It’s an idea RDC director of athletics Keith Hansen kicked around for some time.
But it wasn’t until Hansen got together with RDC Be Fit for Life coordinator Barb Marsh that the concept of running a mini-volleyball camp was instituted.
The camp is for boys and girls aged five to 12 and is run by some of the top volleyball coaches in the city, including Hansen, who was on the bench for the RDC Kings during nine of their 10 national championship title runs.
“It was something Barb and I talked about on numerous occasions and to be truthful my kids are that age and once we started kicking it around other volleyball people in the city, especially those with kids that age, jumped on board,” said Hansen.
Queens head coach Talbot Walton, Lindsay Thurber’s Kirsten DeZutter and Kevin Tennant are among the other coaches involved.
“We have high level coaches, who are working with the age category they should be to develop skills, concepts, awareness and having fun,” said Marsh.
“They are utilizing the equipment and balls they should be for their age. It fits with the long-term development model. It’s fun and engaging allowing the kids to progress and to teach their parents at the same time.”
The kids learn the fundamental movement skills as they work on serve receive and serving balloons.
“It’s the right structure,” said Marsh.
“It’s something we should have for all sports.”
Hansen agrees, adding “it doesn’t resemble real volleyball, yet we work on the basic skills such as jumping, catching, rolling, receiving and serving. We want to teach the right techniques so they have that as they go on. We want the kids to have fun as well as learn the sport, so they’ll be better by the time they get to Grade 8 or 9.”
It’s an eight week program, which is divided into two groups. There are 17 kids in the five-eight year-old division and 10 in the nine-12 year-old group. That number will definitely jump for the second session after Christmas.
“We have people asking Keith every day about getting their kids involved,” said Marsh.
They expect between 48 and 55 youngsters to register and they’ll use both RDC gyms.
“We want to be the leaders of the pack in Red Deer and Central Alberta, to get done what’s needed to be done, and the people are buying into that” said Marsh.
“And it’s amazing how far the kids have developed already. Even after the first session you could see the improvement.”
Volleyball isn’t the only sport the pair are looking at.
“We’re looking at badminton. It would be the same age categories with lower nets, bigger birdies and smaller rackets and of course there would be the fun aspect of it. And our hoops program where the Kings and Queens, led by Joel Carroll, are involved are doing the same. We want to be leaders in bringing this to every sport where we can continue through the summer, fall and winter.”
They have talked about girls’ lacrosse and soccer as well as other sports.
“We want to make sure we’re working with the associations so we’re on the same page,” added Marsh. “We’ve talked with minor lacrosse about girls’ lacrosse as they look to build numbers.
The program, which costs $100, is run on Sunday for 75 minutes.
“It’s the perfect amount of time,” said Hansen.
“I know my youngest daughter is asking every day about it. By running it once a week the kids are excited about coming out. The whole idea is to turn them on and have some fun. I believe it’s great for the kids to play four different sports one hour a day in a week, rather than one sport for four or five times a week.”
• The RDC basketball teams are home this weekend as they host Medicine Hat for a twin bill. The women tip off at 6 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday with the men to follow.
The 8-0 Kings go into the weekend ranked second in Canada. Medicine Hat is at 5-3 while the Queens are 5-3 with Medicine Hat 6-2.
• The undefeated volleyball teams are on the road at Lakeland College Friday and Saturday.
The Kings are the No. 1 ranked team in Canada while the Queens moved up to fourth.
• The hockey Kings face the University of Alberta, Augustana Vikings in a home-and-home series — Friday in Camrose and Saturday at 7:15 p.m. at the Penhold Regional Multiplex.
The Kings are first in the ACAC with a 12-4 record while the Vikings, 9-3-0-3, are tied for third.
• The hockey Queens, 4-3, host NAIT Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Arena and meet Friday at NAIT. The Queens are two points back of NAIT for second place and three behind first-place Grant MacEwan.
• Hockey Kings Riley Simpson and curling’s Julie Primrose shared the Boston Pizza RDC athlete of the week awards.
Simpson played a major role in the Kings two-game sweep of Portage last weekend while Primrose, who moved up to third from second on the ladies’ team this year, was a leader of the team posting a 2-2 record in their first ‘spiel of the season.
Basketball Kings fifth-year point guard Lloyd Strickland was also in the running for the men’s award.
The volleyball Kings received the Breathing Room team of the week award.