Of the approximately 430,000 female basketball players in high school, roughly only 6.4% will continue to play in college. The odds of a female athlete playing NCAA Division I basketball is 84:1.
For the girls playing with the 17 teams of the Northwest Magic, 100% of them receive offers to play at the next level.
Located in the state of Washington, the Northwest Magic was founded in 2009 by former University of Oregon standout Vanessa Selden-McClendon. Vanessa is third on the all-time scoring list at Oregon.
So just what exactly is Vanessa doing differently that allows her and the Magic to deliver sustained success for female basketball players in Washington?
“We have one goal, and really we strive to hit that ultimate goal in everything we do,” she said. “Our goal is to get all of our girls to the next level.”
Here are 4 ways the Magic Premier Youth Basketball Program is hitting its ultimate goal.
Create Smart Long-Term On The Court Goals
The youth basketball industry can get pretty intense. The workload for players, coaches, and directors, as well as parents, can sometimes be downright rigorous.
From coast to coast, some teams can play as many as three or four tournaments a month for three or four straight months. Vanessa questions this idea of playing in multiple local or regional tournaments just because you want to play in tournaments.
“At the end of the day, what’s the point,” she asks. “For us, playing in tournaments just to play in tournaments doesn’t help achieve our goal.” Instead, the Magic spend time training, scrimmaging, and prepping at Blue Star Basketball Camps.
For over 25 years, Blue Star has been considered the country’s premier experience in girl’s high school basketball. Blue Star has the largest database of college women’s basketball coaches in the country among all levels. Over 70% of the top high school female basketball players in the country have attended Blue Star over the last decade.
By spending more time with college coaches and scouts at Blue Star, and less time at local and regional tournaments, Magic players are more exposed to colleges and better prepared to play in elite US Junior National Events.
Blue Star National Evaluator : Chris Mennig to attend March 25-26 USJN Tournament in Tacoma, WA – – https://t.co/kRmLdB8Q0B
— NorthWest MAGIC (@NWMGB) March 14, 2017
Follow Up With a Strong Off the Court Plan
Putting the time on the court in front of college coaches and scouts is important. But it’s also imperative to have a sound long term plan off the court for female basketball players to get offers.
To help with some of the recruiting heavy lifting, about 80% of the players in the program use Captain U. Used by over 2 million people around the nation, Captain U aids high school athletes, coaches, parents, and teams in finding the perfect college fit. Many colleges are beginning to use the tool as well.
“It’s a really good platform for players,” she said. “Players input their information, such as position, or year you graduate, and then that information is matched with colleges. It’s really a great place to start and weed out schools very early in the process. Plus, it really helps the parents and the girls set more realistic expectations.”
There’s also a very specific plan put in place for each girl in the Magic. Research on schools begins during freshman year. By the athlete’s sophomore year, they should have their selections down to 20 schools. By the end of their junior year, she should be at 10. When the senior year starts, she should be at five schools and be taking visits. The decision should be made by November.
Build a Family Culture
The Magic’s success on the court is sweet. But perhaps what Vanessa is most proud of is the girls’ off the court successes.
“We’re building good people. We have a saying here. Magic, Family, Together.”
To ensure that a family is built off the court, Vanessa surrounds herself with staff members, coaches, and leaders that have a passion for girl’s basketball and teaching life lessons through sport. Everyone in the staff must be focused on developing and highlighting the woman’s game.
At times, college players that come home for summer or winter break are usually the first ones to show up to the high school girls’ teams practices. Some even guest coach for a limited time. The Magic recently hired a former player as a new coach. Vanessa’s excitement could hardly be contained.
“It really feels great, when things come full circle and a former player is now a coach. I’m proud of the way our girls have truly embraced the ‘pay it forward’ mentality. They feel like they are forever a part of this team and their passion for the Magic is clear years after they’ve graduated.”
Match The Program Success With A Technology Platform
The power of technology has really helped scale the Magic and allowed Vanessa to focus on growing the game of women’s basketball in Washington.
Over the last three years, the Magic experimented with several different technology solutions to solve some of the challenges they were experiencing. One solution helped the Magic create a beautiful website, but scheduling and registration issues piled up. Another helped with just communication but wasn’t optimized for her needs and what the Magic needed to achieve their goals.
“I needed a technology platform to match the product on the court,” she said. “LeagueApps has definitely done that for the Magic. I haven’t even scratched the surface yet with what’s offered. And everyone has been so amazing in getting us set up so quickly.”
Keep delivering that Magic Pride to the next level, Vanessa.