Camp tales of players' summer vacation

Working Vanderbilt's summer basketball camps is a rite of passage for returning basketball players. All but the incoming freshmen participated in the week of training for players kindergarten through high school age. A little coaching, a little whistle blowing, slinging pizza and catching up with teammates after a month-long break was time well spent.

Armed with a detailed workout package from Strength & Conditioning Coach Tasha Weddle, Vandy's veterans were an active bunch following the end of spring term. With the start of the Team Challenge Camp on June 11, all roads led to Nashville from places near and far.

Each ‘Dore had travel experiences to share and each senior feasted on the sights and sounds of international locales. The publicized journey of Jence Rhoads and Angela Puleo to Greece for a religion course on ancient beliefs burned lifelong memories as well as a little skin in the Mediterranean hot spot. Their story is chronicled in three journals posted by Angela, a former Maryville Daily Times columnist, at

The rising junior guard will officially play on Memorial Gym hardwoods for the first time this fall after transferring from Georgia. Angela, with a voice made hoarse from yelling ("instructing," she insists) at her camp charges, will relish the time spent with her teammate and other Vandy students. "I slept for two days straight when I got back," the Tennessean said before managing another full sentence. "Greece is a great memory, but it's time to get back in the swing of things for basketball and get ready for the season."

Jence's travels are not over. Beach time abroad did not include family, so when camp duties are done, she heads to northern Virginia to reprise a role she's played since she was 12: Jence of Chincoteague. The Rhoads family annually visits the island beach famous for wild pony swims and the children's book "Misty of Chincoteague." The point guard says, "I love it. It's so secluded and so relaxing."

Her camp duties included coaching a team of middle-schoolers, the "Seattle Storm." "It's a lot of work. Fun, but tiring," she adds. The camp was a perfect prerequisite for additional R&R.

Jence, Angela and Lauren take a break from camp duties.

Fellow rising senior Hannah Tuomi spent a week in Mexico, but that's not where she acquired the team's deepest tan. The Colorado native spent hours outside daily, hiking and biking, swimming and running – and the prescribed workouts. "Colorado has 300 days of sunshine. It's the best state in the whole world."

As Hannah nibbled on pizza, she was the picture of health – there was no thought of rehashing the hours of rehab she undertook this time last year to heal from a late-season fracture. With a strong junior performance against SEC teams and in the post season, that ship has sailed.

Elan Brown, Jordan Coleman and Hannah Tuomi take care of pizza orders.

Rebecca Silinski, who also battled fatigue from health issues last season but developed steadily in conference play, still wears the lime bracelet for fighting Lyme disease.

"I put it on when my sister got sick and I won't take it off until she surprises me and walks into a game," she said. Rebecca has asked her parents to keep mum about Kaitlyn's progress so she can enjoy the moment fully when her relatives show unexpectedly in the stands.

Rebecca visited with her family in Kansas City where Kaitlyn is hospitalized with the disease. For Rebecca's part, the battle is nearly done. "I'm doing well. I'm still on medicine. I have a follow up appointment in July and hopefully that will be it. I'm perfectly cleared to play, just some maintenance stuff."

On a much lighter note, the senior-to-be caught a plane to Paris with her dad and grandma to visit her aunt, a former international model, and cousins for 10 days. It was her first time in the City of Lights. "I did some sightseeing with my dad and then spent the rest of my time with my aunt and grandma. My aunt moved out there 30 years ago. On the last day of her photo shoot she went to get a taxi and dropped her bag and a Frenchman came up and picked her bag up. He asked if she wanted to share a taxi and that was it." Voila, lives were changed and made for a great European vacation for the 6-3 post, who herself has a model's height and beauty.

Recent Vandy grad Lauren Lueders, enjoying her first full summer free of responsibilities, said the beach, and more beach, are in her future. "I'm sending out resumes, but I've said all along that I wanted to enjoy this time off."

Look for more comments from Jordan Coleman and Stephanie Holzer, who are continuing rehabilitation, and Elan Brown, Tiffany Clarke and Gabby Smith in "Part 2 of Camp Talk." Top Stories