Perry Middle School volleyball preps for next level
It’s been a common sentiment over the past couple of years that Perry sports will rise with more involvement at the youth level, preparing future Bluejays and Jayettes before they walk through the high school doors. That activism was shown to the public Saturday as 32 Perry 6-8 grade students played against fellow AAU and rec league teams from Ogden and Greene County. Perry also has one team of students from Panora.
In total, Perry has four teams compared to just one last season. Managing that growth is high school assistant coach Katelyn Whelchel who began coaching the offseason middle school program last season. While official results and stats were not logged, Perry's biggest focus was to get the teams as much experience as possible. Originally slated to play until 11, the Jayettes kept going until after 12 p.m. with Ogden.
Whelchel said one of the biggest focuses at this level is to simply develop muscle memory and a greater mental understanding of patterns in-game to avoid the pitfalls like low or high serves, or watching balls land in or out of bounds.
"It's one of those things that just comes with time. It really takes a lot of practice to get them to understand how their body moves, being able to see the ball, feel it and understand what a good hitter feels like," Whelchel said.
She added that one of the core principles during practice has been developing better passing connections.
"Good volleyball teams have to have great passing skills. It's a super crucial part of the game," Whelchel said. "So we're really trying to work on those fundamentals and getting the girls some really good experience so by the time they get back to us at the high school, we're good to go on serve-receive."
One other big emphasis has been the girls' overall relationship and mentality, things which Whelchel said the high school team took steps back in this previous season. Throughout the day of games, Perry's teams were not only encouraged and coached on mechanics while using the high school's terminology and schemes but also were sure to pat each other on the back and celebrate as a team in-sync.
Team-building has also been a priority this offseason for the high school team for both Whelchel and varsity head coach John Fulton who stopped in to watch his incoming freshman class.
Perry's middle school teams have another tournament March 14 and will continue through the end of March.