Area youth participate in Club Sports camps over summer
A variety of Liberty University Club Sports programs hosted youth from the Lynchburg community and beyond in sports camps this week, with more scheduled over the next two months.
Several coaches and players from the Flames men's Division I hockey team put on a beginners hockey camp from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the LaHaye Ice Center, with 21 youth coming from as far as Charlottesville, Roanoke, and Greensboro, N.C.
Liberty head coach Kirk Handy and assistant Jeff Boettger ran the morning sessions and fellow assistants Dave Semenyna and Mike Binnie directed the afternoon workouts. Returning Flames goalie Blair Bennett, defender Matt Sherry, former hockey standout and current beach volleyball player Mike Morrison, lacrosse players Mike Zumpano and Derek Haywood, and recent graduate Brock Nardozzi provided additional support.
The enthusiastic staff worked hard to bring out the best in the young players.
"All the guys are trying to help out however they can in running the drills," said Bennett, who has led instruction of the goalies after rehabilitating from ACL and MCL tears in February. "It's been a lot of fun and it's my first week back on the ice, so it's an overall exciting time for me.
"A lot of the guys here haven't played too much," he added. "They're in their first couple years of hockey, so it's a big time of learning for them, and it's good for us. They're excited just being on the ice with us, too."
What new skills have the fledgling players picked up?
"Stick-handing and shooting," said Eric Lee, a 7-year-old from Korea, living in Lynchburg, who was attending his first hockey camp after playing organized hockey for the first time this past winter.
"It's been good. I've learned a lot," added 10-year-old Ethan Hara who plays goalie for the Hill City Coyotes and plans to move up from the Squirts to the Pee Wee level for the Lynchburg league next winter. "I was over there with the little kids, but I'm over with the big kids now and I'm getting a lot of shots on goal that are really high, so I have to use my glove and my blocker more often."
Liberty's staff is also planning overnight hockey camps from July 16-21 and July 21-25, prior to the annual floor and ice renovations that will run through early August.
|Liberty figure skating and synchronized skating coach Tatiana Payne (left) guides a young skater through a freestyle workout Tuesday at the LaHaye Ice Center.|
In the evenings at the LaHaye Ice Center, Tatiana Payne, head coach of Liberty's figure skating and synchronized skating teams, and former U.S. Junior National champion John Carlow directed an advanced figure skating camp through Thursday with support from assistant coach Dawn Harter.
They instructed the skaters and supervised their free skating, with Carlow using a harness mechanism to help increase skaters' lift as they learn how to spin in the air and land their jumps.
Most of the skaters, including Lynchburg's up-and-coming 14-year-old novice Maya Carter, used the extra practice time to prepare their programs for this weekend's Commonwealth State Games, to be held at LaHaye for the first time. The preliminary round is set for Friday followed by the main event Saturday and United States Figure Skating Association testing on Sunday.
Approximately a dozen female skaters took part in the advanced camp, with more expected for next week's camp for beginners from 8 a.m. to noon, open to skaters ages 6 to 15.
|A youth wrestler puts his opponent on his back while sparring Tuesday in the Wiseman Wrestling Room.|
The same number of elementary school-aged athletes showed up for Liberty's first of two wrestling camps in the Wiseman Wrestling Room at Williams Stadium, a suitable facility for such a small group.
"For this one, it's perfect, plenty of room," Flames head coach Jesse Castro said, who may utilize the East Campus indoor volleyball court for overflow at the July 14-18 middle school and high school camp, which could draw close to 60 wrestlers.
This week, Castro has received coaching assistance from former wrestlers Peter Crawford, Ryan McDonald, and Collin Lewis, as well as counseling from a couple area high school athletes who will be participating in next month's camp.
"The kids are having a good time and learning some wrestling," Castro said Thursday while the campers took an afternoon break at the LaHaye Student Union pool. "We've kept it very fundamental. The key is to make it fun for them."
On Friday, the youth competed in a mini-tournament, with the wrestlers divided into weight classes and having the opportunity to earn medals as they applied the techniques they learned throughout the week.
Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre held the first in a series of youth ski and snowboard camps from 7:30 a.m. to noon each day this week, with another running next week.
Sessions include ski and snowboard lessons in the morning before concluding with fun activities such as tubing and jumping on the aerial awareness trampoline.
Overnight camps from July 14-19 and July 21-26 will offer more advanced skiers and snowboarders from around the country opportunities to excel in the sport, practicing tricks on Snowflex's three areas of progression parks.
There is also a skateboard camp set for July 8-12 at the Liberty Mountain Skatepark.
From Aug. 5-9, Liberty men's lacrosse coach Kyle McQuillan will direct a summer camp for players ages 9 to 15, followed by a clinic for rising high school juniors and seniors held prior to the Flames' tryouts in mid-August.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer