Photo by Amy Harris
This year’s coaches from left to right: Cheryl Hughes, Mark Myers, Amy Harris and Pat Tye. Coach Mark Peck not pictured. Between all of them, they have coached Ballard and now Loyal Heights Community Center volleyball teams for a combined 15-plus years.
Teaching middle schoolers a love for volleyball
By Christy Wolyniak
The approach of autumn season brings with it not only BHS football (go Beavers!), but another, perhaps lesser known opportunity at the Loyal Heights Community Center. Volleyball.
Seattle Parks and Recreation hosts the Community Center leagues for only $35 for the whole season. Compared to $1,500 a season for some club leagues, the price makes learning to play volleyball an affordable option for students, particularly those in middle school. The program began at the Ballard Community Center, but recent cutbacks in funds led the program to make Loyal Heights its new stomping ground.
“I love coaching because I like teaching something that I myself love to do. If I can impart the love that I have for the sport to others then that’s great,” said Loyal Heights Coach, Mark Myers.
Myers has been coaching for community centers for seven years and coached four years for the Cascade Volleyball Club. Trained in Gold Medal Squared (GMS), the Loyal Heights coaches use the same coaching system used by the US Olympic teams, University of Washington, and many other college and high school programs.
The program targets 12-13 year-old girls looking to learn how to play volleyball or be part of a team. Volleyball requires coordination and strength, Myers said, making 6th grade a prime age to learn the sport.
“[A good coach somebody who knows how to teach; who can teach kids physical skills and the reason why you do things a certain way so they understand the method to the madness,” Myers said.
At the community center, there are five coaches who help teach volleyball. Assistant Coach Amy Harris, who coached club volleyball for three years; Mary Peck, who was the head coach of the Cascade U12 teams for several years; Pat Tye, a 20-year competitive volleyball player and four-year coach at the community center; and Cheryl Hughes, who has coached three years at the community center.
Many girls who play for the league will go on to play for their high school varsity teams, Myers said. 11 out of 13 of the Ballard High School volleyball players played for Loyal Heights. The coaches emphasize fun and an active lifestyle, creating a positive learning environment for players.
“At the end of their experience, the vast majority of players are having a blast and want to play more. [We hope instill a love of the game [so that they want to continue to play. For most girls playing, that’s what happens,” Myers said.
Various skill sets are represented on the team and the coaches strive to reach every level of experience.
“We do a very good job to make sure all the players are challenged whether they are beginners or girls [that have played for a few years,” Myers said.
Practice begins next Tuesday, but signups will continue until 20 players fill the team. Practice runs Tuesday and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. most nights. The Loyal Heights Community Center is located on NW 77th and 20th NW. For more information about how to sign up, visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks/centers/loyalhtd.htm.