The New York Liberty is Coming to Town and an interesting collaboration is afoot

By mark-slade March 9, 2011

The New York Liberty is Coming to Town

Coda Kitchen & Bar
177 Maplewood Ave, Maplewood, NJ
Sort of. They came to coda in Maplewood to promote their move to Newark’s Prudential Center.

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Basketball is more than just a sport. The skills learned on the court reach into everyday life.
Women’s basketball goes even farther than that. Especially if Kym Hampton has her way. Hampton plays for the WNBA’s New York Liberty and has a story to tell.
“The desire to aspire,” says Hampton, “it’s really important to see what professional level sports looks like, especially for girls so they know what they can aspire to.” And Hampton knows what she’s talking about.
Hampton didn’t start playing basketball until freshman year in high school. Shy and six feet tall, she did everything she could not to stand out.
But the girls basketball coach wore her down until she relented and agreed to join the team. Over the summer between her freshman and sophomore year, she got a job as a life guard and during her downtime, she played basketball against the boys.
All summer long
By the time she came back in September of her sophomore year, she had her game on. But playing a good game wasn’t the only thing that had inspired her. Hampton credits Wilma Rudolph as part of her inspiration especially because of her ability to overcome various physical challenges and as a civil rights and women’s rights pioneer.
“When young girls play sports, they walk around differently.” Hampton straightens her posture to emphasize the point. “There are so many skills that sports teach beyond playing the game. It’s good for a girl’s self esteem. It’s powerful.”
Hampton was at coda in Maplewood to promote the New York Liberty’s move to the Prudential Center in Newark through the 2013 season while Madison Square Garden goes through a major renovation over the next three summers. The event was to introduce the Liberty and professional women’s basketball to the local community.
But there was more.
Also at the event were teachers from South Orange Middle School. Hampton will be part of an interesting collaboration between the Liberty and SOMS. In May, the eighth grade will go to a special Liberty game at the Prudential Center. The next day, Hampton will come to SOMS and speak to all the grades about self esteem, school climate issues and to promote the district’s anti-bullying message.
“She’s our ‘hook’,” says SOMS teacher Jackie Clark. “After they ‘ooh and aah’ over her, her message will go farther.” The school partnership came together because of Anita Levy, New York Liberty’s account executive at Madison Square Garden. Levy is an alumnae of SOMS who kept in touch with her teachers back at middle school and who helped facilitate the collaboration.
In addition to the teachers, local fans were invited to the event, and not surprisingly, a large number of them had daughters. Like Chuck Keegan, who coaches Columbia High School girls track and Our Lady of Sorrow’s third and fourth grade basketball teams. Keegan likes the Liberty for two reason. First it’s a fun family event and second — and more importantly — “it promotes a positive female role model and I want to encourage that.”
The opening game will be on Saturday, June 11 at 7 p.m. at the Prudential Center in Newark against Indiana. For more information about the New York Liberty, visit their website.