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'Dig It' league, camp introducing more girls to volleyball
by Dan Eckles
Jul 11, 2013 | 1710 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Elise Gustavson gets under the volleyball for a pass during the 'Dig It' teen volleyball camp at Alf Sorensen Community Center Thursday.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Elise Gustavson gets under the volleyball for a pass during the 'Dig It' teen volleyball camp at Alf Sorensen Community Center Thursday.
Denae Kerns had an epiphany a few years back. The 1996 Sparks High graduate, and later a Kent State University graduate, talked to city Recreation Coordinator Tony Pehle and told him Sparks Parks and Rec. should offer a youth volleyball league.

He answered with something to the effect of, "you should run it." That conversation was four years ago. Eventually, the two got together and made it happen. Now in the spring and fall, the Sparks Parks and Recreation Department hosts its 'Dig It' volleyball league for girls in third through eighth grade.

"We needed an introductory league," Kerns said. "When I got to high school, I had never played volleyball before. The district has added middle school volleyball since, but even so, most girls haven't played before that.

"There is club volleyball, but that's a big commitment in time and money. These girls needed a place to play where they could get introduced to the sport and find out of they even like it."

Kerns is the league's coordinator. In addition, she also hosts camps during school breaks and the summer. This week, Kerns, again through Sparks Parks and Rec. has hosted a 'Dig It' teen summer camp.

"We work on all the skills — passing, hitting and serving," she said. "We've played a lot of games as well so the girls can work on their serve-receive and game situations. With small groups in camp, you can get the girls a lot of touches."

The camp, which was hosted at the Alf Sorensen Community Center in east Sparks, started Monday and ran through Thursday. It featured a three-hour session each day. Kerns added that all but two of the girls in this week's camp had participated in last spring's 'Dig It' league, which made teaching at the camp and introducing new schemes all the easier.

"It's been so much fun all week," she said. "The girls have picked things up really quickly. With their experience, we didn't have to start back at Square 1. It's amazing how much better you can get in just four days, playing for three hours a day."

Some of the campers echoed her sentiments.

"I signed up for the camp because I love volleyball," said 13-year-old Elise Gustavson, who will be an eighth grader at Shaw Middle School. "I've been playing for two years. All the games we've been playing this week have been fun. My jump serve and passing has all been getting better."

Katie Kacyzinski, 14, will be a freshman at Reed in the fall. She enjoyed the week-long camp too.

"I got into this camp because I wanted to get the extra practice in before tryouts next month," she said. "Coach Kerns really helps us with everything. I've gotten better and I really like this group of girls. We've all helped each other out."

Kerns pointed out that the 'Dig It' league will also be starting up a faction in Reno this fall. She is planning a jamboree day where the Sparks and Reno 'Dig It' programs can compete against each other. Additionally, Kerns is planning a 'Dig It' fall camp, which will be held during the Washoe County School District's new fall break in mid-October.

For more information, follow the Sparks Parks and Recreation Department's web site.
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