Volleyball clinics aid players in off-season

Seniors mentor younger players


Lilia Gonzalez

Senior Elsa Bergland jumps above the net to spike the ball Sept. 29, 2021. Park girls’ volleyball is now hosting volleyball clinics in the off-season.

Ivan Zank, Ari Lissauer, and Colin Canaday

Nearly four months after its final match of the 2021-2022 season, girls’ volleyball is hosting clinics to improve the performance of its players, according to head coach Sam Hanlon.

Beyond the athletic benefits, Hanlon said these clinics also provide an avenue for players to get to know each other better, as well as giving an opportunity for younger players to get involved with the sport and team.

“Having the clinics is just going to help us more with how it feels to play next to a player who you might not be super comfortable with or maybe haven’t played with before,” Hanlon said. “It also is going to help our younger kids learn what our style of volleyball is. By the time they get to ninth grade, and want to play on the ninth grade team, then they’re ready. They know exactly what they need.”

Senior Murphy Fries said the lack of comfort and experience with teammates was a primary issue in the previous season.

“It was a little bit difficult for us coming from a lot of us being kind of combined from other teams and then only having like one returning varsity player (last season),” Fries said. “So a lot of us just  really hadn’t bonded yet. Some of the girls on the team, we just hadn’t even met each other.”

According to senior Sophie Chenvert, a key to success as a team is ensuring that all of the players on the team are comfortable and have experience playing with everyone else.  As this is seen on the club level with success, Chenvert said that is the intention of having the clinics.

“That’s the purpose (of the clinics) — get(ting) them to play together. A lot of schools,  all of their club teams, they’re the same throughout all four years. So that’s how they get really good — they all played together, every year for the past four years. The point of the clinics is to get these girls playing together,” Chenvert said.

Because of the dysfunction in the previous season, Fries said the use of clinics is very important, bringing players closer and allowing more personalized, focused training and attention, which is especially important for younger players.

“These clinics — they just kind of bring everybody together. There’s fewer people so it’s more fun to work one-on-one with each other,” Fries said. “There’s also a lot of new, younger girls coming from middle school this year. I know from experience when I was younger, I didn’t come to many of these. If I could give myself a piece of advice to myself in middle school, I would definitely tell myself to come to all of these (clinics) because it’s so great to be able to  bond with the girls.”

Having completed her final season with the high school in the Fall, Chenvert said a big focus for the girls going forward is togetherness.

“I hope they get a better flow of playing together. With the clinics and open gym in the summer, hopefully they can get that together,” Chenvert said. “They actually have a lot of good players this year, so hopefully it’ll turn out well.”

The next girls’ volleyball clinic will be 1-3 p.m. March 12 at Saint Louis Park High School. A full tentative schedule with additional information is available here.