Every tale of adventure is the expression of a hero’s battle against overwhelming odds. A drama of the oppositional forces to the achievement of a worthy goal. Sometimes it’s dragons, sometimes it’s an evil empire, but it’s always...difficult.
That is every tale, except this one....In this story, the glass ceiling is shattered (or simply becomes obsolete) and the oppressor becomes an ally. Also, the heroes, (except for one) are all heroines! Women who can face life as realists with the courage of dreamers. Think of this, if you’re not intimidated by the seemingly insurmountable forces around you, whatever they are – you operate in the absence of fear. FEAR is the most disabling of all emotions, and frequently negates all creative thinking.
For many years the various advantages of participating in competitive sports was limited to the worlds of men. So, the experience of overcoming the obstacles that invariably exist in the repetitive situations presented in all team sports, was not a normal part of a womans experience. Which challenges require just hard work? When does the team need a more informed strategy to win? Most importantly, girls learn when to rely on insight, which may mean appreciating and optimizing the skills of another player.
Enter PEAK The Performance Sports and Development Foundation. A honorable source of dependable leadership, PEAK is a 501(c)(3) which began in 2005 as an elite basketball summer camp. It has grown to be so much more than that. Girls from public and private schools participate in a competitive basketball leagues, but also in aggressive academic support, leadership training, and highly varied community service projects.
The idea is to address the total child - teaching them to grow their own capabilities and their judgement. This lowers the power of “peer pressure” among adolescents and the need to take foolish risks to “fit in.” Self-esteem is the antidote to acting out. When you respect yourself, it’s easy to exhibit respect for others.
NOW FOR THE STATS:
PEAK has served 1,100 girls from 75 public and private schools in the 13 years the program has existed. Of 134 participants from 2011 to 2018, 108 girls have signed to participate as NCAA ATHLETES in more than 50 different colleges and universities! That is a staggering record of success! 100% of these young women have enrolled in college – with a total of 7 million dollars awarded in scholarships, both academic and athletic. So far, participants have garnered 50 undergraduate degrees, 6 master degrees, and 4 doctorates. One alumni, Kaitlyn Dinkins has completed her MD at Emory after finishing her undergraduate studies at Harvard as the well-loved captain of the women’s basketball team.
So who is the hero? Bruce Price, Executive Director and tireless visionary. The designer of an unquestionably strong emotional fitness program, as well as a physically challenging one. Bruce has raised two daughters who have become outstanding women. He learned a lot about advocacy in the process. “Acquiring a TRUE understanding of herself through positive experience, can allow a young woman to envision a reality fueled by imagination, but driven by confidence - confidence tested and 100% dependable. That is STRENGTH!” Arriving into adulthood without the need for extraneous approval is freedom… It is okay to enjoy pleasing others or being admired for being pretty; but not to view that as a prerequisite to success. Imagine what might be possible at 16 if you have seen yourself overcome every barrier you ever encountered. Belief in yourself guarantees that you CAN accomplish anything when you have learned how to GROW and to GIVE. The world would be a different place if we all had the strength to foster in ourselves the characteristics we admire in others.
In their own words, read what PEAK means to PEAK Alum and College Graduates, Cassidy Williams and Sydney Umeri.
"When I first began my journey with basketball, it was anything but pleasant. I was what many would call a raw talent, which is often short for, "You have potential, kid, you just have to develop it." Eager to learn, I walked into my first Peak Performance tryout and met Coach Bruce Price who not only played a significant role in my development as a player on the court but in my maturation off the court as well. That narrative doesn't stop with me. Over the years, Coach Bruce and Peak Performance have impacted the lives of numerous young women, teaching us discipline, hard work, goal setting, and how to become better basketball players and women.
PEAK has sent more high school girls to college by developing their skills and talent to play at the next level than most girls basketball organizations I know. The opportunity to play at the next level is more than the chance to further develop our skills as athletes; it is the opportunity to set our futures up for success by attending colleges across the country under scholarship. Knowing what I know now as a college graduate with both bachelors and masters degrees, the value of a paid for college education continues to show its worth far beyond the three to five years we spend at any institution. It sets us up to be able to build our futures outside of the constructs of debt, and in this day and age, that's priceless.
Though my time in women's college basketball, did not go as I planned, it taught me and further developed the skills Peak began instilling in me in 6th grade: discipline, hard work, perseverance, etc. I'm very thankful to Peak and Coach Bruce Price for helping me become the young woman I am today, for giving me vision towards what I could become and what I could do through my sport, and for continuing to do so with this younger generation of girls striving for the same opportunities."
