ROCHELLE — Rochelle Township High School volleyball players and coaches were front and center this past week, when they had the chance to work with grade-schoolers and middle-schoolers during the program’s annual youth summer camp June 24-27. The four-day camp took place at the RTHS main gymnasium from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
“It’s really fun seeing the fifth and sixth-graders we’ve had over the last few years grow into their seventh and eighth-grade years,” head coach Molly Sly said. “It’s fun seeing their skills at the eighth-grade level improve as they become ninth-graders at the high school level. It’s amazing how the girls can improve in four years and they get so much better.”
The camp helps beginning and experienced volleyball players learn fundamental skills including blocking, serving, setting, hitting, digging and passing. Advanced campers spent more time learning offensive and defensive strategies as they prepare for middle school and, eventually, high school volleyball.
“We want to introduce volleyball to the younger girls so they can learn rotations and how the game is played,” Sly said. “Whether it’s overhand passing or underhand passing… It’s fun seeing how some girls, who may not have had many skills prior to the camp, walk away understanding the game and wanting to play the game more often. The older girls work on serving zones and not just getting the ball over the net.”
The camp includes daily scrimmages where players can practice the skills they learn during live matches against their peers. Each camper receives a T-shirt at the conclusion of camp. For Sly, who will be entering her second season as RTHS head coach, introducing volleyball at the youth level is paramount for creating more depth at the high school level.
“Especially for the fifth-graders, it’s really important to come to the camp so they can decide whether or not they want to commit to volleyball,” Sly said. “It’s a great four days to get a taste of how volleyball is played.”