From the originally planned two sessions, organizers of the first annual Dawson Creek Christmas Volleyball skills camp needed to add a third afternoon session on Saturday to accommodate all the interest.
In all, 62 athletes packed the gym at the Dawson Creek Secondary School south campus over the course of three sessions to hone their volleyball craft from local Beaverlodge product Gina Schmidt, who coaches women’s volleyball at Simon Fraser University.
During a brief break between the morning and afternoon workouts, Schmidt said it was awesome to see the community of Dawson Creek come out and support local volleyball.
“I wasn’t sure what kid of numbers we would get, so it’s far exceeded what I expected so that’s great. Especially at this time of year. It’s the break— kids are out of school, they are thinking about Christmas. So, yeah I was definitely surprised with the turnout but really happy,” she said.
One of the key organizers Ashley Fox, who along with her husband Trevor, Adel and Tyler Morhart were able to convince Schmidt to come up for the camp.
Fox explained having a coach of Schmidt’s cailbre is huge for volleyball in Dawson Creek.
“It’s incredible. It truly is. Over the last few years in Dawson we have been trying to get a volleyball program really off the ground. There are certain camps that the athletes can go to in the summer that take them away from the community. They have to go up to Fort St. John, down to Grande Prairie or Edmonton or down to Kamloops,” Fox said.
“The ability to actually get a university Cailbre coach into our local Dawson Creek community is unprecedented. Especially a university coach— she’s local. She’s from Beaverlodge and she used to be part of the national team. It’s not only the calibre for the athletes to look up to, but also for them to see— this girl is local she is from the community— they could eventually progress to become a cailbre athlete like her.”
Schmidt put the athletes to the test in a variety of volleyball skills, including serving, passing, setting, spiking and blocking. She said spending a little bit of time on each skill is important, and her hope was that each athlete will take away one or two simple lessons from the weekend.
“It’s tough— with just a short amount of time— it takes hours and hours of practice to actually change somebody’s technique. I could have spent five hours on just passing or just serving,” Schmidt said.
“To me it was about covering all the fundamental skills and if they can come away with just one or two cues for each skill that they can take back to their school teams or their club teams to work on, then I’m happy with what’s gone on.”
At the end of the day seeing all the interest that they collected on relatively short notice, Fox is optimistic they will be able to hold camps like this weekends on a yearly basis.
“This would be phenomenal to do again… we’ve already put plans in place to help develop the program for next year and hopefully open it up to grade six students,” she said.