ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Ball handling, strength and speed are the three things 13-year-old Katie Ambrose says she’ll need to work on, before she plays against girls three years her elder at the 2017 United World Games in Austria.
Up until a few weeks ago, when she received an invite to join Student Athlete World’s USA Basketball Team, the biggest thing she was stressing about was keeping straight-A’s in 7th grade. Now, she’s thinking about the pressure that comes with wearing the red, white and blue next month.
“I haven’t really thought about it yet,” Ambrose says. “But now that I think about it, that’s a lot of pressure. I know that I’m going to try my best.”
We met Ambrose during one of her regular training sessions with Pure Sweat Basketball, at Maplewood Richmond Heights High School. Ambrose says she plays basketball for at least three hours a day, seven days a week. She’s travels around the country with her club team, and on June 20 will leave the country for the first time in her life.
The United World Games is a four-day, youth-Olympic like event. It will feature 8,000 athletes from 30 countries competing in 12 different sports. Ambrose will be part of the U16 girls basketball team, which won a silver medal in last year’s competition. Vice president of Student Athlete World, Richie Schueler says this year’s team is an entirely new roster.
Schueler was a part of the selection process for the SaWTeamUSA for boys and girls basketball. He says Ambrose is one of 150 US youth athletes invited to the games, out of 8,000 applicants. It was a combination of her highlight videos, conversation with Ambrose’s coaches and parents, and an interview with Ambrose, that earned her a spot on the team.
Corey Frazier, Ambrose’s coach at Pure Sweat, says this tournament could give Ambrose a big advantage as she progress into high school and college, because she’ll be exposed to the European brand of basketball.
“To play for your country at any level that’s a great honor in itself,” Frazier says. “No matter what USA part of it is and who selected teams, when you get an opportunity like that, that’s big.”
Frazier was a three-year member of the Saint Louis University men’s basketball team, from 1995 to 1998. He has coached the Maplewood varsity boys basketball team for almost two decades, winning back-to-back state championships in 2008-09.
He says Ambrose’s character had propelled her basketball talents, just as much as her natural talent.
“She puts in the time and effort,” Frazier says. “So anybody who’s not sure about what you want you wnat to do as an athlete, definitely develop a good work ethic. And there it is right there, she speaks for it.”
Ambrose is still a year and a half away from high school basketball, and currently goes to middle school in the Francis Howell School District. And she has already set a goal for herself, to first make her high school varsity team as a freshman, then eventually go to college at the biggest school she can to play basketball.