POWHATAN – Some of the campers were young; with joy, the new Powhatan Volleyball head coach Cindy Bryant pointed to the “two awesome seven-year-olds” who were in attendance.
Some were older; one out-of-state 16-year-old volleyball player was staying in the area for the summer, and she had come to the camp to further her preparation for the coming season with her team down in South Carolina.
Some girls were playing volleyball for the first time. Others have been regulars on the court since elementary school.
But for four days of camp (July 15-18), 44 girls ranging in ages, skill level and playing experience came together at Powhatan High School with instruction from Powhatan’s coaches and older players to learn and enjoy the game of volleyball.
“It’s cool that all different ages and skills and years of playing volleyball and experience can come together and just have fun playing,” said rising Powhatan High School senior Star Bryant, who was also one of the camp’s court coaches.
“It’s really rewarding to see how happy they get doing it,” added rising junior and court coach Natalie Mueller. “I don’t think I had a camp like this…and it’s nice to see how many girls find out about it and want to play volleyball, too.”
The camp taught four basic skills to all groups who attended: passing, setting, serving and attacking. The girls were divided into three courts – beginner, intermediate and advanced - with players getting the opportunity to advance courts during the week and also learn blocking on the upper court.
Rising sophomores, juniors and seniors in the Powhatan volleyball program, like Bryant and Mueller, helped out with the camp as court coaches, leading the campers through the stations and also putting themselves in the mix of drills so that the campers can see what they, too, can aim for.
“They’ll feel more comfortable coming up to varsity,” Mueller added of the incoming players. “It gives them a chance to say, ‘Oh! They’re just like me! They’re not scary…’ I feel like with us teaching them and helping them, they’re not going to be scared or anything.”
“And it’s fun because…we’re not only coaching them; we’re interacting and playing with them,” Bryant said.
Overseeing the camp was new Coach Cindy Bryant, who before Powhatan was the head of the James River Home School Foundation’s Volleyball program in Richmond for 4 years, running middle school, JV and varsity teams while there; she’s also the cofounder and director at Momentum Volleyball in Powhatan and has seen a lot of girls come through the club’s summer camps.
“I’m excited! It’s my first experience with [the Powhatan volleyball camp] and it’s going great,” Bryant said, “and it’s really fun to see what you learn about your own players as they lead others in the skills, because you really have to understand the skill to be able to teach it well, so it’s fun to watch your own players grow in the ability to coach a court.”
Mueller added: “I feel like it helps me to learn how to lead a group and be confident with that.”
With the goal of setting a new culture for Powhatan Girls Volleyball, the program is focusing on character and how that character affects a team’s play on the court. This year’s theme is “Passion, Humility, Service (PHS).”
“I’m a huge culture coach; I believe it’s almost as important as the skill on the court in affecting your team’s ability to work well together to achieve your goal,” Coach Bryant said. “I’m excited because I think the girls are buying-in to a new culture, and seeing them jump on board with where we’re trying to head it.”