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Liberty Trio Inspire Youth in Dyckman Clinic

Carson, Stokes, and Swords teach youth clinic.



It was a hot day on the basketball courts of Dyckman in Upper New York. Under a 90 degree sky, 50 middle school kids were smiling. The New York Liberty were leading a youth clinic for the Dyckman Women’s Basketball Summer League co-presented with the Hospital for Special Surgery. The Liberty threesome on hand, Essence Carson, Carolyn Swords, and Kiah Stokes were met with collective excitement.

These are the types of events the Liberty players do on a regular basis. The unsung part of the women’s game that serves to inspire future women who grow up with a similar dream. The first phase included a group pose with all 50 girls and the Liberty players followed by a Q&A. We learned that all three Liberty members started as young or even younger than those in attendance concerning that dreams start early. Carolyn mentioned she started at age nine while Essence started playing with a team for the first time in sixth grade making her eleven years old. Kiah had the answer with the most insight. “I was in third grade but I didn’t call it basketball,” Kiah shared. “I just ran around in circles and threw it at the rim.”

The clinic then went into the teaching and practice phase. The kids were taught proper stretching exercises and tips to warm up properly with a series of drills that the Liberty players oversaw and led. The importance of doing preventive measures to avoid injury is crucial, something Essence Carson learned more about after her ACL tear two seasons ago at the Hospital of Special Surgery and the ensuing rehab.


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One of the players asked how they managed time to meet their goals. The mental and organizational aspect is as important as the physical gifts when it comes to basketball or in life. Carolyn Swords talked about her schedule during a year in her youth playing days. “I played with my high school team through the fall and spring then with my AAU team from spring almost every weekend, practicing two to three times a week, into the summer,” Carolyn recalled. “August was my time to manage this so I had a basketball hoop in my driveway and especially as post player it’s good to practice your post moves, get your footwork down, my ballet steps as my coach would call them.”

The Liberty players put the kids through a very long and vigorous workout during the afternoon. But in the end the lesson was sent. Good things come to those who work for it.  As Essence Carson would touch on to achieve a high level you must trade something in return. “It’s really simple. Class and basketball is all you have time for,” Essence responded. “You’re going to make a lot of friends who have time to party but you want to get to the next level you have to be willing to sacrifice your time and dedicate it to basketball and the classroom and that’s it in a nutshell.”

But the work and dedication shown in doing the drills by these middle school kids were not in vain. Hard work was rewarded in the end as Kiah, Carolyn, and Eseence signed everyone’s shirts and in addition the entire group was given two tickets to the next home game for the New York Liberty vs Chicago where they will face Elena Della Donne and the returning former Liberty Cappie Pondexter at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday August 11.


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