Passion is defined as a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object or concept.
The Indian River School District — and, more specifically, Selbyville Middle School — has two people that have an unrivaled passion for the sport of volleyball. It’s obvious when they talk about the sport, and certainly IR and Selbyville students can see it when they are in their presence. Those two people are coaches Bill Croal and Sally Craig.
The two of them will be continuing their work to introduce, teach and grow the sport of volleyball with local fifth- through eighth-grade students in a one-week camp being held at Selbyville Middle School on June 18-21. The camp will run from 8 a.m. until noon each day, with the focus being on fundamentals and having fun.
“I am a retired guy that has time on his hands, and have a passion and addiction for the sport of volleyball,” Croal said. “I crossed paths with Sally three years ago and became a volunteer coach with her middle-school program at Selbyville when the program started there.
“I have over 50 years of experience with the sport,” he noted. “It really is a passion for me. It gets in your blood. I want the kids to have fun, laugh and have a good time. We have to get them introduced to the game at an early age, because volleyball is not a sport you can get good at just by starting to play in high school.”
For Craig, who has been the one and only coach of the Selbyville program, the job is also about a love and passion for the game. During their three years of play, the Indians are a combined 28-2. They won their first 24 matches — going 10-0 in both their first two seasons — before a loss to Chipman Middle School this season broke their undefeated string.
“I have coached for over 30 years in both Delaware and Virginia,” Craig confessed with a laugh, suggesting that it would show her age. “Any extra exposure we can get to the young kids will be great. We just want to promote the sport and help to keep growing the sport so that teams can get better and better.
“Bill runs a volleyball academy through the school. His enthusiasm is just amazing. I am so glad to have met him. He has been a huge supporter for the program and our success.”
Croal and Craig will be conducting their weeklong camp with the help of some fellow coaches, in the form of Jim Barnes (head coach at IRHS), Joy Clark (assistant coach at IRHS) and Ashley Revel (head coach at Georgetown Middle School). They will also have Indian River high school players volunteering and mentoring at the camp.
The camp will focus on tiered, skills-based instruction for beginners through advanced players. Campers will learn through the use of drills and fun games that focus on skill development, cooperation and team play.
“As of now we have a little over 20, and we are hoping to get to 30,” Croal said. “Registration has been extended until Friday, June 15. Interested people should contact Michele Murphy,” the districts adult and community education coordinator.
“Speaking of Michele Murphy,” Croal noted, “she has been an unbelievable supporter of this. I met with her in her office one day, and one thing led to another. She said, ‘Whatever I can do to help you with this…’ I cannot say enough about her support. This could not have been done without her.”
The fee to participate in the camp is $100, which includes a team T-shirt, as well as a pizza party. To register a child for the opportunity to learn a sport that is growing each year in the Indian River School District, contact Murphy at (302) 732-1522 (Option 7), or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We are hoping for a good turnout,” Craig concluded. “I just want to see the popularity of the sport grow, and — of course — if it helps our programs, it would be an added bonus.”
“This is just the start,” Croal added. “One of my goals is to create a volley-pop program for first-, second- and third-graders. It would be a good time to introduce those kids at that age to the sport when they are being recruited to play other sports, like baseball, soccer and lacrosse.”
And how soon would he like to get that started?
“It is certainly next on my agenda,” he concluded with a laugh. “Again, I am retired, so I’ve got nothing but time on my hands. I am gonna see if we can make this happen.”
By Jason Feather