Healthy Hawk helpful
Emily Brown was able to attend her volleyball camp this year and participate all week.
Last summer, the 2004 Baldwin High School graduate was in bed with an awful case of the flu during the camp. Her mother and former BHS volleyball coach, Jill Brown, held the camp without her daughter. E. Brown did show up on the final day last year, but only to watch and talk to the campers.
She was happy to be working the camp this year with her University of Kansas teammate Natalie Uhart.
"Last year, we tried to do a camp and it did not go well," E. Brown said. "When I came in, some of the girls asked if they were going to have to pull me around on the blanket again. I was totally healthy this time."
BHS sophomore-to-be Katie Brecheisen was one of the 21 girls at camp last week. She attended both camps and was glad to see E. Brown back this year, although she enjoyed her mother last summer.
"I went last year and I felt really bad for Emily," Brecheisen said. "She was really sick. Jill did a great job. She is really fun to be around, also. Emily taught us more new things that Jill didn't really know, which did help a lot, but both years were fun."
Several of the BHS players are friends with Brown's younger sister and BHS sophomore-to-be Taylor Brown. They were excited to learn from their friend's older sister, who had a successful career as a Bulldog and will finish her career as a Jayhawk this fall.
"We are old friends," BHS sophomore-to-be Connor Twombly said of her and T. Brown. "Emily and Natalie were a lot of fun."
Brecheisen was thrilled to be learning from E. Brown, but also noticed similarities between the two sisters.
"Emily is a great volleyball player," Brecheisen said. "She is also a really fun person to be around. Her going to high school in Baldwin just makes it all better, because a lot of people know who she is and how great of an athlete she is.
"Taylor is a lot like Emily in the way she plays out on the court," Brecheisen said. "She is always encouraging you to go for any ball. They are both really fun to play with and be around."
J. Brown told her oldest daughter that the girls would be really fun to work with this year, but E. Brown wasn't sure because her mom says that about every group of players.
After working with the 21 girls for two hours a day for five days, E. Brown had to agree with her mother after all.
"They were so fun and so great," E. Brown said. "My mom used to coach here and she would always say they were such a good group of girls, so when we decided to do a camp here, she said 'you're going to love this group of girls.' I was like 'Sure mom. You always say that every year.' But it was so true this year. They were really willing to learn and willing to try new things."
E. Brown and Uhart worked with the campers for two hours each day on basic volleyball skills and drills. Instead of instructing the same fundamentals that the girls already know, the two camp leaders tried to add in some variety this year.
"We did some new drills and new hits to work on," E. Brown said. "We just tried to give them a new perspective on volleyball, instead of the same old thing."
Early in the week they worked on passing and setting, before moving on to defense and blocking during the middle of the week. Friday was all about hitting, which the campers loved, according to E. Brown.
They also held several competitions Friday, including a fast-paced scrimmage to end the camp.
"Today's main focus was just to play and do competitive drills," she said Friday. "We just wanted to get that competitive edge in the girls going. It was Friday fun day."
Twombly said Friday's instruction will help the players during the fall season, because they learned some new skills.
"We learned some different hits," Twombly said. "It's something we can definitely use during the season."
Brecheisen also left camp with some new knowledge of the game, thanks to E. Brown and Uhart.
"I learned quite a bit, really," Brecheisen said. "We did work on a lot of things that we all knew, but so many new things, also. We worked on different kinds of hitting and setting and even different ways to pass the ball. It helped me a bunch."
E. Brown even said Uhart brought a different perspective to some of the drills, because of her playing days at another university.
"We did camps in high school, but it's nice to add the stuff I've learned in college. Natalie was at Long Beach State for three years, so she has even more new things to bring to camp. Some of the stuff she was saying, I had never heard before. She brought a lot of volleyball knowledge to camp this year."
The campers were sad to end the week-long fun on Friday, because they enjoyed learning from a talented BHS alumna.
"I had a blast," Brecheisen said. "Emily made it super fun. She is so funny and she just makes you really try hard because you hate to disappoint her. She is really enthusiastic about everything and that just makes it a better atmosphere to be around."