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Local youths hone skills in Parks & Rec. volleyball league
by Damian Tromerhauser
Jun 06, 2012 | 1252 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Damian Tromerhauser - Sparks youths Rylee Spinks, 10, and Alex Carithers, 12, (right) get set to serve up a few aces during a drill Wednesday night.
Tribune photo by Damian Tromerhauser - Sparks youths Rylee Spinks, 10, and Alex Carithers, 12, (right) get set to serve up a few aces during a drill Wednesday night.
The Sparks Parks and Recreation department’s Dig It! volleyball league will wrap up this Saturday with a tournament in which the participating girls, ranging from third grade to eighth, will showcase all they’ve learned during the league.

Aside from having fun, the participants have gained an abundance of knowledge around the game of volleyball.

“I think it’s been great,” said Dennis Young, father of 11-year-old Dig It! participant Taylin. “This is her first year playing volleyball and she’s really progressed. She loves it. She has done gymnastics, softball, basketball and she has actually found a passion with the volleyball. The coaching has been great and the girls that help coach have been great and have been very positive. They’re learning all the basic skills of the game.”

Cheree Spinks, whose daughters Delaney, 13, and Rylee, 10, are a part of the league, echoed the same sentiments.

“It’s about the basics. It’s more fun than competitive and it’s very family oriented. It’s for every age and every skill,” Spinks said. “They definitely learn while they’re here. There’s such a progression from that very first day to this weekend’s tournament. They have learned so much about playing as a team and working and talking together to not let the ball drop. They love it and it keeps them going. These skills helped my oldest one love the sport and make the middle school team. They love it and they don’t want to miss it.”

Part of the reason the kids enjoy Dig It! so much is the fact that they see their progression over the course of the league.

“Last year I only underhand served and now I can get it over the net almost all the time with an overhand serve,” Alex Carithers, 12, said. “That’s the biggest thing that I’ve learned, serving overhand. Now I want to tryout for the middle school team.”

Building those skills and confidence in the girls is part of the reason that Dig It! was started in the first place.

“We started it in the fall of 2010 and basically none of the kids knew anything and there weren’t any programs in this area for this age group,” said Denae Kerns, who heads up Dig It!. “In the four sections we’ve had, there’s been just exponential growth. They’ve gotten so much better. Before it would be toss, hit and fetch, toss, hit and fetch and now they can actually play back and forth.

“Hundreds of girls tryout for the middle school teams and then get cut because none of these girls have ever played before and there’s only so many spots. I thought that was basically a travesty because these girls get demoralized and don’t even tryout again. We just want them to have fun and just get active, not just get off the couch to pull up their skinny jeans.”

While the kids have made sure to leave their skinny jeans at home, they have enjoyed their time on the courts with Dig It! regardless.

“I just like playing volleyball,” Delaney Spinks said. “I want to play for Penn State so I want to get better and I’ve learned how to play the basics of volleyball here. It’s helped a lot and I’ve improved a lot.”

Little sister Rylee shared in the enthusiasm.

“My favorite part of the camp is probably serving or setting because it’s awesome,” Rylee Spinks said. “It would be really fun trying out for the middle school team because my sister made the team.”

With that much eagerness for the game and a growing excitement about volleyball, Kerns is hoping it rubs off on others.

“The kids really enjoy it. They look like they’re really laboring and having a hard time and then I ask if they had fun and they’re like ‘Yeah!’ with gusto,” Kerns said. “Hopefully it can keep building and spreading. There’s all these sand volleyball courts in Sparks and they are always empty. Volleyball is fun and it’s for everyone. People should just go out and play and not worry about being perfect and just have fun.”

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