December 6, 2021 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Former rivals give back with youth girls’ basketball program

Growing up, Andrea Flenniken was a Spartan.

Flenniken graduated from St. Joseph-Ogden High School in 1996 and played girls’ basketball for the Spartans.

“I grew up loving basketball,” Flenniken said.

Now Flenniken, who currently lives in Pesotum, is helping young girls learn to cherish the sport she holds with great affection.

How? By starting a travel basketball team for area girls.

Three years ago she formed Team Torment. At the time the team was for fifth graders. Now there are teams for girls in grades four through seventh.

“At least a couple times a week we are getting inquiries regarding when the next set of tryouts will be,” Flenniken said. “We are anticipating being bigger next year.”

Flenniken was comfortable doing work behind the scenes, but she wanted to find the best coach possible.

She found her in Heather Craven, who graduated from Unity in 1996.
Craven, from Tolono, has coached girls basketball for years.

Despite being rivals in high school, Flenniken knew she was the right woman for the job.

“There weren’t any teams around here for young adults, especially females,” Craven said. “I didn’t have this opportunity growing up.”

When Flenniken approached her, Craven was originally hesitant but was eventually won over when Flenniken promised Craven could focus her attention on the coaching aspect.

And she has.

Craven, who played basketball at Danville Area Community College, is working on building the girls’ understanding of basketball fundamentals in a safe and disciplined environment.

“I love seeing kids do something they couldn’t do before,” she said. “Sometimes it takes a month or six months, but then you see a lightbulb go off in their head.”

Sixth-grader Katelyn Gorrell said joining the team has improved her basketball skills, something she credits Craven for.

“She pushes us hard,” she said. “But if they go easy on you, you aren’t going to learn anything.”

Gorrell’s mom, Cheri, said that Katelyn’s skills have improved, as has her sportsmanship.

Cheri said the team has taught her daughter that everyone on a team matters and every one counts.

“You need to build on that to improve on the team as well,” she said.

The team is another full-time job for Flenniken and Craven.

Flenniken said she often puts in 30 to 40 hours a week of work on the team and Craven is at practice multiple nights each week with all the teams.

But they both feel the hard work is worth it because they know how important the team is to the girls and their futures.

Flenniken said there is research that says girls that participate in multiple sports at a young age have better careers and go further in life. Plus, the team offers the girls friendships they may not otherwise form.

Craven said watching girls from different schools come together and form friendships is one of the best parts of the team.

The team includes girls from schools in St. Joseph, Champaign, Rossville, Monticello, Georgetown, Shiloh, Tuscola, Tolono, Mahomet and Catlin.

Flenniken said the team also helps the girls learn how to win as well as teaching them about work ethic and drive.

“The ability to never give up is something I have taken with me even in my nursing career,” Flenniken said. ‘There is no laziness. You just do and never give up.”

Flenniken’s daughter, Raegen Stringer, competes on the seventh-grade team.

Stringer said that the team has instilled a strong work ethic in her.

“If you work hard it will pay off,” Stringer said.

That hard work has been on display as the girls have competed in numerous tournaments over the years.

Originally, they played in semi-local tournaments. Now, they have branched out to tournaments in Chicago and Indianapolis—trips the girls have enjoyed.

Addison Ray, who is on the seventh-grade team, said the trips to Chicago have been rewarding.

“They are tall, tall,” she said. “I like to have challenging moments in sports.”

Andrew Moore, whose daughter Katey Moore is on the seventh-grade team, agreed that the tournaments are enjoyable.

Moore said it allows him to spend quality time with his daughter.

“It is great,” he said. “We have fun and these days kids are busy. They want their gadgets and stuff, but this is time we have her all to ourselves.”

Flenniken said hearing the girls say they are having fun and enjoying being on the team brings her happiness because the entire purpose of the team was to allow the athletes to have fun and enjoy the game.

“It’s about them,” she said.

Just the facts:
Raegen Stringer, Addison Ray, Katey Moore, Tayten Hunter, Addison Frick and Halle Brazelton were on the team during its first year and currently compete on the seventh grade team.

For more information visit

The team can also be found on Facebook at

in People
Related Posts

Kids say

October 22, 2019

October 22, 2019

Every week we ask area students questions about being a farmer. This week we spoke to kids at PVO South....

Krall joins Longview Bank

April 22, 2021

April 22, 2021

Brad Krall is coming home. Krall is now the Loan Officer and Mortgage Lender at Longview Bank in St. Joseph....

‘They want to show their support of the law enforcement and their family’

June 2, 2021

June 2, 2021

Jim and Jen Wagner support their community, so when a friend came in to their store, Wagner signs and Graphics,...

A familiar face to lead PVO

February 25, 2019

February 25, 2019

Jeffrey Isenhower will start a new job on July 1, 2020. He will take over the Prairieview-Ogden superintendent for Vic...

10 things you don’t know about me.. Angi Landis

January 24, 2019

January 24, 2019

Every Wednesday we ask a person who lives or works in an area town to tell us 10 interesting things...

Spartan Spotlight… Kendall Ayers

April 8, 2020

April 8, 2020

Kendall Ayers has plans to travel after graduating from high school. The St. Joseph-Ogden senior plans to take a vacation...

A cut above: St. Joseph resident and hair stylist Milt offering free haircuts for students

August 14, 2019

August 14, 2019

Nicole Milt wants to help kids feel good about themselves. So Milt has volunteered to do free haircuts for students...

10 things you don’t know about me….. Gerald McClendon

September 6, 2019

September 6, 2019

St. Joseph resident and owner of Little Bear Hauling Gerald McClendon tells us 10 things about himself! My favorite childhood...

10 things you don’t know about me… Stacey Livingston

July 31, 2019

July 31, 2019

Every week we ask an area resident to tell us 10 interesting things about themselves. This week we spoke to...

10 things you don’t know about me… Jim Cotter

August 19, 2020

August 19, 2020

My favorite childhood memory is going to Kings Island with my family every summer on vacation My first pet was...

10 things you don’t know about me… Karin Poulter

February 6, 2020

February 6, 2020

Every week we ask an area resident to tell us 10 things we don’t know about them. This week we...

Ceremony to honor Edwards scheduled for Thursday

December 9, 2020

December 9, 2020

A Gift of Hope Flag raising ceremony will be held on Dec. 10 at 4 p.m. at the St, Joseph-Ogden...

10 things you don’t know about me… Carrie Mattsey

September 27, 2019

September 27, 2019

Every week we ask an area resident to tell us 10 interesting facts about themselves. This week we spoke to...

‘St. Joseph is better because of Dixie Hackler’

January 20, 2020

January 20, 2020

Dixie Hackler always had a smile on her face. Always made time for others. And always made sure others knew...

10 Things You Don’t Know about me… Casey Phillips

April 16, 2019

April 16, 2019

Casey Phillips is active in the St. Joseph Women’s Club, a mom to two girls, a dental assistant and helps...

Leave a Reply