A pair of Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf athletes immersed themselves in the sports they love this summer.
Rising eighth-grader Javanna Johnson and freshman Dalina Schwartz attended the JC Sports Performance Volleyball Camp July 22-26 in Frederick, Maryland.
Jason Coleman is the JC in the camp’s name and was one of 12 coaches on site. Many hail from Gallaudet University, an all-deaf school in Washington, D.C.
Coleman is a strength and conditioning coach and a former deaf Olympic team handball player.
“The coaching staff was very nice! They all came from a very athletic backgrounds, so it was nice to learn what they know so I can use it in games!” Schwartz said via email. “All of their experiences are very inspiring, and I’m glad to be taught by them with their amazing advices!”
Johnson added: “I definitely learned a lot! It’s a great experience to learn from different people from different states!”
According to Schwartz, a typical day at camp began at 9 a.m. with warmups, practice acceleration and various exercises with Coleman, coach Emelia Beldon or another staff member until 10:30 a.m.
After, the staff teaches the basics and structure of volleyball using drills and other volleyball-related activities.
Johnson described the latter half of the day, which included lunch, more drills and games until 1:30. That’s when campers broke into teams for two hours of scrimmages.
Schwartz said her favorite camp game was Queen of the Court, which allows a winning team to keep playing until an opposing team, which changes after each match, knocks the winning team off.
Johnson couldn’t decide, saying she loved them all.
The two are eager to take back some of the drills and skills to their Trojan teammates in Faribault this fall.
They’ll also be able to regale them about some sights seen.
“After practicing hard at the volleyball camp, I got to sightsee the town of Frederick with my friends in Maryland,” Schwartz said. “We went to downtown, went to a playground and swam in a pool! It was very fun!”
Johnson enjoyed the opportunity to meet new friends from across the country.
“It was fun hanging out and making new friends with other deaf schools,” Johnson said of athletes she could compete against in upcoming seasons. “It’s truly a great experience!”
Videos and photos from the camp are available on the JC Sports Performance Facebook page.
The MSAD duo extended their stay in the Washington, D.C., area by attending the eighth annual National Deaf Girls Basketball camp July 27-31.
The camp promotes skill development, conditoning and position-specific work. Also included are whiteboard sessions, scrimmages and games as well as a Girls Night Out to a Washington Mystics WNBA game.
Maryland School for the Deaf girls basketball head coach Amy Mowl is the camp director heading a staff of over 20. A majority of the staff were Gallaudet alums.
“We will wake up, eat breakfast provided by their staff, go to practice for the morning at the MSD gym until lunch,” Schwartz said of the camp’s routine. “In general, we will do basketball drills so the staff have a opportunity to teach us different skills. Between that, we will have a short break where the staff will give out fruits and water. After that, we practice some more. In the morning, we also will go to MSD’s weightlifting room and practice some acceleration and agility drills. That is also very beneficial to our skills for basketball. After the morning, we go to lunch.”
Johnson continued with the completion of the day.
“In the afternoon, we will do more drills until dinner. After dinner, we will do a three-on-three tournament. The older players are divided to five teams, then we go against each other! That part is the fun part during camp! Johnson said. “On Tuesday, we went to Gallaudet University to go on a tour at the Gallaudet campus. The tour leader explained a lot about the Gallaudet buildings, athletic program, education, etc! It was a good experience seeing Gallaudet! After that, we went to watch a WNBA game! We saw the Washington Mystics go against the Phoenix Mercury! It was a very exciting game!”
Campers were treated to a high-scoring WNBA game where the Mystics outlasted the Mercury 99-93. Two of the league’s best post players did battle as Washington’s Elena Delle Donne’s 33 points bested Phoenix’s Brittney Griner’s 30.
Johnson said a highlight of the game was meeting and taking a picture with Washington’s Emma Meesseman, who is hard of hearing. Some campers also got to shoot free throwers on the court after the game.
The two agreed the three-on-three games were one of the camp highlights. After practice, they remembered water balloon blind volleyball on the tennis courts as a cool way to unwind.
Johnson and Schwartz agreed their week together culminating in D.C. was well spent.
“Overall, it was a very great experience,” Johnson said. “I’m glad I went to NDGB!”