University of Virginia, Class of 2016
University of Kansas, Class of 2017
"I had no idea of the magnitude of what Peak Performance means to me until now.
At the beginning, as a young player…. I saw PEAK as the perfect avenue to provide me the opportunity to travel around the country, compete against top tier competition, all in the hopes of exposing my game to a coach who was looking for someone like me. PEAK was the program for me because it was simply just “all about the right things”. I trusted all of the coaches and genuinely loved each of my teammates, it truly felt like everyone had my best interest at heart.
All the things I just said above is wonderful and true, but as I have grown up and have gained a newer perspective on my life… I am able to see a more mature, clearer picture of what Peak Performance basketball did for me in my life.
PEAK gave me these BLANK things:
Kyrie Chandler - When we met at Peak, she was just my PG and I was her shooting guard. Fast forward 5 years, during college, Kyrie’ was the person I texted/FaceTimed/called when I was at my breaking point with college basketball. We willed each other through so many tough practices, unfair coaches, and circumstances that were out of our control. Not only is she one of my closest friends to date, but she will also be one of my VIP invitees to my wedding next April.
Kiesha Brown - She was a Peak coach that turned into a mentor and best friend. I can’t even tell you how many hours we’ve spent in the gym together…me crying out of frustration over too many missed jump shots, blasting music and dancing to keep me light, and really just getting to me refall in love with the game over and over again.
PEAK created the foundation for me to not only become a fundamentally sound basketball player, but more importantly it prepared me to be resilient. College basketball almost broke me multiple times, but that resiliency that I had developed over my years as a Peak player helped me to persevere and never give up.
PEAK also taught me to pursue excellence in all areas of life, not just basketball. I really took that to heart when I got into the college classroom. Peak did not tell me to email my professors weeks in advance of a road trip, or to have assignments completed prior to long stints of time being gone…. I just did that on my own because it is INGRAINED in me to be professional and excellent in everything I do.
I listed four things, but it is impossible to pinpoint all of ways that PEAK has influenced and impacted my life. The list is never-ending.
Bottom line is, I am SO GRATEFUL to God for placing me and my family in the same path as Peak Performance Basketball and Coach Bruce Price. I am even more grateful for the opportunity to play ball and build relationships with the people that mean so much to me, even when the ball stopped bouncing. I have no doubts that I will be using the skills Peak taught me in every facet of my life moving forward.
I am a PEAK girl FOR LIFE!!!"
University of Samford, Class of 2019
"Cassidy Williams is a 2019 Magna Cum Laude graduate from Samford University. She was on the Dean’s List eight semesters out of eight. She was the two time Captain of the Women’s Basketball Team. Cassidy was awarded the Dr. Jim Angel Award for being the most outstanding and best overall student in the School of Health Professions. The Dr. Angel Award is presented to the student who is most influential, demonstrates professionalism and excellence, and lives out the “idea of calling”. Dr. Angel was in the U.S. Navy and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. At Samford, Dr. Angel was the missionary who developed all the majors to what they are at Samford today."
-She never missed a single practice in 4 seasons and 2 summers, despite being sick or hurt on multiple occasions.
-She was the ONLY PLAYER in the history of the women’s program to report to school the summer before her freshman year….in order to learn the system, offense, etc. And the $ to attend that summer was not covered under her scholarship.
-She set the school record for number of 3 pointers made in one game = 8
-She led the conference in 3 point shooting percentage for the year = 43%
And that was 17th best in the country.
-She was nominated to speak at commencement. The only Sports Administration major to ever be nominated in the history of the school.
-She graduated magna cum laude and on time in four years. She had two UNPAID internships that she got entirely on her own.
-She was on the Dean’s List every single semester and was on the Southern Conference All Academic Honor Roll all four years. Last year, and likely again this year (not issued until August), she was awarded the SoCon Commissioner’s Medal for academic performance.
-At the Sampsbys (Samford’s version of the ESPY’s, an all sport award ceremony for only the athletes) she was nominated for “Breakthrough Performer of the Year” which designates the athlete who made the largest improvement in their performance vs. prior years. She was also nominated for Miss Bulldog, which goes to the female student athlete who has demonstrated excellence in the sports arena, classroom, and community/public service. She did not win either category, but she was the only women’s basketball player to be nominated in more than one category.