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Valley players learn volleyball basics

June 20, 2001|By TIM YANNI, Sports Writer

IMPERIAL — Imperial Valley volleyball players have been given a treat again this summer as Imperial High School has hosted Cal Poly San Luis Obispo coach Steve Schlick and his Cal Poly girls volleyball camp.

Jill Tucker heads the program on the Imperial end and encourages girls to attend.

Tucker, volleyball and women's basketball coach at Imperial Valley College, spent two years each coaching Imperial and Calipatria high schools.

She said one of her favorite aspects of a camp like the one sponsored by Cal Poly is watching girls improve year to year.

"It's exciting to have a Division I coach come out and work with you," Tucker said. "(The girls) get a lot of instruction in a short period of time."

The camp is a three-day affair, with six hours each day in the clinic.

Still, Tucker said she is unhappy with the turnout this year.

"I'm really disappointed that more local volleyball players don't take advantage of it," Tucker said.

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One advantage to the small group, though, is girls get more one-on-one attention.

"They get a lot of touches on the ball," she said, adding such individual instruction is priceless.

She said for the most part the girls enjoy the camp and some come several years in a row.

"They wouldn't keep coming back if it wasn't beneficial." Tucker said.

Tucker said she likes volleyball because of its fast-paced action and the abundance of competition.

"It's full of action," Tucker said.

She added while it is not always obvious, volleyball has offensive and defensive plays and strategies that make it interesting.

She said attending the camp tends to spur girls' interest.

"By coming here and getting basic fundamentals, it gets them hooked on to the game," she said.

She added developing a strong interest in the sport is half the battle of becoming good at it.

Melissa Keaton is a camp veteran.

The 17-year-old Imperial resident is attending for the fourth year in a row.

"You get to learn how to fix your mistakes," Keaton said, explaining why she attends year after year.

She said she improves a lot by attending the camp and it helps her become motivated for the high school volleyball season.

She feels better about her abilities because of the camp and it helps her as a team leader.

"I can teach other people," she said in explaining one of her advantages over a girl who does not attend such a camp.

Keaton played several sports, but in the end volleyball became her sport of choice.

When asked why, she replied, "I just like volleyball the best. It's awesome."

Schlick, a fifth-year coach at Cal Poly, is thankful to Tucker for pulling the local program together all these years.

He said he always finds good players when his camp hits Imperial and he enjoys coming here.

"We always have some good people attend," Schlick said. "Even with the smaller group, there have been some really good players."

Whenever he stages a camp, which he does with assistant coaches and some of his players, he notices improvement in the students.

"There's always progression," he said, adding repetition is what really makes a better volleyball player.

"I'm hoping that they feel good about their experience," Schlick said. "It's a positive thing for us.

"We're glad there's air conditioning," he said with a chuckle.

He said Cal Poly has several camps throughout the summer and Imperial is the farthest the group from San Luis Obispo travels.

Schlick has been a volleyball coach for 21 years, including at the junior high and high school levels.

He has coached at Arizona State University, the University of Notre Dame, from which he earned a master's degree, and Cal Poly.

"It's a great sport," he said of volleyball. "It gives you the opportunity to meet some great people.

He said while he never intended on becoming involved in volleyball, he is blessed to have been able to work as a coach.

"Sometimes good things happen," Schlick said.

The camp concludes today in the Imperial High gymnasium.

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