The 16th Annual Volleyball Camp hit the gym floor of St. Thomas Aquinas last week, giving another round of eager young students the chance to hone their volleyball skills.
"I've done it since I've been able to. I love the sport and Megan all the coaches that she has come help out," said super senior student at STA, Brie McCardle.
Kenora Catholic District School Board Healthy Living Lead, Megan Derouard, runs the volleyball camp which took place July 2-6.
"We were lucky to bring in a lot of good coaches this year. We have Autumn Davidson who plays for University of Calgary, Craig Dufresne who plays for Algonquin and Alix Burkart who is a St. Thomas Aquinas alumni. Kids are lucky to be getting this experience with them," she said.
The camp was at maximum capacity this year with 63 kids taking part. They were split into three different groups according to their Grade. All Grade 6, 7 and 8 students were in one group, Grade 9 and 10 students played together in another, and finally, the Grade 11 and 12 students made up the senior group.
Grade 11 student at Dryden District High School, Emily Heil, made the trip to be in the camp. She spoke about what she'd been working on during the week.
"Volleyball is my favourite sport and I wanted to get better. I have a few things I need to work on but at least I know now. I need to have a faster block and adapt to the new blocking technique," she said.
Derouard said the improvement she sees in the kids during the week is her favourite part of the entire experience.
"When the kids come in on day one some of the young kids have a really tough time. They don't know the difference between volleying and bumping. The progress is unexplainable, it always is and this is my favourite part of camp," she said. "You see a kid come in and they can barely pass the ball and by the end of the week they're passing right to the spot. You start at developing and end with refining a specific skill."
The camp ended with a bunch of skills challenges and then a showcase game where the different age groups all competed in front of their peers. Derouard added that a unique part of this camp is the addition of a fitness trainer.
"We hire a personal fitness trainer who comes in for 30 minutes so that they get the proper muscle memory to train to become an athlete. You need to build skill but also strength to compete at a high level. Heidi Smith has been a great addition to our camp," she said.
Derouard will have just a few weeks to rest before leading a new multi-skills camp for students in Grades 4, 5 and 6. This camp will help develop athletic skills in soccer, basketball and volleyball. While the camp is almost full, there are a few spots left open for registration.