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Atlanta Dream puts on practice for Gainesville fans
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Atlanta Dream’s Jasmine Thomas drives around a scrimmage opponent Tuesday at Gainesville Middle School. - photo by NAT GURLEY

Adrienne Battle and her 13-year old daughter, Mikeisha, were two of the earliest to arrive at the Gainesville Middle gym on Tuesday afternoon.

Seated midcourt and about four rows up the bleachers, both were eagerly anticipating the Atlanta Dream practice that drew an audience consisting mainly of preteen girls to see their athletic role models.

Mother and daughter planned this outing well in advance. Mikeisha, a rising eighth grader at Gainesville Middle, had many on her friends of the AAU Gainesville Wildcats summer club all sitting bunched together.

Mom got out of work early enough to make sure they would be in the gym in plenty of time to catch all the drills the Dream conducts during a 90-minute practice.

“I love that this is local,” said Adrienne, who used to attend frequent Dream games with her daughter when they lived in Decatur. “I hope they bring more professional things to Gainesville in the future.”

The Dream did all the normal activities they would do during practice, including film study before it started. For the majority of practice, Atlanta is simulating plays against a group of men, some staffers, they typically practice against.

The fan favorite was Dream forward-guard Angel McCoughtry, who is averaging 20 points and six boards a game, but some of the other young girls weren’t concerned with names; they just wanted to see the pros in person.

For Mikeisha, watching the pros of the WNBA play is a little more special. Like many of the other young girls in attendance, she wants a professional basketball career after high school and college.

Maybe she’s a little bit ahead of the curve already, after playing on the eighth grade Red Elephants last season, as just a seventh grade student.

“I think one day I can do this,” Mikeisha said, waiting eagerly for the players to run out on the court.

If she had a chance to ask, Mikeisha had one question she’d like ask the players more than any other.

“I’d ask what music they listen to to warm-up before the game,” she said.

Jalen Davis was one of the more excited girls to see the Dream. Davis, a rising junior at Habersham Central High, was sitting on the front row with members of the North Georgia Elite.

“I wanted to come out her to see all the players on the next level,” Davis said. “I’m very happy to be here.”

Ruth Riley, a center for Atlanta, was pleased to be able to put on a demonstration for girls that look up to them.
“This is a great opportunity for us,” Riley said. “We were all in this position at one point, so to be able to interact with the fans and allow them to see what we do on a daily basis is great.

“I’m sure their goals too are to play in college and hopefully the WNBA. Hopefully, this is a visible and tangible aspect of goals that they have.”

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