Scoring volleyball with children

Sunday, February 1, 2004

For Southeast Missouri State University volleyball players, Saturday was back to basics: calling the ball, spiking, hitting, passing and service.

The main service was to the community, as 62 youths came to the Osage Community Centre for lessons on volleyball fundamentals from Otahkian assistant coaches Julie Brandmeyer and Renata Nowacki, along with seven players from the team. The clinic, sponsored by the Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation Department, has been an annual event since at least 1995.

The coaches and players hoped to show these 7- to 13-year-olds how much fun the sport is and to motivate them to come to the games.

Eight-year-old Hannah Wiggs of Cape Girardeau was game for both. She has been collecting autographs of the Otahkians since she was about 3.

"I get it signed every year by the Otahkians because I like what they write," Hannah said of her autograph book. She attends every Otahkian game at Houck Stadium and wants to play on the team in college.

Sherri Wissehr of Zalma, Mo., signed up her 10-year-old niece, Taylor Whitehead. But Taylor was admittedly a little nervous. She had never attended a clinic like Saturday's. But her cousin, Jesse Smith, said it was important to Taylor.

"She really likes volleyball," Smith said. "She came here even though she knew she'd be late for cheerleading."

With the exception of one year, Debbie Schumer of Cape Girardeau has had a child at the clinic every time it's been held. This year it was 8-year-old Morgan's turn, Schumer said.

"Over the years the clinic has been my kids' first experience with volleyball other than yard ball. It's good, positive exposure."

Twins Emily and Erica Davis of Jackson, along with their friend, Bailey Clubb of Cape Girardeau, said they learned some important lessons at the clinic.

"It's all fun, and you don't have to get trophies," Emily said. "Just relax."

335-6611, extension 133

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