OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — While coaching women's basketball at Creighton University, Chevelle Saunsoci realized the sport wasn't accessible. She then decided to leave Creighton and make a difference in basketball but through youth sports.
"We have people in our community who are doing great things but they’re not accessible so we want to bridge the gap of access and create something that is more accessible to the kids who need it the most," Saunsoci said.
While creating DVLP, she was intentional about creating a program for kids specifically in north Omaha.
"I wanted to bring our experience to the more under-resourced community to allow for that access to be more realistic. We welcome all kids, we have kids from Elkhorn, Westside, all parts of the community and we welcome them here. But we want to make it the easiest to access to the kids who maybe don’t have the same things, to get out to 204th Street or wherever they might be interested in training," Saunsoci said. "I want to provide an elite training experience in north Omaha because I think north Omaha has a tremendous amount of talent."
With Saunsoci's expertise, as well as other coaches on the DVLP staff who have played and coached professionally and at the Division I level, they are able to guide players to the next step. The knowledge and experience Saunsoci and the DVLP team have, the knowledge that many other programs don't, is what attracts players like Stevie Harley and her family.
"As we think about our future going to the next level, Coach Chevy is the type of person you need to have on your team. I really don’t have connections to coaches. I’ve never played basketball to go to get a scholarship or go to a D1 school or thinking about playing overseas, as a parent what does that look like to send my child to a different country," said Bianca Harley, parent of DVLP player Stevie Harley.
Stevie started playing basketball at the age of four and had never had a woman coach before Saunsoci. Bianca Harley said her daughter having woman coaches to look up to has manifested as being more confident both on and off the court.
"For me, the biggest thing was seeing herself reflected in that knowing that you have this goal of playing professionally or coaching professionally and there are women who have gone through the path you want to go through. So that was a big connector for me in why I wanted Stevie to be a part of this program and then once she was involved and engaged and going to workouts seeing the impact of that on the court when she was in season that was incredible," Harley said. "It makes it real. It’s not this imaginary, arbitrary goal but I've seen someone do what I want to do now that’s real that's a reality for me."
Stevie has a goal of coaching in the WNBA and her mom says training with DVLP makes that dream more of a tangible reality.