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Campers enjoy dual lessons at Peru skills camp this week

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SPACE: Sofie Nordman (R) creates enough space to get a shot away over Kasey Murry (L) during an offense/defense drill at the Peru girls' basketball and volleyball skills camp this week.
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IDEAS: Peru girls' basketball head coach David Weeks (R) makes sure campers Ravi McCain (C) and Natalie Reed (L) are getting the most out of a two-way drill at the Peru girls' basketball and volleyball camp this week. Girls from grades 1-8 split time between the Tig-Arena and Tiger Den working on basketball and volleyball skills.
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PARTING WORDS: Campers listen in as Peru volleyball head coach Dennett Roettger (C) talks after the completion of the Peru volleyball and girls' basketball skills camp Thursday. Campers got the opportunity to work with the Tiger varsity coaching staff along with high school players on fundamentals and skills throughout the week.
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JUMP IN: Volleyball camper Sianna Brooks (C) is more than ready to get a pass away during the Peru volleyball and girls' basketball skills camp this week.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

Summer break hasn’t been going for long but for 75 girls between grades 1-8, it was back to school for a week.

Of course, the classes offered at Peru High School were part of its annual volleyball and girls’ basketball skills camp, sponsored by Miami County Biddy Ball.

Girls in grades 1-4 started their mornings with Tiger girls’ basketball head coach David Weeks in the Tig-Arena while grades 5-8 worked with volleyball head coach Dennett Roettger in the Tiger Den before switching gyms and sports, helped out by members of the Peru High School girls’ basketball and volleyball teams.

The camp’s goal is to help girls improve their skills in both sports while gaining self-confidence, developing an interesting in the sport and to have fun.

Weeks said those goals were met across the five-day camp that started Monday with a 25 percent increase in attendance to boot as the camp had 75 attendees this year.

“We’ve had more girls participate than last year for certain,” Weeks noted on the attendance increase. “We’ve seen an increase in the girls in the fifth and sixth grades this year.

“It’s exciting to see more girls interested in playing basketball of volleyball and wanting to be involved in a school sport. In particular for basketball, it’s nice to see an increase in numbers just to build up the program and to see girls want to be a part of what we’re trying to build as a program.”

“Turnout was better than expected,” Roettger added. “I was happy to see a lot of the incoming seventh and eighth graders come to the camp.

“The little ones were all interested and all of them wanted to come out and play.”

The bulk of the early week was focused on drills in both gyms, ranging from shooting, passing, dribbling, defense and footwork at basketball to serving, passing, positioning and rotations at volleyball.

Keeping things moving was also important with Roettger noting some changes to what the volleyball camp provided kept the campers more involved.

“First through fourth grade we’ve been playing a lot of games while we hide the lessons in there,” Roettger said. “We want to keep them moving all day long and the high school girls love working with them.

“We might have been a little too basic with the younger girls last year, so we upped the skills for them, especially the third and fourth graders. We’re building on what they’ve learned.

“With the older girls, we tweaked what we did as we added some drills we did with the high school girls,” Roettger added. “Those girls are getting closer to the high school and we wanted to let the girls see those drills.

“We want to make sure the girls are exposed to everything as we want to make sure no one is limited in their position.”

Just as important as skills training is the interaction between campers and their high school counter parts according to Weeks.

“These girls look up to the high school girls that are helping as coaches throughout the week, which gives the older girls a chance to be positive role models” Weeks said. “It’s good for these girls to build a relationship with the younger girls and gets them excited to come and watch the high school teams play volleyball and basketball.”

A large number of the assistants throughout the week were incoming freshmen with many having been participants in the camp for a number of years, giving them the benefit of being able to connect with the current campers in a more direct way.

“The (freshmen) were just in those girls’ shoes, coming in and working with the high school girls last year, and now they’re the coaches helping with passing, shooting and defense,” Weeks said. “We’ve probably said it 100 times but it’s good to hear the high school girls talk about or demonstrate how to play the game and do so using the same lingo we use with them in practice and games, passing that down to the younger girls.”

“The freshmen girls have adjusted very well,” Roettger added. “They’ve been through the camp, know the drills and are getting an idea of the expectations that we have at the high school level.

“Them being here is a benefit to them. We also let them play for the girls a little bit, which gives us an idea of what they’ll be bringing to the table this year.”

The final day of the camp saw more competitions than drills but ended with an ice cream celebration and camp t-shirts being passed out, capping a fun week for everyone involved in the camp.

Both coaches were happy with the way the week went and pleased with the response from participants, assistants and parents each morning.

“We’ve got a great support system here on-and-off the court,” Roettger said. “Parents love bringing their kids here to do the basketball and the volleyball camp.

“Everyone is here on time and gets picked up on time. Some of the parents stick around to watch and enjoy seeing the kids playing and laughing.

“There’s a lot of laughter and a lot of fun times that these kids are having.”