Image- Volleyball camp
Sarah Hawkins was among a group of about two dozen Coastside girls who participated in a volleyball camp in Pescadero last week. Kyle Ludowitz/Review

Pescadero High School head volleyball coach Wayne Johnson had an announcement to make to a group of 24 hungry high school girls. “There’s only one cup of sour cream,” he said, imploring them to make sure there was enough for everybody. The sour cream still disappeared quickly, and the next day he planned to bring a tub of it.

Johnson brought the girls, from Pescadero and Half Moon Bay high schools, burritos every day for lunch during a four-day volleyball camp hosted at the gym in Pescadero. After raising about $6,000 from holding 14 tournaments at the school’s gym in the spring, Johnson was able to pay expert instructors to help the Coastside teams improve their game.

“I wanted to put this camp on because the girls helped me support the tournaments here,” he said. “That’s the money that helped fund this camp, and by me being here 20 weekends a year, is what did this.”

Johnson considered sending the girls to an existing camp, but the costs were too high and it was hard to find exactly what he was looking for. 

Instead, Ryan Havice, the varsity head volleyball coach at Half Moon Bay High School, suggested having someone come to Pescadero. He had attended coaching clinics with Gold Medal Squared, a company that uses science-based training methods at volleyball camps around the country. 

“It was a really exciting idea to be able to have some professionals come in and teach us,” said Aidan O’Connor, a senior at Pescadero High. “It’s a great thing for us, especially in a small town like Pescadero. We don’t get a lot of things like that.”

Roy Powell, a professional volleyball player in Europe, and Rob Holley, a volleyball coach from Florida, led the camp at Pescadero. 

“If we can fall controlled, you won’t get hurt,” Powell instructed the girls after a lesson on diving. “Don’t be afraid of the ground. Embrace it.”

The camp is part of Johnson’s efforts to help his team compete with the larger schools in their league. 

“We don’t have a lot of kids who are playing organized sports at an early age ... and they come here and they want to play,” he said. “We learn volleyball for two months a year and try to compete with kids who have been playing year-round since middle school.”

“It’s hard playing against different teams because we’re so small,” said senior Pescadero student Monse Marin. 

It also gives the athletes a chance to work with people from a different school and learn from them. 

“I brag about the community as much as I can, and so I like that idea of just getting the broader Coastside community involved,” Havice said. 

In addition to learning and improving their technical skills, many girls said they formed new friendships during the course of the nine-hour camp. 

“We are spending time with our friends, meeting new people, and improving our skills for the upcoming volleyball season,” Marin said. 

Mayah Johnson, a sophomore at Half Moon Bay High School, and Madelyn Mullins, an incoming freshman, were split up on different courts but found each other during breaks to share a laugh.  

“It’s nice to get to know new people and learn from them, watch them do what they do and take notes on it,” Johnson said nodding her head to Mullins. “She and I got closer from doing this camp because we’re all here together. We’re all different grades, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.”

The pair unintentionally tilted their heads together at the same time causing them both to laugh. 

“We’re also going over some things we’ve already learned,” Mullins said. “But it’s helpful to review it and get better at it to build on the foundation we already had … so we can become better players.”

After finishing a drill, a group of girls from both high schools walked up to Coach Johnson, with an encouragement from Powell, and thanked him in loud unison for making the camp possible. And for the burritos and sour cream. 

Emely Vazquez contributed to this story. 

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