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All in the name of instilling confidence in girls.

Did you know Milwaukee is home to the state’s only professional women’s basketball team? If not, meet the Milwaukee Aces. The Aces, a recently-formed team, are the second professional women’s team in Milwaukee’s history following the short-lived Milwaukee Does, who played three seasons from 1978-1980. Bernell Hooker, the Ace’s principal owner, hopes to not only establish a longer legacy of women’s basketball in Milwaukee through the team, but also provide strong female role models for the city’s young women.

Hooker was inspired to start a professional women’s basketball team in Milwaukee due to her work as CEO of Images Of Us (IOU) Sports, a local nonprofit whose mission is to empower girls to reach their full potential through sports. The Aces are now a second-year franchise under the the Global Women’s Basketball Association (GWBA).

This weekend, the Aces are teaming up with Milwaukee Public Schools Recreation and IOU Sports to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the WNBA on Saturday, June 11. The celebration will be held in conjunction with the “Let Girls Play” Summer Jamboree, where girls and their families can learn about summer programs, after-school activities, and the importance of staying active.

“This is our first day of girl empowerment,” says Hooker, “girls and their families can meet and see women from the community come out to show how important physical fitness and sports can be a part of their life.”

“They, too, can follow their dreams,” she says.

The “Let Girls Play” Summer Jamboree is a free event and runs from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. WNBA alumnae, including some WNBA Hall of Famers, will be holding a free basketball clinic for girls who attend. At 4 p.m., the Aces play their season opener game against Community All Stars and WNBA Legends at Bradley Tech High School (700 S. 4th Street). Tickets for the game will run you $10.

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