RIPON – Ripon Christian’s annual Knights Volleyball Camp had its biggest turnout in the history of the week-long summer camp Thursday.
“This is my eighth year doing the camp,” said Tiger Shelton, Ripon Christian High School’s Director of Operations who coached the Knights to five consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championships before losing against Bear River for the D-IV title last winter. “We’re usually used to about 70 or 75, but we started camp a little bit later this year.”
Shelton said 125 girls registered, and it was divided into two separate groups for the younger and elder participants. The third through sixth graders practiced their volleyball skills in RC’s old gymnasium.
For the older more advanced group, Shelton had his wife Michelle along with some current and former RC players help out with instruction in the main gymnasium.
The Knights’ eight-year volleyball coach also had his daughter Andie Shelton, an incoming senior at Ripon Christian, assisting with the camp as well. Andie made a verbal commitment to attend and play volleyball at the University of the Pacific on a full-ride scholarship in the fall of 2014, and she’s considered one of best three setters in her age group nationally.
“A lot of girls like Andie and some others working the court are trying to earn money to go to Europe,” Tiger said. “We play the (European) Global Challenge, so we play against the Russian National Team and the USA National Team.
“It’s high-performance (volleyball). It’s like an All-Star team of travel ball girls from all over Northern California, and some college girls.”
Andie, along with former RC standout and 2009 graduate Candice Adema, were just two of Ripon Christian’s seasoned volunteers assisting with the camp.
Adema was a veteran player at RC who helped raise the program to new heights and local dominance during her four-year campaign. She was an All-American at Westmont College – a Christian, liberal arts college in Santa Barbara – this past season.
“Candice was my setter here for a long time,” Shelton said. “We have girls here from as far as Colorado, Los Angeles and from all over.
“What I want to do here at this camp is teach the fundamental skills of volleyball to a very young age.”
The Knights Volleyball Camp emphasized proper technique in the five basic areas of the game: passing, blocking, hitting, serving and defense. The camp had a fairly low athlete-to-coach ratio, which meant each participant received the necessary attention and coaching needed to benefit.
Shelton had girls from the Modesto, Manteca, Ripon and Stockton area. Ripon Christian’s camp even had five middle school students from Jackson attending.
“A friend told me about (the camp), and we all just carpool together,” said Sofia Neville, an incoming eighth grader at Jackson Junior High.
One of the instructors attending the camp was Delta Valley Volleyball Club Director Richard Chan, who has quite a resume and was extremely helpful in providing insight and knowledge to the youth-laden group in attendance.