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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Special day for Tina Charles

With each passing week it seems as if the maturity of former UConn star Tina Charles reaches new heights.

Nobody has ever questioned Charles' talent. She was the national high school player of the year coming out of Christ the King and emerged into one of the best players ever to suit up for the Huskies.

Since Charles has turned pro, she has proven that she is more than just a talented basketball player but somebody with a philanthropic spirit. She was honored as the annual honoree at the Channel 3 Kids Camp annual Women Raising Awareness Philanthropically luncheon this afternoon in Farmington.

“Basketball is what I do and not I am,” Charles said as she accepted the award. “This is who I am, I love to give back.”

Charles’ charitable soul first started to get noticed when she funded a school in Africa through a partnership with Build-On and OmniPeace. She took the next step by forming a partnership with the Connect to Learn organization to hand out scholarships to underprivileged girls in Africa. Now one of her passions is distributing Automatic External Defibrillators to schools in Michigan after hearing about the death of Fenville (Mich.) High basketball player Wes Leonard shortly after he made the game-winning shot in a 2011 game. During her acceptance speech Charles revealed that she has started a foundation and she will purchase a defibrillator for each double-double she records this season.

“Out of all the accolades I have received, it is definitely one of the top ones,” Charles said. “This is what I am about. A lot of people don't know me personally, they just see me on the basketball court so to be honored for something I am dedicated to and I can say who I am, it means a lot.

“It is really is important because me being a believer in Christ, God gives you what you need so you can give others what they need. I have been put in a position where I can live comfortably and impact others in a positive light.”

Charles just returned to the U.S. after playing overseas. According to Connecticut Sun head coach Anne Donovan, both Charles and fellow former UConn star Renee Montgomery won’t be reporting when training camp opens on May 5 so they can recharge a bit after grueling offseason schedules. Their absence will be a brief one and will enable Donovan and her staff her evaluate other players before Charles and Montgomery report.

When Charles does come to camp a familiar face will be missing as Asjha Jones will take off the 2013 season to allow her body to rest.

“It is going to be totally different,” Charles said. “I think like the second half when Asjha wasn't around due to injury and after the Olympic break we had people step up so I believe everybody is professionals, whoever is going to be on the team this year and everybody will step up and do the best that they can.”

Charles is confident that Kelsey Griffiin is among the players who can step forward to fill the void left by Jones' absence.

"I always love the potential that Kelsey brings," Charles said. "I think when you play elsewhere you  your role changes on teams. When she was at Nebraska, she was the best player on the team and here she was more of a role player. Whatever adjustment she has to makes she always does in a professional manner, just the first one in and  the last one out."

That is a similar description that could be used to describe the newest member of the Connecticut Sun, former UConn star Kelly Faris.

"Having played with her for a year she was always quiet but to see her blossom during her collegiate career, it was unbelievable what she was able to do last year and the impact she had on her teammates," Charles said.

Charles, like so many of the former Huskies, took great pride in seeing UConn win its eighth national title earlier this month.

"I was at the Big East championship game when they played Notre Dame and that was a heartbreaker," Charles said. "I was definitely excited (after the national title game) because I know that feeling, Coach Auriemma he has a way of getting on you in the first preseason (practice) and he knows when the athletes turn that corner and they did, especially Breanna Stewart."

So what did Charles think about Stewart's performance at the Final Four?

"She is just an all around player, you could tell she wasn't just limited to one position and because of that, it definitely propelled UConn to get that championship," Charles said.



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