POULSBO — Toria Messinger was the first player to arrive in the gym for Viking Volleyball Camp on Monday morning. She wasn’t required to attend the early morning session, but was giving a novice player pointers on the finer aspects of the games before athletes from the camp’s first session began trickling into North Kitsap High School.
The sophomore wasn’t afraid to offer expertise to the younger players around her. She’s played the sport since she was in the third grade.
“The younger kids have great attitudes,” Messinger said. “They’re fun to work with. Volleyball is an awesome game. I am just here to have fun. It’s really a blast.”
North Kitsap High School volleyball coach Tim French had initially expected 40 players to participate at camp between the first session (third through eighth graders) and second session (ninth through 12th graders), but was pleasantly surprised to see nearly 55 players in volleyball garb Monday. French said 30 players were enrolled in the first session.
“The more, the better. It’s the only fund raiser of the year for the program,” French said. “All of the funds received from the camp feeds right back into it.”
He said he enjoys seeing players get a jump start on their fall seasons by playing as much as they can during the summer. This camp gives them that opportunity.
“It’s good for players to have a time in the summer to concentrate on volleyball,” he said. “It’s exciting time for them this week.”
It’s also a great introduction to the game, French added.
“For those girls who haven’t played before, to see their eyes light up and know that they get it gives us coaches a good feeling,” he said. “They have a lot of enthusiasm and spirit — You can tell they’re having fun.”
As for high school aged competitors, French said the camp gives experienced volleyball players a valuable opportunity to refine their skills.
“The girls who are experienced can improve upon the skills they already have,” he said. “Even more importantly, they can learn new skills on top of that.”
Vikings junior outside hitter Lindsay Kocker couldn’t wait to help coach her younger counterparts on the first day of camp. She believes sharing her knowledge of the sport will not only help out younger players, but will help her own game as well.
“The best way to learn is to teach,” she said. “I am really excited about helping the younger kids this week. It will give me more experience on the court, too.”
Eighth grader Alexis Webb is one of those players participating in the first volleyball camp of her life this week.
“I want to try out (for volleyball) in the fall,” she said. “I have been practicing at home with my mom. It’s a fun sport.”
Fellow eighth grader Julia Hoak has been eyeing Viking Volleyball Camp from afar ever since school ended in mid-June.
“I was excited to see all of my friends again and catch up,” she said. “The thing I like most about volleyball is that you really play as a team. After every point, you get to start over again. You don’t have to worry about the last mistake you made because you have to move on to the next point.”
Parent Lesley Kunold enrolled her daughter, Megan, in Viking Volleyball Camp because she wanted to get her involved in a sport for the first time.
“I wanted to have my daughter introduced to a sport. She is finally old enough now,” Kunold said. “This is the first time she’s ever played a sport.”