Angie Charchalis and her eighth-grade teammates watched the high school volleyball team play several times this year. They were impressed.
"I hope one day we can look like them," she said. "They're a lot better than we are."
Charchalis and 31 other middle school volleyball players were at Moffat County High School Wednesday night learning from the high school players and staff they watched in the fall.
"Coach (Becky Howlett) can kind of be intimidating when you first see her," Charchalis said. "But she's nice, and she really knows what she's talking about."
Howlett hosted a camp last week for fifth- and sixth-graders, and this week the three-day clinic was for seventh- and eighth-graders.
"I see that almost every sport is available for youth in Craig except volleyball," Howlett said. "This clinic is to prepare the girls for the high school program and to get them excited about the sport."
Howlett said what she has noticed with the middle school athletes is that they haven't grasped the team concept of volleyball yet.
"It's really just six individuals out there," she said "They come into middle school without playing before, so all they know are the basic fundamentals."
There will be camps offered this summer for the freshmen-to-be, but the clinic is designed like a high school practice so they'll know what to expect.
"I'm not going to sell a camp or our program to the girls," Howlett said. "I only want them out if they want to be here. So we try to give them a clear understanding of what it will be like with the clinic."
With the high school volleyball team making it past the district tournament for the first time since 1988 last season, the traditionally struggling program has reason to be upbeat.
"This clinic gives me an idea for next year," Howlett said. "I definitely see some raw talent and diamonds in the rough."
For now, Charchalis just wants to play teams other than Hayden, Meeker, Rangely and Steamboat Springs. "It will be nice to have more competition," she said. "We always play the same people in middle school."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 970-824- 7031 ext. 211 or firstname.lastname@example.org