Raymond has Robins flying high

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Stephanie Raymond’s dream was to play in the WNBA.

That dream came to life when Raymond spent the 2007 season with the Chicago Sky.

Now, as a member of the Rock County Robins, Raymond is the second-leading scorer for the first-year women’s semi-professional team that is thriving in the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League.

The Robins are 5-0 heading into Saturday’s pivotal WBCBL game against the Chicago Lady Steam. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Flood Arena on the Beloit College campus with the winner advancing to the WBCBL championship in Miami on Aug. 21 and 22.

Rock County is averaging more than 90 points a game and is beating opponents by nearly 30 points a game.

After playing against the world’s best players in the WNBA, the 5-foot-5 Raymond wasn’t sure what to expect in the WBCBL.

“The team I’m on is probably better than what I expected, as far as talent and everybody’s skill level,” Raymond said. “But the league as a whole doesn’t seem to be as good as I hoped it would be.

“I’m having a lot of fun, though. I’ve got great teammates and am getting the opportunity to keep playing the sport I love.”

Raymond, a Rockford, Ill., native, was a second-round draft pick by the Sky in 2007. A Northern Illinois University graduate, Raymond played alongside former Janesville Parker star Becky Smith for two years with the Huskies.

In 20 games with the Sky, Raymond averaged 3.1 points a game as a back-up point guard.

Although Raymond wasn’t re-signed after her rookie season, the experience was one she’ll never forget.

“The atmosphere was overwhelming at times,” Raymond said. “It was something I had been dreaming about doing since the sixth or seventh grade.

Raymond said the highlight of her rookie season was playing at the AT&T Center in San Antonio—home of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs and the WNBA’s San Antonio Silver Stars.

“That’s where the NBA Finals were held, so to look up and see the lights and the atmosphere in that building, it made me feel like I belonged. It was unbelievable.”

Jeana Hoffman leads the balanced Robins’ attack with a 16-point average, while Raymond is right behind at 15.4. Two other Robins are averaging in double figures, including former UW-Whitewater and Beloit Memorial star Tiffany Morton.

“We play a fast-paced game with a lot of energy,” Raymond said of the Robins. “We like to push the ball which is why we’re averaging 90 points a game, but I think our defense is pretty good, too.”

Raymond found out about the Robins through a newspaper advertisement. She’s glad she decided to try out.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect, but at the first tryout, there were some really good players that I knew would be a lot of fun to play basketball with.

“Hopefully, we can keep playing well and win the championship.”

Raymond’s jersey to be raffled

One lucky fan will win Stephanie Raymond’s jersey at Saturday’s game at Flood Arena. Raffle tickets will be sold to help support operating costs for the Robins, with the winner taking home Raymond’s game jersey.

The Robins are also looking for donations to help offset travel expenses for two upcoming road games. Rock County will play at the Flint Flames in Flint, Mich., on Saturday, July 17, and at the St. Louis Surge on July 24. The team would like to travel by vans or SUV’s to the games rather than rent a bus.

Anyone interested in donating money or a form of transportation is asked to call Rock County Robins CEO Greg Bridges at 815-505-5387.

Last updated: 2:24 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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