By Garth Shanklin
Batavia High School volleyball players and coaches didn’t get to sleep in last weekend, as they spent the early morning on June 2-3 helping young players in the community learn the sport.
The Lady Wildcats hosted a youth camp last weekend, with 18 kids participating in a three hour camp both days. Head coach Erica Thomas said this year’s camp was a positive experience, especially for the first year.
“For my understanding, it’s been about 10 years since Batavia High School has run a youth camp,” Thomas said. “For our first year doing it, it went very well. Next year, we hope that we can get more kids to come.”
The camp ties in to the launch of youth volleyball in the area, and Thomas said she wants to tie the high school team into the Batavia area.
“I want volleyball to be more involved in the community,” Thomas said. “This is the first year that the Batavia Community Rec League has volleyball, so I wanted the high school kids to be more involved with the community and with the little ones since we don’t interact with them.”
This year’s camp allowed the players to get coaching from Batavia players and coaches, and the number of campers gave each one a chance for solid time with the instructors.
“It was really great, there was one coach for every two kids, so they really got a lot of coaching experience and one-on-one with the coaching staff, which I think helps,” Thomas said.
In addition to the time with the staff, campers got the chance to meet the high school players as well.
“They got to see the high schoolers, the coaching staff,” Thomas said. “I think they got to meet us and some of the high schoolers. There are only 18 of them this year, I think the first year was the hardest to get things up and running. Hopefully the kids will go home and tell their friends ‘We had so much fun and you should have came.’”
Thomas said the camp was designed to help players learn the basics of volleyball.
“We basically broke it down into how to pass, set, serve and hit,” Thomas said. “Everything the high schoolers do, just back to the basics. If you had never played volleyball and had never touched a volleyball, we took it back to how you would do that.”
Thomas said the feedback she received from parents was positive, and she was hoping to hear more after the camp.
“I had a couple parents who came in and picked up the kids, and they said they loved it and they couldn’t stop talking about it,” Thomas said.
The campers did drills similar to the ones done by the Batavia High School team, and some games were added in as well.
“Anything that the high school kids did, the little kids did too, just in an easier format,” Thomas said. “We had them play some games, like Queen of the Court. One of their favorite games we called Dead Fish, they laid on their bellies and tried to hit the ball as someone served it over. A lot of them loved it and wanted to play it the second day, because they played it the first day.”
In terms of future camps, Thomas said she may change the time frame to help more kids attend the event.
“I think next year we’re going to change the time frame, do it more while the kids are in school,” Thomas said. “I think we missed people who were taking their vacations, and we missed a few kids that way. Next year, maybe before the end of school we’ll run a camp during the week instead of the weekend, I think we’ll see more showing up for that.”
Thomas finished by saying she hoped the camp was enjoyed by the campers and added she hopes to expand it next year.
“We hope everyone enjoyed it, and we’ll be able to do it again next year,” Thomas said. “Maybe we’ll add more grade levels.”