Courtesy of New Paltz Sports Information Department
Plattekill, NY --- On Feb. 5, nine players from the State University of New York at New Paltz women's volleyball team attended Plattekill Elementary, where a youth volleyball program took place. It wasn't the first time the team took on leadership roles. Last year, the squad volunteered twice at the same program with the Wallkill Rotary Club. Fortunately, the team set aside time to make sure they give back to the community each year.
While attending, the team helped instruct around 20 youth players, ranging from fourth to eighth grade. Groups were broken up by age, so the fourth and fifth grade group played from 6-7 p.m., while kids from grades six through eight went from 7-8 p.m. During these sessions, the groups participated in rotating games, consisting of both 4v4 and 6v6 mixed team matchups with the Hawks varsity players.
SUNY New Paltz aided the younger players by setting examples of how to hustle and use proper communication. In the process, the youth players received constructive criticism on how to get better. The young players expressed admiration for the Hawks who helped out, and even asked for autographs from the 2018 State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Champions.
"A bunch of them ran to their parents for pens to get autographs," said SUNY New Paltz coach Matt Giufre. "It was just enthusiasm telling them about what we accomplished and just giving them something to take home from the experience of the night was fun."
Throughout the entire time, the young players were given opportunities to work on parts of their game they wished to improve. The group then practiced drills involving serving, setting, and more. From the perspective of the SUNY New Paltz players, they were pleased to see so many kids were starting the game from an even younger age than they did. In fact, most of the Hawks who attended admitted they started playing volleyball in middle school, whereas many of the players at the program were working on improving their game as fourth graders. From this, everybody at the program shared a common bond for the love of volleyball, which clearly showed throughout the event.
"We just had a lot of fun giving back to the community in our sport," Giufre said. "In a sport that we all love and have gotten so much out of. That was part of the highlight for us."