Perfecting their ball handling techniques are the keys to success for the Culver Mini Dribblers.
Dribblers are a group of 14 middle school girls in grades six through eight, who show their dribbling talents in routines set to music.
This year's Mini Dribblers are: sixth-graders Gabrielle Alley, Jaymie Brown and Erika Lopez; seventh-graders Kristeana Tichenor, Nikki Shewell, Cassie Robinett, Ashley Wilda; and eighth graders Jordan Hanslovan, Blaire Anglen, LaShawna Jones, Mariah Daugherty, Ginny McCormick, Kelsie Stafford and Sam Donnelly.
As the basketballs keep in rhythm with the songs from their routines, they performed as halftime entertainers for all Culver Bulldog High School games in January and February.
They also performed at halftime at Mountain View High School on two occasions and once at Madras High School.
The highlight of their year will be performing at a pregame show at the Portland Trailblazer game on Friday, March 21.
Karen Young, their coach, started this program three years ago, she said, as a "fun and noncompetitive way to increase interest in basketball among middle school girls."
She said when she began teaching in Culver in 2004 and began coaching basketball, many of the girls at the middle school level struggled with ball handling.
Young noted, "After much contemplation, I came up with the idea of a noncompetive ball handling group."
A lot of time was spent on skills simply to get the ball up and down the court. Some of the girls playing basketball were also becoming frustrated. Dribblers enables them to learn and improve their skills in basketball.
Erika Lopez, sixth grader, emphasized, "I have a wonderful coach Mrs. Young. She does a great job teaching us all the (ball) skills. I entered Mini Dribblers because I thought it would be really fun!"
The group meets for a half hour every day as a fitness elective, and one hour after school one to two times a week. The group is formed in October and runs through spring break.
Ginny McCormick, eighth grader, has been a part of Mini Dribblers since the beginning. "I like our newest routine. I am also excited to go to the Trail Blazer game," she said.
"I've learned so much ... mostly ball handling. We are going to the Trail Blazers (game) which is the most exciting thing ever. I can't wait," said eighth-grader Sam Donnelly.