The Bradley Central Bearettes and the Cleveland Lady Raiders, who met for the first time in 2012 Wednesday at the Choo-Choo Team Camp at Ooltewah High School, have all been busy in one form or another.
“My girls have kind of been everywhere. We’ve got so many girls that are involved in so many other things. I got some of my basketball players back for the first time this week. That was Tuesday and they missed the whole first day of camp. I had girls traveling all over for state for school competitions,” said Bearettes coach Christie McElhaney.
“Last week was the first time we got a big chunk of our girls together. Then, with vacations and other things I am still missing a few girls this week.”
The four-day scrimmage camp put together by East Ridge, Ooltewah and Red Bank, winds down the summer programs attended by the majority of girls. They will begin organized practices in the coming days.
“We have not had any organized practices yet. We get 15 days in July and have been to camps for the past two weeks. Next week will be our first time together in the gym as a team,” Cleveland coach Patricia Flowers said just before the Lady Raiders took to the floor.
“You just play all day. The girls are exhausted when we are done. You just throw them out there and put different lineups in. We are keeping stats. We have never done that for this [preseason] week. We are keeping score and when they come in the huddle ... we tell them what their score is, the points they earn and points subtracted for errors. It keeps them focused on the competition before it matters. It’s helping us really see what we’ve got.
McElhaney said the Bearettes have been conditioning and preparing for the upcoming season under the direction of new assistant coach Jeremy Rogers. With her girls spread out on basketball courts and other school activities, the coach said she is glad to see them coming back in shape.
“My new assistant, Jeremy Rogers, was responsible for conditioning. He’s had mainly the freshmen the whole month of June doing conditioning. The new girls are coming in in shape and the older girls are out doing basketball and other activities,” McElhaney said. “So, they are coming in in pretty good shape, but they are not quite in volleyball shape yet. It is a whole different thing for them. We’ve got to work on that in the next four weeks.”
The Lady Raiders, for the most part, have stayed on various volleyball courts on a plethora of club teams.
“There was one time we were on the bench and we looked out on the court and realized every one of our girls play club volleyball, the majority of my lineup from freshman to varsity,” said Flowers. “It wasn’t that way 10 years ago in our program. You can definitely tell in our area on all teams, club [play] is definitely increasing volleyball competition.”
Both coaches said their respective teams are ready to get to it for real and have already set goals for themselves and their teams. With holes to fill from 2011 graduation, the rosters could be wide open and Flowers and McElhaney are anxious to see who will step up to fill the gaps.
“They have high expectations for themselves,” McElhaney said of the Bearettes. “We did lose four people from last year, but the ones coming in and the ones coming off the bench to take starting roles really have high expectations of where we can go this year. They kind of have their own goal in mind and they are ready to start working toward that.”
Flowers said she is happy with the way the Lady Raiders have found a good chemistry even before the season and the various camps have played a major role in their growth.
“I am very pleased with my team. We went to the Choo-Choo Team Camp this week and last week we were in Rhea County at the Bryan College camp,” she said. “The girls have amazing chemistry. We are learning a lot in July. We always learn a lot in July about our team. We have some areas we need to work on and we have some areas we are strong in.”