Camps develop young Laker athletes

Young softball players develop their skills during a camp on GVSUs campus on June 29-30

Eric Coulter

Young softball players develop their skills during a camp on GVSU’s campus on June 29-30

Emanuel Johnson

Summer vacation has long since begun at Grand Valley State University, but some of the school’s coaches and athletes have been busy preparing not only themselves for upcoming seasons but aspiring collegiate athletes as well.

In service to the community and as a means to earn some fundraising gain, several GVSU athletic teams have begun hosting summer camps geared toward improving younger athletes’ skills in a specific sport.

Altogether the school offers instruction in 12 different sports plus a multi-sport camp for elementary and junior high students. Each sport is broken down into several concentrated facets for each session of each camp.

Some camps, such as the GVSU baseball camp, are only offered to young children (in this case ages 7-12). Coordinated by GVSU assistant baseball coach Jamie Detillion and run by current and former players, the baseball camp is designed to teach participants only the basic skills and technique necessary to participate effectively in the sport.

“Our focus is not on competitiveness and it is not on developing collegiate athletes,” Detillion said. “Our focus is more so on having fun, enjoying the game, skill development and some of the finer points of the game. The kids that we have at the summer camps are just too young to get caught up into winning and losing.”

Other sports, such as football and volleyball, offer more concentrated aid to older participants with the intent of developing a skill set for future collegiate athletes.

The football team offered an offensive and defensive lineman camp on June 28 for high school students and has planned for two specialized sessions offered only to high school seniors on July 11 and 14.

As for the volleyball team, variety is the key word. The team has planned several one-day position camps as well as a few sessions of team camps for July. There will even be a two-day elite camp on July 12 and 13 designed to test highly-skilled players in the same manner as that of GVSU players.

“This year, the variety in our camps is unparalleled,” said Camp Director Craig Vlietstra on the camp Web site. “We have added a ball control and scrimmage camp along with a beach volleyball camp. In a nutshell, we are passionate about volleyball and simply want to share this love with as many summer campers as possible.”

This sense of passion and service can be seen in most of the camps. GVSU head softball coach Doug Woods, who will head up two days of skill-driven camps in late July, said he is glad to reach out now that the school year is over.

“During the school year it’s a little bit tough to get to reach out to the community,” he said. “We have both our season and our academics to worry about. But during the summer, it becomes easier for our players to find the time to work with younger athletes.”

While the GVSU athletes running the camps gain an opportunity for community service and a minor financial boost for their program, Detillion said what they gain in teaching fundamentals to young athletes is far more valuable in developing their own skill set.

“We typically have some of our older players help out with the camps,” he said. “They learn to absorb the game a lot better when they’re teaching it than when we’re teaching them. It forces them to think about their own skill development when trying to teach it to a younger athlete.”

Several sports have already held sessions designed for a specific group of athletes and are preparing for a second round of sessions for July. The women’s lacrosse clinic, which has been slated as a Fall 2010 clinic, has yet to release complete details.

For more information about all of GVSU’s summer sports camps, go to

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