Raising the standard
Intensive five-day volleyball camp with professional coaches coming to Barrhead in July
So you think you can play volleyball, Barrhead?
For three of the last four seasons, Barrhead’s senior boys were provincial kings of the court. They showed they could dip, dink, tip and dunk with the best of their peers. They had good blockers and hitters, and some could flaunt a flashy jump serve.
But they know, their coaches know, and their fans know there is room for improvement, especially if the Gryphons want to reclaim the provincial crown after last season’s fourth place finish in Medicine Hat.
The Gryphons — and any grade 7-12 Barrhead boy or girl — now have a chance to sharpen skills under the eagle-eyed scrutiny of professional and national team players. Impact Volleyball Camp (IVC) will bring top-notch volleyball training to the Barrhead Composite High School gyms between July 9 and 13.
“It is unique in Canada because the coaches are professional athletes,” said IVC managing director and former British national player Nathan Bennett, who hails from Athabasca.
“The IVC coaches have played for men’s and women’s teams all over the world — Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland and many other places.”
“I would loved to have attended such a camp when I was growing up,” he added. “I did go to camps, which were a great help, but not one with the standard of coaching IVC offers.”
It is the first time Barrhead has been chosen for the five-day camp, which was started eight years ago.
“We have heard about Barrhead doing wonderful things in volleyball,” said Bennett. “It has been getting a great reputation for volleyball, so we thought we would come here and try to boost the talent.”
Camps will also be held in Athabasca (July 16-20), Vegreville (July 16-20), Westlock (July 23-27), Fort St. John (July 30-Aug 3), Peace River (Aug 6-10), Grande Prairie (Aug 13-17), and Prince George (Aug 20-24). They are open to boys and girls of any ability.
The cost is $400. Only one person in Barrhead took advantage of an early registration fee of $350.
“It would be great if we could get about 24 people so they can perform in groups and play against each other,” said Bennett.
The camp’s first day will begin at 8 a.m. on Monday; the early start allows registration to take place. Athletes should bring their e-ticket and medical waiver to check in. They will then be put through basic physical and skills testing to determine groupings for the rest of the week.
Between Tuesday and Thursday sessions will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Final day times are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Participants should bring their lunch on Monday through Thursday.
Camp director will be Emily Blouin, from St. Albert, who plays for the Austrian Bundesliga. Helping her will be coaches James Battison, from Malton, Ont., who plays in Klagenfurt, Austria and Nina Schwanke, from Brazil, a double provincials gold medal winner in her home country who also earned a Canadian Interuniversity Sports All Canadian Honourable Mention.
It is yet to be determined who the fourth coach will be.
Bennett said the camp would focus on improving athletes’ individual and team play skills, as well as strengthening mental and physical abilities for the long term.
There will be daily sessions on each skill — serving, passing, setting, defence, attacking and blocking — and lessons on a specific position, such as outside, middle and setter.
“Athletes will play games every day,” said Bennett. “It will be a chance for them to practise the techniques they learned in their skills sessions.”
Coaches will not only focus on drill. They will also drive home the importance of diet for health, attitude and performance.
The camp will culminate in a tournament on Friday. Where possible, there will be a special demonstration match between coaches and local volleyball players.
Camp participants will receive an IVC season T-shirt and an IVC water bottle.
For more information go to the camp’s website, www.impactvolleyballcamp.com.
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