WAXHAW – Marvin Ridge volleyball coach Brook Hammers has been to the pinnacle of success with her 2018 team that went 44-2 and won the state title, but she wants other teams in the area to be just as competitive.
That’s why she started Union Select Academy, which at first was solely a volleyball camp. This year, it runs June 15 to 18 from 9 a.m. to noon.
While Union Select Academy, which is for grades K-9, is hosted at Marvin Ridge and attended by many of the future Mavs, it is by no means just a Marvin Ridge thing.
“You don’t need to be a Marvin Ridge family cluster to come to camp at all,” Hammers said. “You can be from Cuthbertson, Piedmont, Parkwood, I don’t care. I just want volleyball to get better in this area. I do love it when I get to see some of them at the middle school level or actually play against them.”
Last year, Hammers had 98 kids. This year she expects more.
The same can be said for the soccer part of the camp, which started about seven years ago and is led by Marvin Ridge’s Jason Zak, also a state champion coach, and some of his current and former players.
The soccer camp, which runs June 15 to 17 from 8 to 11 a.m., is open to boys and girls in grades 6 to 9. It’s also open to everyone of all skill levels.
“Soccer is getting bigger,” Hammers said.
“I think he had 30 or 40 last year, but his numbers grew almost double from the year before, so it’s gotten a lot bigger over the years.”
Both camps offer expert instruction from two of the Mavs’ best.
When Hammers gets her team warmed up for a game or during a practice, everything is scripted and no time is wasted. Zak is much the same way.
Union Select Academy runs in much the same manner, especially for the little campers, who don’t need to be future all-conference stars.
When Hammers’ daughter was in kindergarten, she was at the camp. Hammers and her staff take special care of the younger kids.
“You don’t have to have any experience, you don’t have to have any knowledge of volleyball whatsoever,” Hammers said. “From kindergarten to third grade it’s an intro, so we play a lot of different games, we have a lot of fun with them. We get balloons out and beach balls out for those ages since the balls tend to be a little heavier. We have a lot of fun with the kids at that age.
“I have a nice schematic that I use and we do a lot of moving and shaking.”
Hammers staffs her camp with former players, many of whom are currently playing in college, and a few current players.
“I like to bring in former players,” Hammers said. “Some girls that have graduated or are playing in college will help me run the camp. The little ones can see what it takes, and they admire some of these girls they’ve watched play over the years.”
While Union Select Academy is staffed by some great former players, state championship-winning coaches and a few current Mavs stars, the whole idea of it is to have fun and make volleyball better county-wide.
In addition to the week-long camp, Hammers runs a camp hosted by Marvin Ridge the week before tryouts. That, like Union Select Academy, is open to anyone as long as they’re willing to work hard and have fun.
“These are open to anyone and everyone who wants to play, experienced or not,” Hammers said. “We just want to promote youth soccer and youth volleyball in the Waxhaw area and make it better.”
Want to learn more?
Union Select Academy’s volleyball camp is June 15-18 from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information, contact Brook Hammers at firstname.lastname@example.org. The soccer camp runs from June 15 to 17 from 8 to 11 a.m. Email Jason Zak at email@example.com for more information.