28 grade point average and averages 22.5 points per game. Norwood has recived no scholarship offers. She talked to MARY REESE BOYKIN about being an athlete in the inner city.

I started playing basketball when I was five. My mother and other family members would say, "You can go places." When I entered Washington Prep as a 9th grader, my goal was to do whatever it took to got a scholarship. I have maintained a B average, taken the core courses and made a qualifying score on the SAT.

For three years, Julie Rosseau, now coach of the WNBA's L. A. Sparks, was my coach. She was always in my ears, preaching. "It is harder in college than it is now." she would say. She insisted that we keep our grades up and be prepared. We had to do right, for she was preparing us for something bigger. Kim Thy and Michelle Tucker , now the head co-coaches, are keeping up the tradition.

But a reality we inner-city girls face is that we aren't viewed too favorably by many local universities. Some people think that we play off the top of our head, just go with the flow. They don't realize that we are fundamentally sound. Others think that we are uncoachable, athletes with bad attitudes who don't listen and do things our way. But know that I am coachable, that I listen, and do whatever the coach tells me.

The honorable mention as an All-American hasn't brought me much attention. Not many recruiters from local universities have come to our games, which usually start at 5 p.m. I think that they feel it is unsafe to come to our neighborhoods.

I know that, given my skills and competitive spirit, I could have improved my chances of getting a scholarship if I had played on a traveling team in the Amateur Athletics Union. In fact, that's how most girls get college basketball scholarships because coaches nationally attend the AAU tournaments. But these teams are too expensive for me (cost cand range between $2,000 $4,000 annually). Last December, when my team attended a four-day tournament in Las Vegas, it cost each player $400. Without fund-raisers, we could not have attended.

In recent months, recruiters from Old Dominion University and the University of Nebraska have talked with me. CSUN is very interested in me. Three of my former teammates are members of the team. Also, two parents have sent out letters to several universities to help me get a scholarship.

If I don't get an athletic scholarship, I will attend a community college because it is the only higher education my family can afford. But I am not discouraged. I have a season ahead of me. There is always hope. I am holding on to hope.

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