Coaching them up

Volleyball camp teaches fundamentals to youngsters

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena Community College volleyball coach Sarah Parsons demonstrates proper technique to a camper for a passing drill during a joint volleyball camp pairing the ACC and Alpena High programs with youth players.

The Alpena High School and Alpena Community College volleyball programs went back to basics this week.

Players from both programs held their first ever joint volleyball camp during a three-day stretch at Thunder Bay Junior High School. The camp began on Thursday and will continue through Saturday.

Some 25-30 campers in grades 3-8 have taken part in the camp, which is run by Alpena High coach Kolby Andrews and ACC coach Sarah Parsons. Players from both programs are serving as camp coaches as well.

The camp allows older players to pass their skills on to younger players, many of who are getting their first prolonged exposure to volleyball.

“With volleyball camp, and any camp, I feel like if you start young and you repetitively teach them what they need to know, they can only get better as the years advance. A volleyball camp helps them what the fundamentals are,” Parsons said. “They’ve been having a lot of fun. Just getting to know them I think helps and them being able to work with the older girls, I think that’s exciting for them.”

News Photo by James Andersen ACC player Jessica Leeck passes the ball to a camper during a passing drill. The volleyball camp focused on mastering fundamentals and paired each camper with either a high school or a college player.

For the younger campers, the camp is a chance to learn the basics of volleyball: how it’s played, how to pass, how to serve and how to hit. For the middle schoolers, the camp is a chance to learn some more advanced skills and game strategy from older players.

Thursday’s afternoon camp started with a focus on passing drills, learning proper footwork and body positioning to be able to pass the ball to teammates. Each camper was paired with a high school or college player to work on different drills one-on-one.

Parsons said while the camp is meant to coach up younger players, the players serving as coaches also benefit because they have to break things down into small details to teach different skills.

“I think it helps them too because they’re able to explain kind of what needs to be done. They have to go back through the fundamentals of what they need to do in order to explain it,” Parsons said. “So they kind of have to start fresh too.

In addition to many Alpena youth attending the camp, it also drew several campers from the surrounding area. Watching their day-to-day progress is rewarding for both Parsons and Andrews, who both said they hope to make the camp an annual event.

“It sparks interest, it helps develop skills in younger kids. We don’t really have elementary programs, so it’s summer camps and weekend things where kids get their first exposure to these sports,” Andrews said. “You can tell some of the kids who have been around older siblings or parents (who played and) come in that already have a foundation. May have played it in gym classes, so this is just a little more formal introduction for them. Plus it’s fun for them to play with the high school kids and the college kids and see some of the drills that those girls do and some of the things they work on.”