Hundreds of area kids flooded Nottingham Park last Thursday for the annual Brandywine Olympics, sponsored by the Brandywine Valley YMCA.
Held as a celebration for the end of the YMCA's summer camp program, the campers got to flex their muscles and test their endurance in a series of fun stations designed to promote teamwork and concentration.
The kids got an extra added incentive to give their all with a rousing introduction from former WNBA player Val Whiting.
Whiting entered the world of women's basketball in the early 1990's, where she played for teams overseas in Brazil, Italy and Israel before joining the WNBA. She was drafted by Detroit in the second round of the 1999 WNBA draft and was eventually traded to the Minnesota Lynx April 2001 for a second-round draft pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft. She is a graduate of Stanford University where she led second in scoring and was a participant in the 1992 Olympic trials and an alternate for the 1992 Olympic team.
At last Thursday's event, Whiting led the kids through a series of quick warm ups, and spoke to them about the challenges of her career in basketball.
Starting out at the age of 12, when she was 5'10, Whiting said she wanted to be a cheerleader at first.
"Way back when, to be a girl, most people wanted to do 'girl things' like cheerleading," she said. "I didn't know what I was doing."
After her math teacher asked to join the team, Whiting was one of 12 other players. As she improved, she saw that there was an opportunity for a career in sports and pursued basketball in college, eventually winning two NCAA National Championships and becoming one of only three women in the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame.
Keeping her remarks brief, Whiting also cited the importance of having an educated mind along with a strong healthy body.
The Brandywine Olympics features campers from all six area YMCA locations - Kennett Square, Jennersville, Twin Valley, West Chester, Octoraro and Brandywine. For more information on the Brandywine Valley YMCA branches, please www.ymcabwv.org.