SEATTLE – If you had to make one free throw in front of your idol, could you do it?
That's exactly what happened to two 8th grade girls Monday night at their AAU practice when the Seattle Storm's Alysha Clark was on hand for a big reveal.
The team of girls watched as the Storm forward searched the crowd for two specific players, Allie and Olivia.
The pair submitted their own plans earlier this fall to the initiative Grow the Game put on by Nike, the WNBA and NBA to encourage girls to stay in the game.
Their plans were part of a nationwide contest and little did they know was that this surprise visit meant so much more.
“You haven't won yet, but I heard that if you make two free throws, then you're going to be put into this pool as semifinalists and be able to be the winners of it,” Clark told the girls. “Can you make two free throws?"
The answer was yes, and then the truth came out.
"You guys are actually not semi-finalists, you guys won," Clark said, surprising the girls.
Allie and Olivia came up with the idea of a “Heroes in Training” squad where middle school and high school girls mentor younger athletes in their community.
"I read over your application and what you guys want to implement is absolutely amazing,” Clark told the two. “I’m inspired by you because when I was in 8th grade I wasn't even thinking the way you are thinking, and to want to be mentors and help younger girls and grow the game of basketball I think is so awesome, and I’m inspired by you."
The Grow the Game program challenged young athletes after a recent study found that by the age of 14, girls are dropping out of sports twice as often as boys.
In addition to announcing Allie and Olivia as winners, Alysha passed out swag and words of wisdom.
“See, I want to help teach them something, and I helped them with game situations now they can knock free throws down under pressure,” Clark said.
As winners of the Grow the Game contest, both Allie and Olivia will get to head down to the Nike World headquarters in Beaverton to work with Nike, the WNBA and NBA to turn their idea into an actual game plan.