ANSONIA – Almost 60 girls in the fourth through eighth grades attended Ansonia’s youth volleyball camp last week.
Ansonia varsity volleyball coach Craig Riethman led the three-day camp along with junior varsity coach Katie Walters and members of Ansonia’s high school volleyball team.
“The high schoolers did a phenomenal job because instead of having one group of 60 grades four through eight we had groups of four and groups of five with a high schooler,” Riethman “And each high schooler could teach them the skill, and that allowed us to make a lot more progress.
“(The high school girls) did a good job of making it their own as well. Like some of the girls were eighth graders and some were fourth graders so we gave them a basic idea to do, I showed them how to do it then the girls ran with it. If they were a little bit more skilled they would throw the balls at them harder, back them up a little further, change the drill to one of them that are higher level or change the drill, scale it down, to something that’s a little easier. And they did a really good job of modifying it to fit the needs of each kid.”
On the first day of the camp the girls learned about passing, on day two they learned about setting, and on the final day they focused on serving and hitting.
“We did basically the same drills all three days, but they became more advanced because we added in the setting then we added in the hitting for the girls,” Riethman said.
Entering the camp the 58 girls had varying levels of volleyball experience including some who had never touched a volleyball. But throughout the week they all showed a lot of progress.
“It was kind of neat to see their confidence grow,” Riethman said. “They started to smile more, they had more fun on day two and day three because they weren’t so confused about where to go and a lot of that is organization, too.”
Along with drills the girls got to play some games and compete in relay races. It was important they had fun, Riethman said, so they’ll maintain an interest in the sport.
“The most important thing was that they went home with a volleyball and they had fun because if that was the case then there’s a good chance they’re going to continue to play at home,” he said. “We don’t see as much as we used to where there’s kids outside playing with volleyballs and shooting hoops as much as they used to, and I really think if we send everybody home with a volleyball maybe it will just encourage them to get outside a little bit more and play.”
Along with being a positive experience for the campers, Riethman said, it was a great experience for his high school athletes.
“As a team we don’t communicate very well,” he said. “Some of the things we did were very basic – we shook their teammate’s hand, and they introduced themselves, and they looked each other in the eye, and they had to have little conversations, which was actually pretty hard for the high schoolers and the younger kids to do. We did that for a couple days in a row, and they made it fun. It was all in good fun, but at the same time they need to get a little bit uncomfortable and be able to talk to their teammates a little bit more so that was pretty cool.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.