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ACE VOLLEYBALL CAMP

WATCH NOW: Volleyball--Ellie Kline's Ace Volleyball Camp debuts in Holmen

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HOLMEN — Some needed to work on improving footwork to set up for a good spike at the net, while others needed help with the most basic aspects of even playing volleyball.

One spent a chunk of Tuesday afternoon’s gathering at Holmen High School riding around inside a wheeled bin — her legs stuck out the holes so she could scoot around the gym — that held volleyballs.

Ellie Kline just graduated from Holmen in June, but here she was back at her alma mater in a much different role in a very familiar atmosphere.

Kline, who grew up attending sports camps of all kinds, was running the show this week for her very first ACE (Attitude-Confidence-Effort) Volleyball Camp, which was run through Holmen Hometown Heat.

A libero preparing for her first season at NCAA Division II Minnesota State-Mankato, Kline spent two days working with about nearly 80 kids (ranging from third through 10th grade) on various levels of learning the game she impacted so much as a Viking.

“I used to go to camps, and they were always so much fun,” said Kline, who was twice named most valuable player in the MVC. “As I got older, I thought, ‘I think I can do this. I think I can get people together and help kids love the sport of volleyball.’”

After heading to Mankato earlier this summer and helping with youth camps there, Kline determined that the timing was right to get something started in Holmen. So she talked to family and friends and quickly got the ball rolling.

She expected 35 or 40 kids to sign up but nearly doubled that amount for a couple of 2½-hour sessions for those entering third through sixth grade and two 3-hour sessions for those entering seventh through 10th grade.

“Kids just kept signing up,” said Kline, who is also motivated to keep the program moving forward after qualifying for the Division 1 state tournament for the first time last fall. “I’m super pleased with the number of kids we have signed up.”

Kline satisfied part of the challenge by leaning on family to help. Her parents, Marci and Mike, both helped run stations during Tuesday’s first session for the younger participants. Other relatives were there to help in different capacities, too.

The camp game used to be reserved for coaches or professional players before collegiate athletes started entering the picture. Kline hasn’t even played for the Mavericks, but here she is less than two months after finishing her high school career in a WIAA Division 1 softball regional final.

Kline developed the camp — well, two camps when considering the age difference — based on drills she learned within the sport.

Campers used balloons to develop control, raced around the court and to specific parts of it upon command to show they knew them and worked on team work and serving. They were also able to play a match at the end of the session while split into like groups based on skill level.

“You have to find a balance and find things that will help everyone have a good time,” Kline said. “You also want to help everyone learn something new, and you want to challenge them at the same time.

“We spent a lot of hours planning what we could do. We definitely wanted to get all the skills in there to have something for every single person to take away from this.”

Todd Sommerfeldt can be reached at todd.sommerfeldt@lee.net or via Twitter @SommerfeldtLAX

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