With every serve that ends up in the net, every set that doesn’t quite hit its mark and every ball that lands on the court before a dig can be made, Danielle Ryan can relate.
It’s learning from their mistakes, improving their skills and maintaining a positive attitude that are just some of the lessons learned by young players at Real's Youth Volleyball Camps at Burroughs High.
And there was a time, not too many years ago, when Ryan was in those players’ shoes, trying to hone her skills and set the groundwork for a success volleyball career.
“I remember coming to this exact camp when I was, I think, going into the eighth grade, “ said Ryan, a 2016 graduate and a former All-Area and All-CIF Southern Section selection and Pacific League Player of the Year who is a junior playing at San Francisco State. “I remember trying to learn all that I could because I wanted to get better.
“Coming back is so great to me because I look at these players and I think that was me just a few years ago. Getting older, it seems like so long ago, but it’s great to come back and help them out.”
Ryan is one of a group of former Burroughs players who return each summer to assist as coaches with a series of camps. The camps are run by longtime Indians girls’ coach Edwin Real, who piloted the program to two league titles in the past three seasons.
Also assisting at some of the camps is Burroughs boys’ coach Joel Brinton, whose teams have enjoyed a wealth of success in league as well as in CIF.
“It’s great to see how excited the kids are each day and they are pretty energetic,” said Caitlin Cottrell, who garnered All-CIF and All-Area accolades before graduating in 2012. “They really want to learn and they listen to what we’re teaching them. We try and teach them as much as we can here, but we also encourage them to go home and practice so they can get better.
“I came to all of Real’s camps when I was younger and I think that really helped me to improve as a player. He has taught me a lot and I have learned a lot from him as a coach, so I try and do the same when I’m teaching kids here.”
Campers start each day with stretching before warmups. The campers were then broken up into two groups according to ability and spent a large portion of the camp working on basics. The groups also took part in simulated games.
The athletes learned various fundamentals, including passing, footwork, serving and hitting. In addition, offensive and defensive formations were taught, including serve-receive, blocking and digging.
“I really wanted to get better at serving overhand because I know that’s the better way to serve. I’ve been doing pretty good with that right now,” said Kaylie Shigematsu, 11, of Burbank. “This is my first year coming to this camp and I really like it. It’s really fun because the coaches make it fun and, at the same time, they make us try different things for us to get better. I made a lot of friends here and basically everyone here is my friend now … I want to maybe play in high school and I hope this will make me better.”
Said Sophia Dimopoulos, 11, of Burbank: “After I have gone to camp, I might be at home and when I get bored playing video games, I sometimes just go outside and practice all the things they have taught us here. I have a small front yard so I just try and bump the ball around so I can get better.
“I also go and play with my sister and we serve the ball to each other. But we can’t dive at our house like we do here.”
The last installment of this summer's camp will take place Aug. 6-9 and will focus on general skills.