In this file photo Kaitlyn DeLauter of North Union leaps to block a hit during a Central Buckeye Conference game. DeLauter was one the Lady Cats that graduated from North Union district title winning team. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
With the high school volleyball season 34 days away the North Union Lady Cats are getting in some early practice to help them prepare for the future of the program and another successful year on the court.
The Lady Cats will be holding three camps, youth camp (4th-6th grades), middle school camp (7th-8th grades) and a high school camp in the coming weeks.
North Union volleyball coach Alexis Maenz said getting the younger kids into the program is a vital step in building a strong program.
“We have seen the game grow and become more competitive at a younger age level, so we want to prepare our kids as much as possible so they find themselves able to rise to the challenge and compete at a high level as they continue to get older,” Maenz said.
The NU coach said the younger kids will learn the basics on how to play the game of volleyball while working on mental and physical toughness. Through the work they will learn how to be a good teammate and build a love of the game, she added.
“I hope that it provides an opportunity for the young kids to learn the game and get excited about playing volleyball,” Maenz said.
The camp is the second for Maenz, who is entering her second season at the helm of the Lady Cats’ program. Last year, North Union hosted a middle school camp that only saw about 20 kids participate. Maenz blames COVID for the light attendance, but hopes this year the program will expand with the addition of the youth camp.
“I am excited to expand and host a camp for those entering 4th -6th grade this year, and hope to have the same type of numbers if not more for the youth camp,” she added.
To help with the youth campers, Maenz is employing her high school team as instructors. Though this will be done out of necessity, Maenz hopes the high school girls can learn some leadership from the experience.
“It gives my high school athletes the chance to grow as leaders and recognize the importance of service and giving back to their community,” Maenz said.
This will lead the high school girls right into their own camp where Maenz hopes they can bring together the mental and physical aspects of the game.
“We have a great group of girls that are talented and invested and have shown that throughout the spring and summer, so having this camp before the season allows us to bring the physical and mental aspects of the game together,” she said.
The Lady Cats are coming off a historic season last year winning their first district title and a regional semifinals appearance. In the three years they have been in the Central Buckeye Conference have also shown consistency winning two conference titles. Maenz believes this group has shown a lot of potential, but this camp will help bring everything together for the Cats.
“I’m extremely excited for the potential that this young group is showing,” Maenz said.
The Lady Cats have lost some key players from last season to graduation. Maenz said she would be using the camp as a way to get an early look at her new players.
“It gives me a glimpse into the different roles each athlete will be able to play and a sense of who has been preparing and is willing to step up as leaders for this team,” she added.
And with a lot of youth on this season’s team Maenz hopes that all of the camps can help improve the future of volleyball at North Union.
“This year will be crucial in terms of developing a program that not only fosters amazing young women, but also one that consistently strives for greatness,” Maenz said.
The youth and middle school camps will be run July 26-28. The high School camp will start July 28 and end July 30.