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James Banks 1994












    The Nike Lady Gym Rats started in 1994, much like every other travel programs are started; a father trying to help his daughter and her friends play competitive basketball. James Banks was that father. As he explains, “We were originally called the Speice Diamonds. We would get kids in a five mile radius from where we lived. We kept it fun and made it competitive in hopes of helping kids earn scholarships.” Interestingly his daughter would not stay with the program through high school, but that did not keep Banks from keeping the program alive. “She left to go play with Candace Parker in Chicago with the Chicago Hoop Express and the Illinois Jaguars when she was in 8th grade. She got to play with Candace and be coached by Parker’s father” Banks says. “That’s what was best for her at the time, but we kept working to build the program.” Banks also talked about how the team eventually earned notoriety. “We became a relevant program by playing teams from all over the country. Then in 2009 with a talented collection of girls playing for us, we turned a corner. We were playing very competitively.” By 2010 the Gym Rats program was center stage on the national scene.



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