Lady Prospector to Play in Down Under Classic in July
By Daniel Dullum
What started out as an opportunity to pursue a basketball dream, is winding up as mother-daughter bonding adventure in the Land Down Under.
Apache Junction High School sophomore Kylee Vanwormer received an invitation to play in the 2018 Down Under Hoops Classic, held in mid-July in Australia. She’ll be going, along with her mother, Robyn Pulliam.
“Me and my mom would like to go; she’s never done anything like that,” Vanwormer said. “I’ve never been outside of the state, really. I’ve been to two other states and I just think it would be an awesome opportunity to go to another country to play the sport that I love.”
Vanwormer and her mother will spend 10 days traveling, competing and sight-seeing in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast, with an option to visit the Great Barrier Reef.
“This is awesome,” Vanwormer said. “I’ll get to take pictures with koalas, visit the kangaroo fields … very cool!
“I talked to (former AJ girls basketball coach Victor) Rodriguez and he’s pretty excited about it. He said it’s only the beginning of my career, because I’m only a sophomore and I’m already getting invited to play outside the country.
“It’s only going to help my career too. It’s going to help me get looked at more.”
As a sophomore, Vanwormer averaged 7.8 points and 2.3 rebounds for the Lady Prospectors. She also shot 39 percent (48 of 122) from the field, including 31 percent (20 of 65) from 3-point range.
“I was super-excited when I found out I was selected,” Vanwormer said. “They said that they were looking for athletes to play in Australia, which is an awesome opportunity, and I’m glad they were able to pick me as one.”
Vanwormer said she’s also been working out with Rodriguez’s boys team in Phoenix. “I don’t want to get out of shape; he had good workouts during the season that kept us in shape. I don’t want to go to this not in shape and not be able to keep up.”
Down Under Sports is based out of North Logan, Utah, and offers competition in Australia for football, cross country, golf, track and field, basketball and volleyball. Vanwormer said there are “about 12 to 14 teams” with nine athletes per team that participate in girls basketball.
“We go there, and practice for a couple of days. Then we play in a two-day tournament, which is cool,” Vanwormer said. “It’s eight games, minimum. That doesn’t include championships and playoffs.
The experience includes playing with other girls she doesn’t know, and figuring out how to blend her talents with the others.
“That’s why they have a couple of practices, to get to know who we are playing with,” she said.
The cost to participate is $4,699 per person, and Vanwormer has until July 16 for fundraising after making the $300 deposit. So far, she has established a GoFundMe account (https://www.gofundme.com/5bv1c9s) and is exploring other fundraising options.
“It’s all over Facebook. My sister helped me make the page and she shared it. Now all kinds of friends and family in New Mexico and Yuma are seeing it now.
“Down Under Sports actually has their own fundraising programs too, like t-shirts and how to approach businesses to sponsor me,” Vanwormer said. “Also bake sales, car washes, all that kind of stuff.
“I’ll figure out some more details and look into some more fundraising ideas.
Vanwormer is also working part-time after school. “I’m saving up every penny from my paychecks up until I leave so I can go. I’ve been asking for extra hours, and I work every day as much as I can to make this happen.
“I don’t have much free time anymore, but it’s once in a lifetime. It’s costly, but to make it happen, it would be worth it.”
Photo Above: Kylee Vanwormer goes through the information provided by Down Under Sports for her trip to Australia in July. (Photos by Daniel Dullum, Bill Wooster)