Camp feeds IHS volleyball culture

Published 4:10 pm Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Volleyball is a way of life for many girls at Isabella, and one of the reasons why is the annual volleyball camp that the school hosts each summer.

The camp allows players to interact and receive advice from coaches at the college level.

This year’s camp was held July 23-24 with University of West Alabama head coach Alexis Meeks and assistant coach Robert Chilcoat helping oversee the camp along with aid from former UWA player Briana Sandifer.

“When he [Isabella head coach Glen Graham] first contacted me and said he was going to have around 60 kids for a 1A school, my mind was shocked,” Meeks said. “These numbers are comparable to the amount of kids that we get at our all-skills camp, which we invite from around the state to come.”

It was the first time West Alabama had taken part in the camp. They join Auburn, Middle Tennessee and Jacksonville State as some of the college programs that have sent representation over the years.

One of the positives from the summer camp is opportunity for the girls to hear different perspectives on how to approach the game.

According to Meeks, it could be the same things being taught but just phrased differently that can sometimes make it click in the minds of certain players.

Passing was one of the aspects of the game that was emphasized during the camp. (Photo by Anthony Richards)

“That’s why we like doing camps, because you can connect to one kid and make a little difference,” Meeks said. “We like doing satellite camps, because it gives that one-on-one attention.”

Graham acknowledged that there are always things to be taken away from such camps, but they can prove to be even more beneficial in the years that follow a large graduating class.

“We graduated a big class last year, so I’ve got a lot of new faces in the program,” Graham said. “I like to expose them to as many different colleges as I can during their careers.”

The timing of the camp is strategically placed toward the end of the summer break.

“A week after next, we’ll start our mandatory practices,” Graham said. “This gives them a good chance of everybody bonding closer together during these two days in the gym.”

In recent years, the camp has served as the opening stanza that has helped set the early tone for the season and an eventual deep playoff run.

“I think it’s so important that coaches retain their years,” Meeks said. “Him being here for 21 years shows that he is dedicated to it.”

The consistency within the program is something special regardless of whether it is at the high school or college levels.

“What he has is what every coach aspires to have in a program at some point,” Meeks said.