STANTON — Unlike baseball, basketball and other sports, area youth leagues are not available for interested volleyball players.
Because of that, most volleyball players are not introduced to the sport until middle school and even high school for others.
The Central Montcalm youth volleyball camp is meant to introduce players to volleyball at an earlier age. The fifth through eighth grade camp completed a three-day run on Thursday at the high school.
“We have been trying to get them interested in volleyball,” Central Montcalm varsity coach Haley Dawe said. “I feel like a lot of other sports they start, like basketball and baseball, at such a young age. This is their first experience with volleyball other than what they get in gym class.”
So this camp tries to teach campers a little bit of each skill needed to play the sport.
“We’ve been practicing passing, setting, hitting and all of our basics. We try to put some fun stuff in there, as well,” Dawe said.
The number of participants increased dramatically this year. With nearly 50 attending, campers were split into skill stations, instead of working all together.
“With this many numbers we have broken each skill down into stations,” Dawe said. “I’m lucky I have about 20 high school helpers each day to help run stations. We had 49 kids sign up and usually around 25-30 each year.”
Dawe is now teaching at the upper elementary school and believes that is one reason for the increase in numbers, as she now has a chance to recruit younger players into the program.
“I’m sure a part of it is because my job switched and I’m teaching at the upper elementary school now,” Dawe said. “I know a lot of these girls now. Also, we’ve had a lot of positive high schoolers that have been involved and have gotten the younger girls excited about volleyball.”
For Dawe, the best part of the camp is seeing the excitement on the faces of the athletes.
“I love the excitement. High schoolers put a lot of pressure on themselves,” Dawe said. “With the younger girls, they are excited when the first time they get a serve over or a successful hit. It’s nice to see how excited they are about volleyball.”
The Central Montcalm varsity team will compete at a team camp at Central Michigan University in July. The first day of fall practice in Aug. 14.
The Hornets will open the season Aug. 23 at the Carson City-Crystal Invitational. They compete the next day at Belding as part of The Daily News Invitational.