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Successful volleyball coach ready to develop skills of area players

Oates hosting volleyball camp on Saturday in Palmer
Cathy Oates has enjoyed a lot of volleyball success in recent years, and now it’s time for her to help area girls get a head start on the 2008 season.
As the varsity and junior high coach of the Lady Crusaders the past three years, Oates’ high school teams reached the state semis every year and broke through to the championship game in 2007.
She also coached at Texas Image Club Ball in Grand Prairie this year.
On Saturday, Oates will host a volleyball camp at Palmer Middle School (118 FM 813 W, by the baseball field) for all area girls entering grades four through 12.
A lot of volleyball players don’t play the sport in the summer and will have to shake off the rust when school resumes. Participants at her camp will be one step ahead of the game when teams come together in August.
“I’ve always had a camp for my St. John players and usually opened it up to any girls who were looking for a camp,” Oates said.
“It’s important to teach fundamentals to younger girls who are just getting into volleyball and it’s big to have some skills as you enter into junior high ball. A lot of high school girls think they don’t need a camp before the season, but it’s good to make sure your skills are sharp before you return for that first week. Fundamentals are still very important for high school players – if you can’t pass the ball well, you can’t contribute much on the court.”
Normally, Oates prefers to hold a two- or three-day camp, but the situation this year dictated it needed to be a one-day event – in this case 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
She said the middle school’s gym is large, so it will be easier to move girls around into different groups.
For example, players who exhibit strong passing skills from the start will move on to other skills like hitting and serving sooner.
“I will definitely fit everything I can into those six hours,” Oates said.
“I’ll split up the participants into several age groups for the first hour and evaluate their skills, then move forward focusing on different skills throughout the day.”
She’ll be assisted by former St. John players like Samantha Pleiner.
During her senior season with the Lady Crusaders in 2007, Samantha was a first-team all-state selection.
“Samantha came a long way in volleyball since junior high and developed her confidence in the sport, as well as her skills,” Oates said.
“She’s proof that hard work and determination can make all the difference. With her help, we’ll see what each girl needs to work on individually and go from there.”
That’s a key to Oates’ camp not found at a lot of youth sports camps – individual work with the instructor.
From her time at St. John, one-on-one work with each girl was very important.
“As opposed to just doing a lot of drills, I want some individual time with each girl to figure out what they need to work on. Every player has different things they do well, so it’s more effective if you don’t work on the same stuff with everyone. Meanwhile, other participants will be working with my player assistants.”
Though she places high value on individual skill level, the importance of teamwork definitely isn’t lost on the coach.
While coaching 15- and 17-year-old players at Texas Image Club Ball, Oates found the team concept to be more important than ever.
“Select ball is more about trying to teach skilled players the importance of working together as a team,” she said.
“A talented player who doesn’t mesh well with teammates won’t be very successful.”
Just because the coach is inviting young girls to the camp doesn’t mean she won’t challenge experienced high school players at the same time.
“High school girls really need to try to improve their vertical and strength to be a hitter,” Oates said.
“The right technique is key. Jump serving is also important to learn.
“It doesn’t matter how skilled you are; there’s always room for improvement. There’s a lot to volleyball beyond just stepping on the court and hitting the ball, both mental and physical.”
For potential fourth and fifth graders interested in building their foundation of skills, Oates said there are YMCA leagues for girls that age and it’s never too early for them to learn fundamentals like passing, hitting, serving and strength-building exercises.
“Girls should definitely start learning how to hit in junior high,” she said.
“It often takes two years to really improve on any skills, especially hitting. No matter the age, I like to teach all girls the same skills – just at different levels.”
Oates is impact certified and will give private lessons as well.
Beyond aforementioned skills, the coach will also address concepts like blocking, quicks, slides, crossovers and back-row hitting.
The camp fee is $35, to be paid either in cash or money order.
With just a couple of days before the camp, Oates said it will be just fine to show up on Saturday morning without registering ahead of time. For questions, please call her at 972-979-8766.
Oates is expecting girls from Ennis, Palmer, Waxahachie and Avalon, but made sure to mention any girl entering grades four through 12 looking to learn the game or improve their skills is welcome to join her.
Her track record as a coach is proof Oates knows how to get the most out of anyone on the volleyball court.

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Posted by on Jul 24 2008. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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