By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
SPRINGFIELD — Brittany Lein played soccer and ran track as a youth in Colorado before attending a school that offered her something new — volleyball.
“Why don’t you try it?” the Effingham County coach remembered her parents saying.
She tried it and, not long after, was all in. She made her middle school team. By the time she was 16, she traveled three hours from home four times a week to practice with her club team.
Lein earned a volleyball scholarship to the Savannah College of Art & Design. Then she got a job coaching at Effingham County High School.
Thursday morning at the Little Lady Rebel Volleyball camp, she was showing girls younger than 10 years old how to hold their hands when bumping a volleyball.
The two-day camp, with sessions each day for girls in grades 2-4 in the morning and girls in grades 5-7 in the afternoon, attracted about 80 participants.
“I didn’t start as young as some of these girls, but I fell in love with the sport and eventually gave up all the other sports,” Lein said. “To be able to give back, (recreating) some of the relationships I had with my coaches, it’s awesome.”
The camp is a fundraiser for the Effingham County volleyball team, which made trips to Augusta at the start of last season and later St. Augustine, Fla., at midseason. Traveling enhances players’ opportunities to see the game played in different ways in different regions.
Lein sees a bigger picture for the Little Lady Rebel camp.
“Volleyball has grown so much over the last couple of years and we’ve seen a large group of kids wanting to play, whether that’s at a rec center or some developmental leagues that have come to the area,” she said. “We teach a little bit about each position and what we do, just to get them interested, and let them find what they want to do and what they want to be part of.”
The younger campers displayed a mixed bag of potential during a session-ending game. Some, wearing stern looks, tried to use their newly acquired skills to get the volleyball over the net.
Others didn’t mind seeing the ball bounce a few times before taking a swing.
The camp counselors — the girls from the ECHS volleyball program — easily maneuver from instructors to proud, big sisters.
“It’s great for our girls to share their knowledge of the game and it’s fun to watch them interact with the future of our community,” Lein said. “We see girls (at camp) with such raw talent. Volleyball is growing and you can see these young kids want to be a part of it. It will be fun to watch as they grow if they stick with it.”