Rising Stars Founder Paul Savramis was expecting great things when he added former USA Olympic Gold medal winner coach Jill Cook to the staff of the program's senior girls’ teams.
Jill's resume included coaching at NYC powerhouse Christ The King as the winningest coach in girls' basketball. Jill also trained and coached a number of women's basketball greats, including Sue Bird. According to Paul Savramis, "Jill Cook has the same respect and stature in women's basketball as any one of the top names on the men's side."
“I never thought we would ever add anyone like Bethany LeSueur to our staff,” Paul Savramis continued, “but since Beth came over, she has surrounded herself with other great people and coaches.” Still, the addition of Cook amazed Paul Savramis and that has solidified Bethany's coaches as an unbeatable force.
Paul Savramis points to his Rising Stars girls teams' recent achievements in July. Rising Stars 17's Elite team, led by Jill Cook and assisted by Suzanne Kenney and Emma O'Connor, performed phenomenally. The team dominated every event throughout the most important times of the open evaluation period. Paul Savramis explains that the open evaluation period is where multiple college coaches attend each game, assess the talent, and determine to whom they may offer scholarships. “This is what every competitive player in the Rising Stars family works toward and looks forward to,” says Paul Savramis.
In early July, the girls added to an already strong spring showing when they flew to Chicago, IL, to participate in the Champions League Finals. Paul Savramis proudly points out that this is an invitation-only, elite-level tournament – an event where only the finest teams hold court.
Rising Stars Girls had wins over other top-rated teams from Florida, California, Missouri, New York City, and New Jersey. This led them to the semi-finals of one of the most prestigious events on the Summer Circuit with a 5-2 record and the highest finish of any other team from the entire Northeast!!
Paul Savramis added that the team traveled to the Select Events Summer Championships in Spooky Nook, PA, at the end of the month for the final college recruiting event of the summer. Competing in the top division, they were crowned CHAMPIONS with a 6-0 record. “We aspire to offer the best training and instruction to all the boys and girls that come to Rising Stars,” said Paul Savramis of this amazing feat.
"When all of that is topped off with being named among the country's top teams, you have achieved everything any program can hope for."
Paul Savramis concluded that this year's Rising Stars 17U team had one of the best AAU seasons ever recorded for the program, boys or girls. The team consisted of players Syniya Barton, Alex Carbonaro, Gabriela D'Ambrosio, Makayla Daube, Leela Guobadia, Caitlin Kenney, Elizabeth Kenney, Emily Markovina, Kasi Samuda and Daniella Velez. Their season started in April in Hampton, VA, at the first recruiting event of the season: the Boo Williams Invitational, where they were invited to join the newly formed Nike Champions League comprising 36 of the top teams around the country. Paul Savramis pointed out that Rising Stars was the only program in Long Island to become a member.
“This team was the epitome of everything we stand for,” concluded Paul Savramis. “Through hard work, commitment to each other, and a great effort by our coaching staff, these girls are being recruited by places like LaSalle University, Stonehill College, Siena College, Lafayette University, NYU, Oneonta, Drew University, University of Chicago, Rhode Island College, Mercy College, Adelphi University, Pace University, University of New Hampshire, Trinity College, and many many others.”
"All of us here at Rising Stars could not be any prouder of this group, and as a program, we could not be more thankful for their representation of our ideals."