Jaelyn Smith

Jaelyn Smith (right) prepares to send a serve shot over the net at one of several stations at the Bearcat Den to help teach youth the fundamentals of volleyball.

The excitement was palpable as a wave of youngsters made their way into the Bearcat Den last Wednesday for the final day of the 13th annual Youth Volleyball Camp hosted by the Douglas Lady Cats volleyball program.

A sea of nearly 60 kids spread out across the gym, each one as giddy as the next to learn the basics of the game and simply have a good time. The camp was put on Monday through Wednesday by DHS coaches Angela Rhoades and Melissa Hoopman, as well as several members of the Lady Cats varsity and junior varsity teams, including Haedyn Rhoades, Allyson Fertig, Joslin Igo, Braiden Johnson and Chloe Collins.

After playing a joyous game of tag to get their blood pumping, the children ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade broke into small groups and tackled techniques in order to become better volleyball players.

Rhoades, along with Kamdynn Townsend and Kinley Johnson, manned a station where they taught the youngsters proper setting and serving techniques. As she made her way around the court, stopping often to encourage the athletes, Angela explained the importance of teaching the basics at a young age before they learn more of the complex aspects of volleyball.

“It can be a challenge to teach some of the skills to the younger kids,” Rhoades pointed out. “We like to focus more on the skills rather than getting into games too much and it’s good for them to get an introduction early on.”

At another station run by Andi Hunsicker, smiles were plentiful as the youngest of the camp attendees took part in a game of duck, duck, goose.

Elsewhere, Fertig, Johnson and Igo focused on hitting at their station as each youngster stepped on to a platform in front of the volleyball net and sent the ball across as the teachers lobbed it to them.

“One more!,” one youngster said as she excitedly sent the ball over the net.

Shortly after the girls made their way to the final station, Rhoades and Hoopman gathered the campers together to thank them for coming out and working hard to learn more about the game of volleyball. She handed out complimentary T-shirts to each attendee and after a group photo, including the coaches and Lady Cats players, they each snagged a free frozen treat on their way out before heading home.

The smiles around the gym marked another successful camp.

“We love hosting this each year for the kids,” Rhoades said. “It’s a great opportunity for them to learn the fundamentals and become even more familiar with the game.”

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