Dylan Scott | July 29, 2020, 9:57 PM
Local standouts start Crossover for Change
COLORADO SPRINGS — More than 8,000 miles separate Colorado Springs from the country of Uganda, but when it's a cause near and dear to your heart, no distance is too far.
"It's a huge opportunity and I think all of us involved get the opportunity to build relationships with these girls and teach them and learn from them and play a sport we all love," Colorado Springs School's Mia Chavez said.
Spearheaded by standout female athletes from the Colorado Springs School, St. Mary's, and Coronado, the Crossover for Change foundation was created earlier this year.
"I had a lot of success and built a lot of relationships being able to share that with other people, it means a lot," St. Mary's senior Josephine Howery said.
It's mission: To foster confidence, empowerment, and leadership for young women in Uganda through the sport of basketball.
"We just want to make the greatest change we can and really make a beneficial change in these girl's lives," Coronado senior Anna Griffin said.
Having raised more than $14,000 of their $26,000 goal, the money will be used towards the creation of courts, new equipment, uniforms, and clinics for two local schools in need of a serious assist.
"I know that the girls in Uganda that we're going to work with are going to benefit from the lessons learned through basketball," Colorado Springs School's Kate Griffin said.
Next summer, these talented ladies hope to make the trip to Africa to assist and instruct players on the newly created courts.
"Just the opportunity to be on the court and play with these girls is what I'm most looking forward to," Howery said.
It's an ambitious goal for some of Southern Colorado's finest stars but one they plan to continue to pour their time and resources into. Bringing their passion to less fortunate communities in Africa and possibly around the world.
"If we can get that done and help girls in Uganda with their confidence and make the life that they want we'd love to bring it to other developing countries too and build it beyond there," Coronado senior Paige Richter said.
If you'd like to learn more about the foundation, its members or find out how you can donate, click the link: Crossover For Change
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Basketball has a way of connecting people on a global scale. The uniform rules and poetic simplicity of the game has a way of eliciting the same emotional reactions in kids all over, whether it's from the United States or a country such as Uganda.
Recently, a group of of girls basketball players from Colorado decided that they could use basketball as a means of connecting with those in countries less fortunate than America.
Spearheaded by Colorado Springs School assistant girls basketball coach Caleb Strickland, the Crossover for Change Foundation was established.
The mission is straightforward: "Fostering confidence, empowerment and leadership for young women in Uganda through the sport of basketball."
"Eric Richter - the father of Cameron Richter, one of the girls involved - has been going over and volunteering in hospitals and doing workshops in western Uganda for about seven years now," Strickland said. "Somebody gave him Dennis Katungye's number, the coach we partnered with over there."
Katungye told Richter there was a need for basketball work to be done through camps if he knew of any coaches that wanted to be involved. Richter did one better and went after players. Girls from the Colorado Springs School and a couple of other schools in the area jumped at the chance to provide online clinics to women's players in Uganda. His two daughters Paige and Cameron were among those to join and then other students quickly got involved.
"I was excited to jump at the chance," CSS junior Mia Chavez said. "We have a chance to have such a big impact on such a small group. I knew it was going to be great to be a part of the process."
The workload to develop the foundation increased in March and already the players have film and sent a collection of instructional videos to two schools that are participating in the program.
They're aiming to travel to Uganda next summer to run on-site camps.
"I thought it was a cool idea and a great cause to head to Africa and help young girls," CSS senior Sasha Malone said. "It's awesome to have young girls teach younger students."
The foundation is going well above and beyond teaching skills. It is working to fundraise in order to get participating schools outfitted with new equipment and uniforms as well as building some facilities.
There has already been $11,000 raised which has allowed excavation to begin on a basketball court for the Immaculate Heart Girls School.
When the court is completed, basketball will become an official sport at the school and the efforts here in Colorado will have had a heavy hand in that. As much as the game has helped Chavez, Malone, and other standout players such as recent Kodiak graduate Kate Griffin and her sister Anna (Coronado '20) as well as St. Mary's standout Josephine Howery, the Class 3A girls player of the year, they're all appreciative that they can use the game they love to enrich others' lives.
"Basketball, like any sport, isn't just a game where you get to play and have fun," Chavez said. "You can help someone build character and I think there are so many different ways that you can use basketball to improve different parts of your life."
These girls have learned that lesson first-hand while competing for their high school teams and they have no interest in slowing down when it comes to helping others in less fortunate situations feel the same benefits.
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