By Marian Dennis, The Mercury
POTTSTOWN >> “What makes this so rewarding is to see the eyes of these kids light up when they do something they didn’t know they could.”
Misty May-Treanor, a three-time Olympic gold medalist volleyball player, stood along with her father, Butch May, and her assistant coaches Thursday as they gathered players donning bright yellow “Dream in Gold” shirts in Memorial Park Thursday for a five-hour volleyball clinic. The clinic is designed to teach kids helpful techniques for volleyball and serves as the introduction to the 25th Annual Pottstown Rumble Volleyball Tournament , the world’s largest grass doubles tournament with the reputation of having the toughest competition.
After a brief introduction by May-Treanor, players were directed to the nets to begin warm-ups.
“What’s key in our sport is ball control,” explained May-Treanor.
“With a lot of these kids what happens is that they tend to overlook that everybody wants to play. Playing is the fun part. But they don’t realize the work at the junior level but also at the professional level that has to take place in order for them to play well. So we’re going to learn ball touches, ball control because this game is about who makes the most errors. So it’s important that these young kids develop a sense of where their first contact is and how to control the ball,” she said.
This year’s clinic is the fourth time May-Treanor has been back to Pottstown to coach kids from all over Chester and Montgomery counties, an experience she says continues to excite her every year.
“I’m just very passionate about this sport, passionate about teaching others and I want to see it continue to grow. So I’m here in Pottstown hopefully passing on some good information to these young players who are our next generation,” said May-Treanor.
May-Treanor wasn’t the only one excited for the clinic. Her assistant coaches, who could be seen scattered around the different grass courts teaching kids about communication and form, were just as enthusiastic about teaching the children as she was.
“I just like seeing the youth come out,” said Dan Mickle, who coaches three teams with the Association of Volleyball Professionals and serves as an assistant coach at York College. “I grew up playing beach and we didn’t have a men’s high school team or anything like that so this is how I grew up and I just like seeing this being introduced at this age level. It’s a landlocked state and to think about the Pottstown Rumble as big as it is, is kind of crazy. Kids getting exposed to outdoor and beach volleyball is kind of amazing. That’s my favorite part.”
The kids agreed. Players stated Thursday that they had all been looking forward to meeting and training with Misty.
“I thought it was really cool that I would be able to meet Misty May and be able to play with her and learn some things from her and the other coaches and other girls playing here, ” explained Tabitha Flagler, 16, of Doylestown, who has been playing volleyball for seven years.
“I think it’s a great experience and a great opportunity that we’re all able to be given,” added Rachel Bruton, 16, of Lansdale, another of the players. “Misty May is a great athlete and we all follow her in AVP and everything. It’s really hot out today so it’s kind of hard to keep going but it’s a great experience.”
Others were excited about their newfound skills.
“I’ve learned to position myself around the ball and I’m looking forward to getting more training from Misty,” said Clark Gilmore, 13.
The first games in the Pottstown Rumble start Friday with Juniors, Men’s Masters and Women’s Golden Grass Doubles.
“That’s I think the best thing, when you see these kids and they just enjoy it, they work hard and they take home something,” said May-Treanor.