Washington’s Junior Volleyball Skills Clinic enters third year

Published 1:23 pm Monday, June 15, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS HEAVY HITTERS: Last year’s volleyball clinic drew dozens of players with varying levels of experience.

HEAVY HITTERS: Last year’s volleyball clinic drew dozens of players with varying levels of experience.

The mission to replace Washington High School’s volleyball core — recent graduates Adriana Tyson, Abby Walker, Alexis Brooks and Allison Brantley — begins with the basics.

Next week, Washington coach Kelly Slade and P.S. Jones coach Kristen Slade will hold the annual Junior Volleyball Skills Camp for elementary and middle school students. The mission is to teach those interested in volleyball the fundamentals of the sport and, most importantly, have fun. The camp will take place at Washington High School.

“The reason I started doing the camp was just to get the community excited about volleyball,” Kelly Slade said. “We’re still working on that, getting everyone pumped up about volleyball, not just Washington.”

In its third year, the camp perennially draws dozens of interested players from a range of different backgrounds with varying skillsets. The younger camp, which will take place Monday and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon, will host students from rising grades first to fifth. The older camp, beginning on July 27, will feature students from rising grades sixth to eighth.

Kids spend the morning participating in enjoyable and informative drills, as coaches and current Pam Pack players help teach basic serving, hitting and defensive principals. Activities range from serving challenges, relay games and casual matches.

“We focus a lot on passing,” Slade said. “I think that’s one of, if not the most important aspect in volleyball. We really work on giving the kids the fundamentals of passing, teaching them some drills they can actually work on at home, individually or with a partner.”

Prizes, including Washington athletic “swag,” bracelets, water bottles and T-shirts, will be awarded each drill and every student will receive a complimentary T-shirt just for participating.

As the camp has grown, so has the experience level. Slade is finding increased interest in the sport of volleyball, along with more experience.

“I’m seeing more girls that have experience, but most of the younger girls don’t have much experience and they’re just doing it for fun,” Slade said. “Even some of the middle school girls don’t have any experience. It’s a mix every year. We’re trying to teach them all fundamentals and to have fun at the same time.”

Assisting Slade will be a host of potential Pam Pack starters, including Meghan Moore, Charity Gardner and Alexis Matkin. Tyson and Brantley, who helped with last year’s camp, will also be lending a hand.

With the success of P.S. Jones’ volleyball program last fall, Slade hopes implementing fundamentals at a young age will better the product down the road at the high school level.

“Kristen is working out feeder program at P.S. Jones and they had a great team last year,” Slade said. “Of course we’re working with those girls and I have plenty of spots open in my program. It’s always good to see them as much as I can.”

The camp costs $60 and registration is open until the end of the week.