By Travis Mounts, TSnews
This summer, young people in Conway Springs and Haysville were able to improve their basketball skills under the tutelage of Jackie Stiles – Kansas basketball legend, college standout and former pro player.
For Stiles, a Kansas native from Claflin, the camps bring her back to her days as a kid learning to play basketball.
“Camps were a huge part of my development, and I remember what kind of an impact they had on me,” she told TSnews.
Stiles held a number of camps this summer in Kansas, and has a few more planned before the end of the year. She recently left coaching and moved to Springfield, Mo., where she put together one of the best-ever college careers playing for the Southwest Missouri State Bears (now Missouri State).
The camps provided a chance to stay with her family in Kansas, and she got help running the camps from her parents and her nephew.
Stiles is working to open a fitness studio this year in Springfield. It was a plan that was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that delay also created the opportunity for her to put together her own camps.
“Honestly, it’s been a blessing,” she said of the delay. “The camps are going to be a big part of what I do.”
This is not the first time Stiles has conducted basketball camps. She did some early in her WNBA career and then again right after her retirement.
Stiles wants the camps to be part of a new life that is a little more centered. She was an assistant coach at the University of Oklahoma but decided to look at new opportunities after the head coach retired.
“I sold three homes in 2-1/2 years. I’m too old to keep moving,” said Stiles, who is 43. “I want to be in one place and know I’m going to be here.”
Stiles said the camps are a way to give back to Kansas, especially in small communities like the one she grew up in.
“I just felt so alive this summer. It was so rewarding to me to hear comments on how it’s impacted or inspired them,” she said.
She said the turnout has been strong. The camps are just one day in length, which seems to fit into families’ busy schedules better. She said it is hard for people to commit to two-day or three-day camps.
Stiles also enjoyed working with her family, especially her father, Pat, who was her high school coach.
“It was great to have Dad along. My dad has had such an impact on my career,” she said.
Stiles, who was born in Kansas City, Kan., was reared in Claflin. By the time she graduated, she was the top basketball scorer in Kansas history, girl or boy. Her junior year, she set the state record with 71 points in a single game.
She was a standout in other sports, too, earning 14 gold medals at State track during her career. In one day, she won the 400, 800, 1600 and 3200 meters. She also placed in the top three at State cross country all four seasons, and placed second at State tennis in three seasons.
In college, Stiles set the NCAA Division I career scoring record with 3,393 points, and led the Bears to a Final Four appearance. She is the only woman to score more than 1,000 points in a season, was named the top female basketball player in the country, and was a three-time Missouri Valley Conference player of the year.
After turning pro, Stiles was drafted fourth by the Portland Fire of the WNBA and was named rookie of the year. She also played for the Los Angeles Sparks and played in the Australian professional league, but injuries cut short her professional career.
She coached at Loyola Marymount, Missouri State and OU. She is in multiple halls of fame, and in 2016 was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.
Stiles has held 21 camps this summer in Kansas, including the ones in Haysville and Conway Springs. She has four more scheduled through November.
Jackie Stiles Basketball Camps
For more information, visit www.jackiestiles.com.