In an effort to promote its athletic programs and give coaches a sneak peek at up-and-coming local talent, this summer Mountain View High School is hosting a series of sports day camps for elementary and middle school students.
Spartan Sports Camp, which begins June 11 and runs through July 27, will be held at Mountain View High School and will feature week-long sessions focused on a variety of sports, including baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball, track and field, volleyball and water polo, said Ricky Appler, assistant director of the camp.
"(It's) a great opportunity for the school to take a look at the incoming kids," said Ivan Bandov, the varsity girls soccer coach. "From a coaching perspective you get to work with the kids who may be coming into the high school. Even if we just work with them for a week, we can teach them a lot."
Each session will be run by a Mountain View High School coach, or a student athlete, Appler said. The high school coaches run the camps for the middle-schoolers; these camps will focus on a single sport for the entire week. High school student athletes will run the sessions for the third, fourth and fifth graders; children in these camps will play a number of sports.
The idea is to familiarize the coaches with young local athletes and vice-versa.
Gil Cordero, basketball coach for the freshman and sophomore boys at MVHS, wondered why the school hadn't started a camp like this before.
Cordero, who coached Pop Warner Youth Football for 30 years, noted, "When I have contact with an athlete at a young age, I feel there is a bond there." Such bonds make the relationship between the player and coach stronger, and often result in better performance on the field, he said. "It's an advantage."
Not only does Appling hope coaches will get a better sense of who may be playing on future Spartan teams, he hopes that the camp will bring more local teen athletes into the MVHS athletics program.
"St. Francis has been the powerhouse in sports around here," Appling said. "We want Mountain View to be on par athletically. We want the programs to get better."
A large part of getting better, according to Cordero and Ivan, is simply attracting more talented players. Because of St. Francis' strong reputation in both academics and athletics, many local kids jump from the local public middle schools to St. Francis when they graduate from eighth grade.
"It's a challenge" when so many great players that would have otherwise become Spartans choose to play for the Lancers instead, Bandov said.
"They (St. Francis) have reserve players that could be starters at many public schools," Cordero said.
He said he is optimistic that having access to high school coaches at the Spartan Sports Camp might nudge some young athletes and their parents toward MVHS. "Not a lot of camps offer coaching from the high school level. It's a good way to get involved before you enter high school."
Two promotional "clinics" are being held Saturday, April 21, and Sunday, May 6, to help spread the word about the camp, Appler said. The clinics will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., are open to boys and girls, and will conclude with a free pizza lunch. Both events will focus on basketball strategy, technical and tactical drills, and scrimmages.
"We just want to give them an idea about what the camp will be like," Appler said. Appler, along with camp director Doug Wiersig will be accepting registrants at both of the clinics. Those who sign up on either day will be eligible for a discount on the price of camp tuition, he said.
The multiple-sport camps for the younger kids cost $250 per week; single-sport camps are $275; and a strength and conditioning camp is $215. More information is available at www.spartanssportscamp.com.