Article and Photography by ALICE MARY HERDEN
The Springstead volleyball program hosted their two-day summer volleyball camp on July 27 and 28 at the Springstead gym for 3rd to 8th graders.
“The biggest excitement is seeing so many upcoming 8th graders and asking them, Oh, what high school you going for, and they all (say) Springstead,” Coach Andrea Gracey said. “Another exciting part is a lot of the girls who have either graduated or are currently part of our program are seeing their younger siblings taking advantage of it.”
Summer sporting camps are for kids to learn the fundamentals of a sport and encourage interest and the opportunity for everyone to participate. “A majority of the people here you see are girls, but it was really great to see some guys come out,” Gracey said.
Over 20 campers attending the camp took part in activities that involved learning key functions for any player interested in playing volleyball or learning new skills for those already involved in the sport at their school. “I think number one is showing them that volleyball is fun. But then also showing them the fundamentals of volleyball. We start off camp the same way we start off practice; serve-receive, serving, and passing. The first half of both days have been those fundamentals, and then we get into the fun stuff, like hitting or setting,” Gracey said.
Current volleyball players on the 2021 roster were there to help and be an active part of the mini-camp. They also learned an essential aspect of the game: communication. “It’s helping their communication. I am seeing these girls break out of their shells and learn how to communicate with all different ages. It's really teaching them a lot of skills outside of the court-skills. Maybe they won’t go on and play college volleyball but they can use volleyball to become a coach, a mentor in their professional world. That’s the philosophy of my entire program. If I go to teach the girls to play at the next level, I am lucky to touch one girl a year, but if I am teaching them to be better women in society, then I am touching 100% of the girls all the time,” Gracey said.
For Coach Gracey, Coach Jordan, and the Lady Eagles, this camp was a success for their first fundraising event. The involvement and opportunities for kids to participate in camps like these bring the community together.
“I would love to see these girls and boys come to our home matches, just so they have friendships, that mentorship. Everything that our program is built off of is that ‘Springstead family.’ But if they learn one thing and leave here wanting to continue to play volleyball, then it’s a win-win,” Gracey said.
Going into her third season as Springstead’s volleyball coach, she mentioned this upcoming season is all about focusing and rebuilding the talent on the court. “Every single year, you don’t know what talent you are going to get,” Gracey said. She is looking for those who want to be a part of the positive hard-working culture that she and Coach Jordan have established over the years. “It really is a rebuilding year. I am only graduating one senior this year. So this year, my focus is- what is our two-year strategy and what is our three-year strategy because looking at the talent coming up, we’re going to be a young raw team,” Gracey said.
Having those strategies in place is an excellent start to begin the season; after all, they are a young team moving forward to take on those challenges. “I think it’s about agility and perseverance, and as a coach, I just have to be able to look at each opponent as a different challenge every single time. We might not have a winning season, and I am OK with that, but how are we going to use every single game to our advantage to build on it. I have to put the end result on the back burner right now and think of it as baby steps in the right direction every single time,” Gracey said.
The Lady Eagles have a preseason game at Nature Coast Tech on August 17th against Weeki Wachee. The game starts at 5:30 pm.