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Camp is all about making volleyball fun, while also improving people's skill level and performance

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Mattee Simmons spikes the ball during the Cowgirl Volleyball Camp that was held Monday and Tuesday in Prineville. Players from throughout Central Oregon attended the camp. Simmons played on the Cowgirls' JV team last yearMonday and Tuesday, the sounds of volleyballs and happy voices echoed through the halls of Crook County High School.

No, the season hasn't started yet. It was the annual Cowgirl Volleyball Camp. The camp was geared for volleyball players from third through ninth grade, with Crook County High School coach Kristy Struck directing the camp, while members of the varsity volleyball team helped coach the younger players.

"It's been really good," Struck said during a break in the action on Tuesday. "We had a real good turnout this year. Just a lot of fun and getting better with volleyball. I just want kids to love volleyball, that's what it's all about."

The camp was divided into two sections, with the younger players in one gym and incoming ninth-graders in the other gym.

Players in both gyms focused on improving skills. Struck was quick to point out that all the players worked on the same drills, just older players did the drills faster and with more skill.

Several players on last year's varsity and JV teams were also in the gym.

Some of those players participated in drills, demonstrating exactly what was expected and honing their own skills, while others watched players intently and then offered advice and encouragement.

"It's good for the younger kids and it's good for the freshmen that are able to attend, and it's also good for the girls that come and coach," Struck said. "When you get to coach a skill, it makes you better when you actually perform that skill. The high school kids have been doing a lot. The have been coaching a ton."

Although the majority of players were from Prineville, Struck noted that there were a handful of players from Paisley, some from Bend, and a few from Redmond.

She noted that the number of participants was up despite the camp being put on what was already a busy week, with kids getting ready for the Crook County Fair, and other local activities going on as well.

"I thought that doubles started on the 12th (the first day of practice does not start until Aug. 19 this year, starting later than a year ago)," she said. "So I thought that this was the only time that I could do it. If I was smart I would have done it next week and I probably would have had even more kids."

Still, Struck was pleased with the effort that she was seeing from the younger players and with how well the older players were interacting with their future teammates.

In addition to using the camp to prepare for the upcoming season, Struck also used the opportunity to make sure that all the players knew the volleyball schedule for the upcoming season, knew the team's expectations, and knew what the schedule will be once practice officially starts.

Struck also worked hard on interpersonal relationships. Since taking the head coaching job earlier this year, she has made it clear that one of her top priorities is that her players will treat each other kindly and will leave the program as better people than they were when they came into the program.

"I think they are getting it," she said with a smile. "The older kids have been encouraging and being kind and learning how to take care of the kids that will be their future."

Struck was leaving immediately after the camp to run a team camp at Vale High School.

"It's a totally different focus," she said of the second camp. "It's all high school kids. We are going to do the same drills, it's just going to be at a faster pace and they are going to be tougher. It's my second year in Vale, and I'm glad that they invited me back and they like it."

Volleyball practice schedule

OSAA Fall Practices begin on Monday, Aug. 19: information

Monday, Aug. 19: 8:30 -11:30 a.m. and 3:30 - 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 20: 8 - 11:30 a.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 21: 8:30 -11:30 a.m. and 3:30 - 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 22: 8 -11:30 a.m.

Friday, Aug. 23: 8-11:30 a.m. Varsity team bonding leave 6 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 25: Varsity team bonding returns 9 a..m.

Monday, Aug. 26: varsity 5:30-8 a.m. and 3:30-6:30 p.m. JV blue and gold 8-10:30 a.m. and 3:30-5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 27: 3:30-6:30 p.m. JV blue and gold, 3:30-5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 28: Varsity 3:30-6:30 p.m. JV blue and gold 3:30-5:30 p.m.


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