Making small adjustments each year to keep the interest high, the Seymour volleyball camp continues to be a hit for young girls in the area.
This past week, around 50 athletes attended the camp hosted at the middle school.
Hayley Harpe, an incoming eighth-grader, hasn’t missed a camp in years.
“I’ve been coming to camp since I was in the first grade,” Harpe said. “It’s really fun, and we do different stuff every time. The coaches teach us a lot with all of their experience. I think this is getting me ready for high school volleyball.”
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Varsity coach Holly Birdsong directed the camp with help from assistant coaches and players from the high school program.
Kindergarten through fifth grade took to the courts from 9:30 to 11 a.m., while the sixth- through eighth-graders practiced from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
“This year, we’re running five stations for the groups with passing, setting, hitting, serving and blocking,” Birdsong said. “The little kids are also doing an obstacle course, which is always one of their favorites.
“We have the same stations this year, but this time, we changed it a little for our older kids. They’re doing harder activities at their stations. They wanted to get more involved in some of the things our high school kids do.”
Birdsong said there were about 25 kids in each section, which is up a little from last year.
For third-grader Emmy Otte, it was her second time attending camp.
“Me and my sister really love volleyball,” Otte said. “My favorite part is passing. I’m going to come back next year because it’s really fun.”
Birdsong said the high-schoolers always volunteer to come out and teach the younger girls.
“I don’t have any trouble getting our high school girls to come out and do this,” she said. “They fight over who gets to be with which group. They love these kids and are always encouraging them along the way.”
May of the current freshman, junior varsity and varsity players were once campers.
“Most of the girls that are in high school now have come to the camp for consecutive years,” Birdsong said. “I think they’ve enjoyed it growing up. We started the mini volleyball five years ago, and some of those started attending this camp.”
Gracie Adams, an incoming fifth-grader, wants to be like her mentors.
“I love volleyball, and I really want to be on the high school volleyball team,” Adams said. “It’s really cool to learn from them. I want to be just like them.”
The kindergarten through second-graders played on badminton nets with ultralight balls, third to fifth grade had lowered nets with light balls and the middle-schoolers played under regular conditions.
“We want them to be successful and get the ball over the net,” Birdsong said. “We don’t want them to struggle. We use the different weights with the balls so it doesn’t hurt the littler girls. We don’t want them to not like the sport because it’s too painful for them to pass a ball that’s too heavy for them.”
Why do the kids keep coming back? Birdsong thinks it’s a handful of reasons.
“I think that we do a lot of fun activities with them,” Birdsong said. “We always have games going on and have music playing. We have different contests that go as far as who has the best dance moves and who is the loudest. We try to keep them entertained while also playing volleyball.”