Camp is family project

While most people were planning their Fourth of July celebrations, a large group of fifth- through eighth-graders developed their volleyball skills.

The Foothill Volleyball Camp has been a staple in La Cañada for about a dozen years, and it's still going strong.

Tami Aldrich, a former La Cañada High volleyball coach, came up with the idea for the camp. However, when Aldrich couldn't run the camp any longer, a local family that had been involved with the event adopted it as their own.

Warren Weaver helped coach the camp along with his late wife, Mary. His two daughters, Kate and Erin, have also worked at the camp for years.

"I don't know how it became a family affair," Kate Weaver said. "I guess it was just something to do."

Campers are given in-depth tutorials in the four basic skills of volleyball, which include passing, setting, hitting and serving.

"One of the unique things we do is on the first day of camp we introduce all the different skills," Warren Weaver said. "We just go with everything on the first day and work on different drills throughout the week to put all of those skills together."

Along with the Weavers, other coaches at the camp include Ted Grissom, Jennifer Ryan, the former girls' volleyball coach for Crescenta Valley High, and Paul Kim, a local junior high coach. The camp is geared toward beginner and intermediate youth volleyball players.

"The ones who don't know the sport well start out learning all the basic skills," Warren Weaver said. "And we look to improve the game of those who are more experienced."

The system seems to have worked with a number of Foothill Volleyball Camp alums going on to compete at the next level.

"We have a lot of repeat kids who come back every year," Grissom said. "Some have never played before; others come out every year and go on to play for the La Cañada [seventh-eighth-grade team], and at the high school level too."

Catherine Horner and Kristen Oeschel are two such girls. Horner attended the camp for five years. This was her first year giving back as a counselor.

"I always loved the camp, including the teachers and all the helpers," said Horner, who plays for the Spartans and is a junior defensive specialist. "They raised me and taught me how to play volleyball, so I love being able to come back here and return the favor to the younger kids."

The camp not only works for improving the skills of volleyball players, but for converting athletes from other sports.

"The camp changed my whole entire outlook on volleyball," Oeschel said. "When I first came, I loved softball, and volleyball was just a secondary, fill-my-time kind of sport and ended up being my No. 1 priority."

Oeschel is starting her senior year at Chapman University and said the reason for the change of heart was how fun the Weavers made the camp.

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