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A group of seventh and eighth grade girls run through a serving drill during sand volleyball practice on Monday night.

Sand volleyball kicks off at Freedom Park

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In an effort to further develop the area's volleyball program, the Western Wisconsin Volleyball Association is offering sand volleyball training sessions at Freedom Park in New Richmond.

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Since the season kicked off on June 17, groups of second to 12th-graders have developed their skills and knowledge of the sport. Several camps focusing on varying experience levels run from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, and WWVA President Shelley Johnson estimated the season will end around Labor Day.

"Being in our first year, we know it will take a little while to kick off and get the word out," Johnson said. "But so far, the attendees have had a lot of fun, and it has been a great workout for our trainers, too."

The goal is to promote volleyball in the community and meet the demand for more training opportunities. Johnson said the camps are a great opportunity for older players and high school alumni to help train the younger players and keep building New Richmond's volleyball program.

"We want to continue to bring more programs for all ages --EMDASH-- boys and girls --EMDASH-- and to be able to support volleyball not only in New Richmond, but in the surrounding communities as well," Johnson said.

During the training sessions, players learn game strategy, test their physicality, exercise sportsmanship and participate in team bonding activities. Coupled with off-the-court components like refereeing and score tracking, these activities offer attendees a comprehensive volleyball experience.

"The camps also enhance the skills of current players in a fun atmosphere," Johnson said. "Who doesn't want to be outside?"

According to Johnson, the volleyball program in New Richmond has grown considerably over the last 10 years. As the sport becomes more popular, the WWVA receives more requests for additional training and advanced competition levels.

Last year, the WWVA Board of Directors initiated several new programs like the Little Spikers, the Junior Olympics, off-season training camps and sand volleyball. Although the Little Spikers focuses on introductory-level players and Junior Olympics is geared toward competitive 12- to 17-year-olds, sand volleyball is open to people of any age, gender and experience level.

"It is for the recreational player as well as those wanting to strengthen their skills in the off-season," Johnson said.

While Johnson runs much of the sand volleyball program herself, she credited local entities with aiding in the WWVA's success. Community Education, Parks and Recreation, St. Mary's School, the armory and the school district have all played an important role in furthering youth volleyball.

"We are grateful for the community support we receive in order to promote and offer these volleyball programs," Johnson said. "What we have been able to do and offer would not be possible without it."

For more information or to register for the sand volleyball program, go to www.wwsmash.com.

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Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
(715) 243-7767 x242
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