Volleyball horizons

Adams State/Mancos High, 4 Corners skills camp grows to Cortez

Danielle Waltman, who will be a senior at Montezuma-Cortez High School, gets into position to return the ball during a drill at the Adams State, Four Corners Volleyball Camp in the M-CHS Gym on Tuesday. Enlargephoto

Journal/Sam Green

Danielle Waltman, who will be a senior at Montezuma-Cortez High School, gets into position to return the ball during a drill at the Adams State, Four Corners Volleyball Camp in the M-CHS Gym on Tuesday.

A total of 75 kids from five towns filled gyms in Cortez for a chance to play high level volleyball.

It was an opportunity for middle and high school girls to enhance skills on the court, while taking their game to the proverbial next level.

For the ninth time, Adams State College volleyball coach and Mancos volleyball coach Ramona Shepherd partnered for the annual Four Corners Volleyball Camp.

What started out as 20 kids nine years ago, the camp has continuously grown.

Mancos High School wasn’t big enough anymore.

“It’s been a good camp,” Mortensen said. “I’ve maintained friendships with coach Shepherd and coach (Barbara) Chappell. We’ll keep coming back, as long as we’re invited.”

Cortez got involved as the host city. Six courts supported the camp this year, with three at Montezuma-Cortez High School and three at Cortez Middle School. Lady Panthers coach Barbara Chappell was ecstatic to be a part of the event.

“I coached with Lindy. She was my mentor. I started with her,” said Chappell about being Mortensen’s former assistant at M-CHS. “It’s nice to have this whole area’s top players on that top court. Just playing at a higher level. We’re excited to have it.”

Volleyball players from Mancos, and its rivals Dolores and Dove Creek were at the camp. But the level of play greatly increased this year with girls from Bayfield and M-CHS.

“It’s really good volleyball. The competition is just much better,” Shepherd said.

Mortensen, and her three ASC player assistants, conducted individual and team drills and coached matches. The M-CHS facilities allowed greater one-on-one coaching access for the players to take full advantage of.

“It’s been a good move. We have the room,” Shepherd said.

It was also nice for Mortensen to be in a familiar setting. She coached the M-CHS Lady Panthers with great success from 1996-2004 before taking the ASC job in 2005.

All the coaches feel the Four Corners Volleyball Camp will continue to grow and get better.

“We’d like to see more schools get involved,” Shepherd said. “We have the court space. It’s taken us nine years, but there’s still room for growth. I think we’re all open to that.”

With the overall strength of the camp, the ultimate goal is to strengthen the volleyball schools in Southwest Colorado. Shepherd has taken her Lady Bluejays to the CHSAA 2A state tournament for five straight years. She feels the camp has helped her squad immensely with regular-season success. Shepherd wants to see the same good fortune with Dolores, Dove Creek and M-CHS.

“We can be recognized as an area where everyone knows volleyball,” Shepherd said. “In the past, we’ve been looked down at. We had four teams (from Southwest Colorado) at state last year. That’s never happened before. That’s what we want. We want the kids as a whole in this area, to be better at sports.”

Bayfield compiled a 28-3 record last year in 3A, beating Dolores, Mancos and M-CHS on the way to state. It made this year’s camp that much more competitive between players.

With growth and success each year of the Four Corners Volleyball Camp, Mortensen, Shepherd and Chappell eventually may not have much room in Cortez.

Reach Bobby Abplanalp at bobbya@cortezjournal.com.

Emily Harris, who will be a junior at Dolores High School, returns the ball during the Adams State, Four Corners Volleyball Camp in the Montezuma-Cortez High School Gym on Tuesday. Enlargephoto

Journal/Sam Green

Emily Harris, who will be a junior at Dolores High School, returns the ball during the Adams State, Four Corners Volleyball Camp in the Montezuma-Cortez High School Gym on Tuesday.

Lindy Mortensen gives directions for a drill at the Adams State/Mancos High volleyball camp in the M-CHS Gym on Tuesday. Enlargephoto

Journal/Sam Green

Lindy Mortensen gives directions for a drill at the Adams State/Mancos High volleyball camp in the M-CHS Gym on Tuesday.