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Draper Journal

CCHS basketball player representing U.S. at United World Games

Jan 22, 2020 10:58AM ● By Catherine Garrett

Corner Canyon’s Alexa Orten was selected to the eight-member U.S. team that will represent the country at this summer’s United World Games. (Photo courtesy Jennifer Orten)

By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]

The United World Games is the largest youth sports tournament with more than 12,000 athletes from over 40 countries competing in 16 sports and Corner Canyon High junior Alexa Orten was named to the eight-member girls basketball squad for the United States. The team will spend 10 days in Italy, Austria and Germany from June 22 to July 1.

“This is a really cool opportunity and I’m way excited,” said Orten, who speaks four languages, including English, Mandarin, Arabic and Spanish.

Jody Burrows, with Student Athlete World Tours (SaWUSA), said Alexa’s “contagious energy” was hard to miss as she assembled the team from tryouts in 10 cities nationwide. “Alexa has traveled more than most people will in their entire life and that experience with traveling and studying were just the tip of the iceberg that makes her super intriguing,” Burrows said. “On a trip like this, where you are quickly immersed into other cultures and even strangers who you will be competing side by side with, those athletes are positively contagious, help make their teams successful and also the trip really fun. Alexa’s attitude, experience and perspective will be such a positive addition to the 2020 UWG tour and we are really excited she is part of the women’s basketball team who will compete to bring home a gold medal.”

Former CCHS girls basketball coach Jeramy Acker wasn’t surprised at Orten’s inclusion on the U.S. team. “Alexa is an exceptional student-athlete which has demonstrated individual motivation to excel in the classroom and on the basketball court,” Acker said. “She is an exceptional ball handler with potential to score in any situation when given the opportunity to attack the rim while also creating offense off the dribble for her teammates. I know she is a hard-working, goal-oriented player because she is continually improving herself in multiple facets of life, including basketball and academics.”

The daughter of John and Jennifer Orten of Draper felt it was a “long shot” to try and make the team, but submitted a highlight video, some letters of recommendation and a personal statement to SaWUSA and it was during Alexa’s interview that Burrows offered her a place on the squad, something Burrows had never done on the spot before. Alexa even received a job offer beyond the tour experience.

Orten was in competitive gymnastics when she was younger and “got out before I got hurt”, turning to basketball in the seventh grade. “As soon as I started playing, I knew it was my sport,” she said. “The gymnastics part of me keeps me reaching for that ‘perfect 10’ where there is always more to learn and that really pushes me.” 

One time, after trying to drive with her left hand, Orten had the ball stolen from her and decided that, ‘I’ll never let that happen again.’ That experience motivated her to practice her ball-handling more, particularly with her left hand, for hours in her basement.

Her mother, Jennifer Orten said, “Alexa’s gotten so good at dribbling with her left hand that many teams think she’s left handed. She also took her gymnastics skills and can jump, rebound and has great body control.” Following a stint on an 8th grade boys team, she has been playing high school ball and joined Corner Canyon’s squad her sophomore season, steadily becoming an important part of the Chargers program. This season, she led the team in scoring with 16 points in its opening-night loss to Timpanogos 60-51. At the Harry Burchell Classic, Alexa received the All-Tournament medal for scoring 24 points in wins over Mountain Ridge 60-43 and Roy 45-35. She is currently the leading scorer on Corner Canyon’s 8-7 squad and is tops on the team in steals.

Alexa said basketball has taught her life lessons that she is able to use on and off the court. “I feel like I’ve learned that every little detail matters so it’s important to stay focused and engaged,” she said. “Also, you really don’t have time to get down on yourself, so it’s helped me to get up and keep going.”

Alexa is looking forward to this summer’s opportunity to take those skills as an athlete and an ambassador for the U.S. “Having sports as the medium to allow for international travel and to have the opportunity to represent our great country is really special,” Burrow said.