EASTON — She’s coached at the collegiate level, and one day hopes to get into the professional ranks.

But for now, former Easton High girls’ basketball great Kelley Gibson is focusing her hoops know-how on establishing the SURE Basketball Academy for elementary and middle-school players.

“I named it SURE, playing off of words here, obviously representing the Eastern Shore,” Gibson said. “But from my time as a coach, and just being able to recruit from different parts of the country and world, the Eastern Shore, especially when you talk about Maryland, is still that area where people kind of look at you like, ‘Where is that again?’ So part of the reason why I want to do it is we have talent here. It’s just a matter of our kids being confident and being sure about who they are.”

Gibson is set to put her plan in motion this Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Chesapeake Christian School at 9 a.m., when she welcomes her first batch of players to get an idea of what she has to work with. The plan is to work on skills, drills and fun games at the outset, and put teams together for a possible round-robin tournament in hopes of starting a fall league. Gibson said the league is slated to play on Saturdays into December.

“We will offer individual and group instruction,” Gibson said. “Then in spring and summer, we’re looking to do a travel team.”

Gibson was a four-time All-Mid-Shore Player of the Year while at Easton High, leading the Warriors to back-to-back state championships in 1993 and ‘94. She went on to play at the University of Maryland and in the WNBA, before getting into the coaching ranks with stops at American, Maine, UMBC, Southern California, Syracuse and Rutgers.

But Gibson doesn’t want her new project emphasizing only basketball.

“Looking to do some work with Character Counts,” Gibson said. “Developing character and character education is huge, and so I’m adding that component. Trying to work with Character Counts, implementing some of their activities with their six pillars of character.”

Gibson hopes that combination can help generate more attention to the area for potential future recruits.

“It’s also about that exposure piece and being able to kind of have that national recognition,” Gibson said. “And that’s where that travel team will come into play.

“The name is SURE, because when you look at the definition of sure, it’s confidence in one’s self in who you are,” Gibson added. “And I want our kids to be confident in who they are, being from the Eastern Shore.”

Players interested in the academy can register at kelleygibson@surebasketballacademy.org

Follow me on Twitter @Bill_Haufe. Email me at bhaufe@stardem.com

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