This article originally appeared in the fall 2015 Harker Quarterly.
Held in the middle school gym, Harker’s wrestling camp was staffed by experienced and dedicated coaches who taught camp attendees new moves and proper technique. A notable returning mentor was Anthony Robles, the 2011 NCAA national champion, who was awarded an ESPY for Best Male Athlete with a Disability. He was a source of inspiration for many students at the camp. “Working with [Robles] one-on-one was an honor,” said Arianna Pinella, a junior at Andrew Hill High School. “He told me the little mistakes that could get better.”
The camp also gave Pinella an opportunity to learn new moves to expand her repertoire as a competitive wrestler. “I really like meeting the new coaches, learning the new moves, putting my name out there and just wanting to get better,” she said.
Camp directors Karriem Stinson – who is also Harker’s wrestling coach – and Shaun Henebry designed the wrestling camp to appeal to lovers of the sport. This year, each camp day was broken into three sessions. The morning session focused on technical aspects of the sport, “so we’ll show them a couple of moves, we’ll run through, do a lot of technical stuff,” Stinson explained. In the second session, the coaches reviewed principles and techniques, and then taught additional techniques. The afternoon portion of the camp consisted primarily of live wrestling and practice.
Veronica Capellino, a junior at Prospect High School, had previously attended another Harker off-season camp and enjoyed the coaching so much that she returned this summer. “They just made me feel more confident about everything I was doing,” she said. “Just in these last couple of days, I feel like I’ve gotten so much better.”
Student athletes seeking to improve their overall fitness headed to the summer TRX
suspension training camp, where they learned new fitness techniques to help them prepare for the upcoming sports season. The TRX system was developed by Navy SEALs to be highly customizable and portable, using the trainer’s body weight to build strength and endurance.
“TRX camp was different this year because we had a cardio room and a lot of new workout equipment,” said Karriem Stinson, camp director and certified TRX training coach. “The students used battle ropes and speed harnesses to improve their overall speed.”
Each day of the camp consisted of a 15-minute warmup session, after which campers split into two groups – one working on cardio and the other starting on the TRX equipment. “We would rotate each group so that both got to work in both rooms,” Stinson said. “We also used a vertex machine to test their vertical [strength] and used the climbing rope to help their overall upper body strength.”
Stinson has received a positive reaction from the camp, and said he will be working with the Harker physical education department to bring TRX to more students. “I felt many got stronger this summer,” he said, “and I have already received emails asking if we will be doing TRX during the school year.”
Harker’s basketball camp, held in late June in the middle school gym, emphasized the fundamentals of the one of the world’s most popular sports. This year, the camp was held in two daily sessions: a morning session for boys and a coed afternoon session. Students learned and practiced essential skills such as dribbling, passing, ball handling and shooting.
Camp attendees benefited from the instruction of John “Sarge” Siers, a veteran teacher and coach of more than 30 years. A longtime friend of Butch Keller, upper school head and also a successful basketball coach, Siers’ experience includes coaching at two NCAA Final Fours, coaching 32 players to Division I scholarships and working with many NBA players. His coaching philosophy is to encourage his students to have fun so that they will be more open to learning. Improving fundamental skills, he believes, helps the young athletes get more enjoyment out of playing.
Volleyball enthusiasts of varying skill levels in grades 4-9 attended the summer volleyball camp to improve their game and learn new skills. Top-level instruction helped students gain the edge they need in the fall sports season. Camp director Vonda Reid, a club director for the Stingray Volleyball Club and a coach at Harker for more than 15 years, lent her years of expertise to help the attendees get the most out of their week at the camp.
As always, fun was a top priority, with students grouped by age and skill levels. Students began every day with a dynamic warmup period that included stretches and ball control Photo by Stefan Armijo drills. Afterward, they rotated to stations set up to train individual skills such as passing, setting, hitting and serving. Students also worked on team formations and spent much of their time playing live games, a favorite activity among campers.
One of Harker’s most popular summer offerings, the soccer camp covered two campuses and provided players of many skill levels with a wide variety of exercises and activities. Players ages 6-9 attended camp at the middle school campus, while players ages 10- 16 attended camp at the upper school.
Camp director Shaun Tsakiris, a longtime Harker soccer coach who has spent years building the camp, worked to create a fun and challenging experience for all participants. Coaches from the De Anza Force soccer club were on hand to work individually with players as they honed their skills and developed new ones.
A typical day at the soccer camp started with a warmup that included agility and psychomotor training, before moving on to individual skill stations, such passing, dribbling and the various elements of shooting. The soccer ball is incorporated into exercises whenever possible. Other activities included futsal (indoor soccer), practicing one-on-one situations and game play.
Warm summer weather provided the perfect environment for this year’s water polo camp, which emphasized key fundamental skills of this long-running Olympic sport, such as eggbeater kicking, passing and shooting.
Because many of the camp’s attendees were new to the sport, teaching the fundamentals was crucial. The camp was run by two water polo veterans: Harker water polo coach Allie Lamb has more than 15 years of experience with the sport, playing with top volleyball coaches such as Rich Corso and Ricardo Azevedo. Co-director Ted Ujifusa started playing water polo in the 1960s and was a member of the first University of California, Berkeley team to win an NCAA championship.
Aside from learning rudimentary skills, the campers had fun playing informal pickup games and spending time in the water as a respite from the summer heat.
Casual swimmers and enthusiasts both attended Harker’s summer swim school, held from mid-June to early August at the upper school’s Singh Aquatic Center. Staffed with qualified and attentive instructors, the swim school offered lessons to swimmers of virtually every skill level, both individually and in groups. Alex Stoeb, a student at Millbrook Elementary School, found the swim school beneficial in refreshing his knowledge of key swimming skills. “I kind of forgot everything,” he said, “so I wanted to come back and re-learn it again.” He also enjoyed receiving training in freestyle swimming and backstroke.