By Perry A. Farrell
Mackenzie Jarvis, a senior at Detroit Renaissance High School, and Samantha Robinson, a freshman at Cass Tech, will be rivals once the high school volleyball season starts.
However, Friday at Renaissance they were teammates.
Both took part in the free volleyball clinic sponsored by Detroit Public Schools and Sound Mind Sound Body.
“We have a summer program Tuesdays and Thursdays, and we get 100 athletes to come out,’’ said Louis Mitchell, head coach at Renaissance and director of the Detroit Volleyball Coaches Association. “This is great because the girls are getting instruction from college coaches.’’
More than 100 participated in the free camp, which included free Adidas shoes.
“I wouldn’t have been able to take part in a program like this for free,’’ said Jarvis, who plays every position for the Phoenix. “There’s a different intensity level here with college coaches. This camp has helped me learn different ways about how coaches coach. It has also taught me different ways of viewing the game. I was single-minded, now it has opened me up mentally as far as playing.’’
Amanda Yaklin, a former player for Mitchell at the University of Michigan – Dearborn and presently at Oakland Community College, said getting a free education at the junior college level is available if the players were willing to take advantage.
“When I graduated, I had zero debt,’’ said Yaklin. “I don’t think a lot of these players know there’s a free education available by getting a scholarship at the junior college level. There are scholarship opportunities both academically and athletically. I’m excited about the number of girls here today and I’m anxious to get a chance to talk to some of them.’’
The free experience was invaluable to Robinson, who will be playing high school volleyball for the first time.
“I’m a setter so my sets are a lot better,’’ said Robinson. “The camp has helped me learn things like my jump serve. I’ve gotten better with that through this camp. Passing and hitting, my hitting has gotten a lot better. This whole camp has helped me become a better volleyball player.’’
Mitchell hoped this would be the first of many camps sponsored by SMSB and DPS.
“We started the Detroit Volleyball Coaches Association in 2015,’’ said Mitchell. The idea was to raise the level of volleyball in Detroit. It’s not just about Renaissance and Cass Tech. We wanted our whole league to get better. In order to do that we have to give our kids more opportunities to play and give coaches the opportunity to learn more about the game. We need this kind of camp and I hope it’s the first of many.’’
Michigan State came on Monday and Michigan came on Wednesday and Madonna came on Tuesday.
“The coach at Michigan came and she was interviewing for an assistant coaching job Eastern Michigan,’’ said Mitchell.
One of Mitchell’s former players heard about the camp and brought pizza for the more than 100 athletes.
The top players for this week were: Mackenzie Flowers from Cass Tech (11th), Jakiya Reese from Western Int’l (12th), Lolannie Fernandez from Western Int’l (10th), Brooklyn Jones from Renaissance (10th), Taylor Sims from Renaissance (10th), Desiree Slappey from Cass Tech (11th), and Ja’Niya Marks from Cass Tech (9th).
A special thank you to the coaches who came out and helped these students develop new skills! Thank you: Jefferey Hardman (Florida Memorial University), Russ Carney (Michigan State University), Jerry Abraham (Madonna University), Ashlie Reasor (Eastern Michigan University), Shannon Braun (Henry Ford Community College), and Alan Edwards (University of Michigan-Dearborn).