The Ellison Lady Eagles Volleyball Camp has over 100 campers attending the annual summer camp this week.
In the mornings, those entering second to seventh grades can learn the fundamentals of the game.
Following a quick lunch break for the current Ellison volleyball players who help teach and run the drills, the afternoon session is open to incoming eighth- and ninth-graders.
“We used to put second through eighth grade together,” said Lady Eagles head coach Sarah Stolley. “But there was such a learning gap.
“Besides, the eighth-graders are more on the same level as the ninth-graders.”
Stolley started the camp four years ago and has seen it continue to grow. This year, 128 girls are participating.
“I can tell that they all love the game,” said Jakarta Hope, a senior volleyball player at Ellison. “So I can see there’s a promising future for volleyball in the Killeen area.”
Those who attended Tuesday learned the proper footwork for passing and setting.
While the focus of the camp is to improve upon the campers’ skills, Stolley also focuses on the team aspect of the sport with “ice-breaker” games and partner drills.
Situational drills also allow those campers looking to pursue volleyball in high school a glimpse of what playing for Ellison is like and help them get comfortable with being vocal on the court.
Jadyn Wilgus, a seventh-grader at Liberty Hill Middle School, returned this year for another summer of Lady Eagles’ volleyball camp.
“It improves my skills,” Wilgus said of why she returns every summer. “And it prepares me to play in high school because the net is regulation height.”
With dreams of playing volleyball at the collegiate level, she also believes spending her summers at the camp will contribute to reaching that goal.
“And most of my family went to Ellison, so it’s where I’m going to go, too, for high school,” Wilgus added.
The camp ends today and tryouts for the 2018 season will be held Aug. 1-3.
In past years, Stolley has held the camp earlier in the summer but this year she opted for a later week due to the change in the District 12-6A season.
The addition of Temple and Waco to the district created a nine-team league that kicks off six days before the school year officially begins on Aug. 27.
“It came so fast,” Hope noted.
There’s another benefit of the camp being held right before the start of the new school year, especially for the incoming freshmen.
“When you’re first coming into high school, the first thing you want to do is make friends,” Hope said. “And now they’ll already have a set of friends in volleyball because they all have a common love for the sport.”