Sisters heading down under

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 1, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

When Ransheda and Monae Jennings hit the courts for the People to People Ambassadorship Sports (PPAS) Basketball Program this summer, the court length will be the same. The basket will still be 10 feet high. The ball will be round, rubber, and covered in dimples, just as the John F. Kennedy Middle School students are used to.

It’s the opposition and the audience that will be different. Not just because the girls will be in another country. They’ll be in a different hemisphere.

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The &uot;Jenningses,&uot; who have sharpened their skills in the Suffolk YMCA Youth Basketball League and on the Lakeland junior varsity team, will be part of a team representing the United States in the program’s International Sports Ambassador A.I.S. Hoopfest in New Zealand and Australia. PPAS offers participants the chance to grow as a leader and team player and develop skills in goal setting, planning, decision making and problem solving, on and off the court.

The youngsters will leave on July 4. It will be the first time either has left the country. &uot;I didn’t want to go at first, because I didn’t like the thought of getting on an airplane,&uot; said Monae, 15, a power forward at Lakeland &uot;All those crashes! But my grandmother told me that I should get out of the country rather than stay home all summer.&uot;

Ransheda, 13, plays point guard and shooting guard for Lakeland. &uot;I’m glad I won’t be the only one I know down there!&uot; she said. &uot;It’ll probably be just like I’m playing basketball back here in Suffolk, because the players will probably be just like me.&uot;

Her sister isn’t so sure. &uot;I’ll probably feel a little scared about competing, because people from Australia and New Zealand probably know more than we do. But we’ll still try to come in first for the United States.&uot;

With the trip still months away, doing so has proven a tough task already. The trip will cost $4,000 per person, which includes roundtrip airfare, hotel accommodations and health and emergency coverage for the two-week venture.

Want to help? Contact the family at 934-8904!