No coach, no worries
Even without a coach for the fall season, many Baldwin High School volleyball players are taking part in a summer camp this week.
Former BHS coach Jill Brown and her daughter, Emily Brown, a 2004 BHS graduate, stepped up to host a camp for the Bulldogs.
The reason was simple for the pair that helped take BHS to the state tournament in 2003.
"I knew they didn't have a coach yet," Jill Brown said. "I had talked to Gary (Stevanus, activities director) and told him that Emily said if there was no coach still, she would be happy to come back and do a camp. We just wanted the girls to at least have a week, where they could work out and encourage them to stay interested in volleyball."
But when the camp started Monday afternoon, Emily wasn't there. She came down with an illness last week that has kept her home. The University of Kansas volleyball player has been missed at the camp by her younger sister, BHS freshman Taylor Brown.
"Yeah, Emily would make the camp a lot of fun, because she likes to mess around and make it fun for everybody," Taylor Brown said.
Taylor went on to say she still enjoys her mother's coaching.
"Yeah, because I can joke around with her," Taylor Brown said. "She does know a lot about volleyball, so it does help."
The loss of Emily didn't stop Jill from still hosting the camp for the Bulldog players. Instead of her daughter's help, she called on her sister, Jo Huntsinger, and another former BHS player, Kelsey Heckathorne.
Huntsinger played volleyball at KU and has also coached the sport for many years. Heckathorne, a 2005 BHS graduate, played four years at BHS and will play for Baker University in the fall.
The replacements for Emily have made Jill very happy, and she even hopes her daughter can come to the camp today or Friday.
"My sister is helping and I appreciate her coming in and helping," Jill Brown said. "Kelsey had heard about Emily and called and I asked her to help. Jo and I have played and coached for years, but you need some young, fresh legs out there. It's nice to have Kelsey demonstrate things. It's worked out really well. But I do wish Emily can be here and I am hoping by the end of the week, she can be here."
On Monday afternoon, the camp began with nearly 20 BHS players. The number was a few less than Jill Brown was hoping for, but she likes the turnout anyway.
"I thought there would be more, but this is a good group," Jill Brown said. "What's fun is they are kids I have had since grade school, when I held a grade school camp here. We have a really good group. It's a very manageable group. They all want to be here and are interested in volleyball, so it's been a lot of fun."
The first day of camp was spent finding out what skills the players had and how they could improve those. Tuesday was then spent improving their skills and stretching their talents.
"On the first day, because I haven't coached for a couple of years, I needed to see where they were to see what we could do," Jill Brown said. "I came in with a lot of ideas, but didn't know what we could do. We kind of ran through every basic skill and they did really well.
"So today (Tuesday) we came in and did some target serving, since I knew they could serve," she said. "We also worked on some different hits."
Taylor Brown was glad there was a camp this summer, because she has learned several skills she will need for the fall season.
"It's fun to have a camp and be able to play this summer," Taylor Brown said. "We are learning a lot of transitions and the correct posture when you pass."
One of the main focuses of the volleyball camp is to improve fundamentals, which is what Jill Brown loves to teach to young players.
"I am pretty much a fundamental person," Jill Brown said. "I love fundamentals and could work on those all day. That is not the fun part for the kids."
Before the camp, Jill and Emily sat down to discuss what they would have the girls do at camp. Emily made a suggestion that her mother thought was very good.
"Emily and I had talked about this and thought maybe we needed to do more team things," Jill Brown said. "I am not a big scrimmage fan, but we need to do a modified scrimmage. We thought they needed a lot of team things, like things you can't even practice, but that happen in a game."
Jill spoke to the players about being a team and also about the upcoming season.
"I told them not to worry, because they will have a coach and a team, just keep working hard," Jill Brown said. "If we didn't do this, we were sure there wasn't going to be anything this summer."
Even though the BHS team is without a coach, Jill likes the way the team looks during camp.
"They are a group that has played before," she said. "I feel like they are excited about it, willing to learn and willing to try things that we are having them do. They have been absolutely great."