Image- Beach volleyball
Coastside kids showed up at Francis beach to participate at Mike Inglis' first-ever beach volleyball camp. Kyle Ludowitz/Review

A timid girl who was older than most of the other kids showed up at Mike Inglis’ first-ever beach volleyball camp unable to bump the ball. By the end of the week, she was confident and enjoyed it so much she would go to Hatch Elementary School to practice after the camp ended. 

“That’s the kind of stuff that, as a coach, makes such a difference,” Inglis said. “When you can see that not only they’re having fun with the game ... but just giving them the confidence they can actually do something they couldn’t do before. That’s the kind of stuff that spills out to other parts of their lives.”

In addition to coaching indoor volleyball at Half Moon Bay High School, Inglis started a beach volleyball team at the school last year that attracted 20 girls. The team ranked seventh out of more than 40 schools at an end-of-season Santa Cruz tournament. 

But he realized the opportunities for local kids to play beach volleyball were almost nonexistent and decided to start a camp to improve the sport’s exposure. 

With help from his daughter, Natalie Inglis, and head coach Ryan Havice, Mike Inglis finished leading his first week of the beach volleyball camp on July 4. It had 16 registrants, and Inglis is preparing for two more four-day camps later this month. 

Natalie Inglis, who will be a sophomore this year, was one of her father’s star players last season. She and two other teammates will also help coach the next beginner and intermediate camps and participate in the advanced camp. 

“It’s great because they’re going to get some good community service hours out of it, and also they get to actually transmit some of the joy that they get from playing,” Mike Inglis said. 

Each day of camp is focused on developing a specific skill. The first day is spent learning how to pass the ball when it comes over the net. The second day the young athletes concentrate on serving and setting, and the following day they practice attacking. The last day culminates in using all these skills in a tournament.

“Nobody wanted to leave, so I figured, OK, that meant they were having a good time,” Inglis said. 

He took inspiration from a beach volleyball coaching clinic in Salt Lake City. On the plane home, he rewrote the whole program. It worked.

“I was ready to go and revise the whole thing after the first day,” he said. “I was like, ‘If this is a train wreck the first day, I have to go and really redo everything,’ but it ended up flowing pretty nicely.”

The next camp is also for beginner and intermediate players. It begins on July 15 at Francis State Beach. The following camp is for advanced players and starts on July 29. The cost is $197, and much of the money will be used to fund the high school’s beach volleyball team next year. 

Inglis hopes to continue the camp next summer and provide even more opportunities for people to play beach volleyball. 

“I really want to expand it to be able to serve people so that they can play throughout the summer,” he said. “... Four days gives you a good grounding in the game, but to get better at the game, you just have to play it. You have to consistently get out and do it.”

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