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Peak Volleyball Camp Makes Impact In Oakdale
Oakdale Lady Mustang Jill Rowley laces one past the net during the Peak Volleyball Camp at Oakdale High recently. - photo by JAGADA CHAMBERS/THE LEADER
Even when a squad advances to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III Volleyball final there are ways to improve the program and the Oakdale Lady Mustangs turned to one of the nation’s more formidable volleyball camps to take advantage of some tutelage.
The Peak Volleyball Camp made its way to Oakdale High July 6-8 in hopes of fine tuning one of the section’s premiere volleyball programs before the teams sets out to open the 2009 Valley Oak League season.
Peak camps Camp Director and Head Technical Coach Mike Welch, who was head coach of the 1995 US Olympic Festival Team, which included two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Misty May, delivered his insight to the Lady Mustangs in an intense and action-filled three-day experience.
“One of the biggest things we try and do with our camps,” Welch said, “is giving the players something that they can carry forward. There is only so much we can do with training in three days, but we really want them to have a knowledge base on what they can carry forward into the preseason.”
The camp is set to improve the game of every level of volleyball player. Oakdale players at the junior high level as well as returning standouts from the varsity program flocked to the gymnasium to gain knowledge that has assisted players all the way through to Olympic medalist platforms.
The challenge of breaking the learning down for the different levels of talent is something that can be tough, yet the Peak camps are focused on getting each individual player what they need to become better volleyball players.
“It all comes down to the fundamentals first of all,” Welch said. “Even the best players in the world stress their fundamentals on a daily basis. Obviously they are doing a lot more strategy-oriented stuff through continual training.
“Our camp starts off slow and it accelerates as the camp goes on.”
The Lady Mustangs and future Lady Mustangs alike took full advantage of the camp’s direction, hopefully placing the Oakdale High program in a better position than they were after last season’s championship playoff run.
“I think the first day, as all camps are, was a little slow for my varsity girls,” Oakdale head coach Shelli Ponce said. “The second and third day they picked up a lot more and got a lot out of it. Especially when they started doing some specialty hits and doing some work with the setters.”
Coach Ponce, who has had a great deal of success in her own right leading the Lady Mustangs, took in the camp from the bleachers, watching as several of her returning starters listened closely to the teaching of an outside group.
This fact alone could be too steep of a challenge for any other coach, yet Ponce had all the confidence in the world surrendering limited power over Welch and his Peak staff.
“I really didn’t have any problem giving them complete control,” Ponce said. “They had talked to me ahead of time to ask me what kind of offense and defense we run so it can coincide with what they’re teaching.
“They were good about making sure what they taught was incorporated with what we run.”
Welch and his staff did a phenomenal job leaving the Oakdale volleyball community with tools to expand on, but the true task of becoming better players still falls upon each individual Lady Mustang.
“I tell the players all the time ‘the best coach in this gym is you’,” Welch said of the players’ own responsibility. “If you watch the best players in the world they are on themselves and on their games. They don’t put the pressure on the coach and say it’s up to them to make you better.
“The coach is a resource to help them reach their goals.”