By Raymundo Frasquillo
MORENCI – Forty-two Morenci students, 20 high school and 22 middle school, attended the four-day Gold Medal Squared volleyball fundamentals camp in Wildcat Memorial Gymnasium June 12-15. Five area coaches also attended.
The advantage was obvious.
“If we went somewhere else for a camp, we could only take 12 at the most because of transportation and housing,” second-year MHS head coach Rhyanna Mennen said. “This way, we were able to involve more students.”
“We learned a lot, were able to reach younger girls and get them some early training. The information and drills were presented to their skill level. It was a refresher for the older players . . . There were major improvements from day one to day four. The confidence level was higher and the older girls were more aggressive.”
Senior Audrey Castillo said the camp was “different, I learned a lot.”
High school students attending were Reona Alvarez, Caasi Apodaca, Destiny Apodaca, Michaela Basteen, Castillo, Jadah Cortez, Payton Damron, Elicia Esquivel, Danielle Figueroa, Candace Forgach-Aguilar, Dominique Garcia, Lanea Leonard, Hunter Lindsey, Kayla O’Connell, Angel Ontiveros, Sarina Robledo, Amaya Sanchez, Brigid Silvester, Aleeya Williams and Madalyn Wright.
Participating junior high school students included Jadyn Aguilera, Celine Berube, Julye Burrola, Elianna Cazares, Mya Chacon, Gianna Chavez, Kryzzia Cortez, Zenayah Cortez, Adrianna DeAnda, Destiny Dionne, Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar, Rayla Funari, Briseis Hudman, Celina Manuz, Ashlee McBride, Cambri McCauley, Viviana Mendez, Mia Ontiveros, Sonia Roybal, Isabela Seballos, Hannah Silvester and Beatrice Ward.
In addition to Mennen, Morenci coaches attending were Traci Olmsted, Rebecca Hayes, Tara Helms and Denise Wilkes.
“I hope this (camp) is not the peak of your volleyball career,” head instructor Kyle Chapman said in his closing remarks to the campers. “You have a good foundation. Every rep is a chance to improve your skills, to build on what you’ve learned.”
The Phoenix area resident said the biggest reward he gets from doing the camps is watching the improvement from the first day to the last. The Morenci-held camp was his fifth this summer with nine more scheduled for him, mostly in the same time zone. In prior years, he has been all over the country.
Joining Chapman on the national instructional staff were California residents Jasmine White and Joe Mayer. Each of the instructors had collegiate experience in the sport, either as a player or as part of a coaching staff.
The final hour of the last day had the campers paired against each other in a last man standing format, then against the coaches, to showcase their newly learned skills.
Morenci’s volleyball teams have finished above .500 in three of the previous six years (2011-16) yet are 86-96-8 overall.
During the last decade (2007-16), the Wildcats have participated in the state playoffs thrice (2007, 2009, 2010), being done in one match twice, but have not qualified for the post-season since 2010.
The Wildcats finished 15-14 overall in 2016, 4-8 in the 2A East Region for 5th of seven teams, and a 9-8 seeding record with a 0.6092 rating for No. 25 of 50 (state meet was top 16). Four of eight letter winners expected to return for the 2017 campaign attended the camp.
Mennen is the eighth MHS volleyball head coach in the previous 10-year period, following Susan Hooper (2007, 21-24-2), Marcy Kenny (2008, 20-17-5), Rebecca Hays (2009, 33-13-5), Daisha Scott (2010, 20-24-1), Steve Chavez (2011, 14-17-3), Misti Obregon (2012, 14-18-2), Rebecca Manuz (2013-15, 43-47-3), and Rhyanna Carpenter (2016).