GARDNER — Laticia Rolle grew up in Gardner and fueled her passion for basketball by taking to courts as often as possible.
The hard work paid off.
Rolle went on to play at Worcester Academy and earned a scholarship to play at Division 2 Eckerd College in Florida. Now, she’s aiming to give back to her hometown.
The 5-foot-6 former guard will host the Rolle All-Star Basketball Clinic at Gardner High School from Aug. 5-6, teaching players of all skill levels how to improve their game. And just to make sure everyone’s paying attention, Rolle’s bringing along some reinforcements.
The most notable of the help comes in the form of her boyfriend, who just happens to be a 7-foot-1 member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. That player? Shaquille O’Neal.
“It’s the first time we’ve attempted to do a clinic and Shaquille is really supportive in everything I do,” Rolle said. “I grew up and played in Gardner and wanted to give back.”
Rolle says she had talked to her father about the possibility of running a clinic after seeing that kids weren’t as active in basketball in the area throughout the year.
“When I was growing up, there was basketball going on 24-7,” said Rolle. “I said to my dad, ‘Let’s do a clinic.’ It’s a great chance to get kids from a small town and the surrounding areas to play more.”
The clinic will feature three sessions at Gardner High School, with each broken down by age group. There is a limit of 50 boys and 50 girls at each session, with a cost of $100 per participant.
The clinic will be run by college players from the region and will have focus on “drills, team development and fun.” A Saturday afternoon session will be dedicated to third- through sixth-graders, with seventh- to ninth-graders and sophomores to seniors going on Sunday.
For more information, or to register, visit rolleallstarsummerclinic.eventbrite.com.
All attendees will receive a Reebok bag and T-shirt, as well as team photos with O’Neal, the camp’s guest speaker.
“Shaquille loves kids. He’s great with children,” Rolle said. “If everything goes as we have planned, hopefully we’ll be able to continue doing this.”
Follow Nick Mallard on Twitter @n_mallard.