BURBANK — Participants of Burroughs High girls’ volleyball head coach Edwin Real’s Youth Volleyball Camps scurried toward the bleachers to pick up balls as they prepared to partake in a serving drill.
On the third day of the camp’s second session, the camp-goers were ready to put their skills to the test for coveted prizes after two days of learning the fundamentals of volleyball at Burroughs.
This particular session saw 40 athletes, age 8-14, partake in the four-day event. After two days of skill instructions, the participants got a chance to put what they learned and got the opportunity to play alongside camp coaches.
“The big takeaway is that kids are learning the sport and liking the sport just starting at a young age,” Real said. “The main goal for the camp is, one, we’re going to learn how to play volleyball and the basic skills, but the other part is you have to have fun. If you’re not having fun, then you’re not going to want to come back. Kids enjoy the sport because they’re having fun.”
Camp coaches, comprised of current varsity players as well as former Burroughs standouts, helped out the group of kids, who were split into four groups. Two groups occupied the main gym and two of the younger groups played the small gym.
“A lot of these kids come back year after year,” said camp counselor Sabrina Sullivan, a 2018 Burroughs graduate. “We do multiple sessions each summer and you can just tell that they’re getting better and that they’re really happy to be here spending time with their friends.”
Sullivan, who first attended the camp when she was 8 years old and has been a counselor since she was a sophomore, helped orchestrate the activities in the main gym alongside five other counselors. Twelve counselors oversaw exercises that included outside hitting, net defense, three-on-three simulations and serving, where athletes won prizes if they hit specific targets.
With a nice serve, Real rewarded the serving player not just with a double-high-five, but a camp T-shirt as well.
“We’re very flexible,” Real said. “We have our set plan and we have to cover these skills, so we have our skills that we cover as an outline. I give the counselors the outline the day before and they see it and say, ‘Okay, I think I’ll be able to do this.’
“The people that are working it have been to these camps and they remember some of the things that they did. It’s not all things that I make up. It’s things that they enjoy. It’s a lot of input.”
In the small gym where the nets accommodate the younger athletes’ heights, a speaker blasts music from Disney classics such as “Frozen” and “Moana.”
Caiden Shrode, 12, participated in his third camp and has seen improvement in his abilities since the first day. He hopes to continue to play volleyball, hopefully for the Indians.
“I really like when we break out to play the games and I can work on my skills more,” Shrode said. “I really like setting because I guess I’m pretty good at that. I also like serving.”
As the day camp came to a close, Sullivan gathered the big gym group to have the participants cheer, “volleyball.”
“There are two girls here that have been coming to the camps for years and now their oldest sister, who also came to the camps, is on the junior varsity team,” Sullivan said. “It’s a cool accomplishment to see how much she’s grown over the years with all of the stuff we’ve taught her and she’s learned. That’s cool to see and I have high hopes for the rest of them.”