Hansen hopes to spread love of volleyball to Hampton youth

Thursday, April 25, 2019 | 11:18 PM

For anyone with kids in elementary or middle school who are looking to play a sport — and possibly fall in love with it — new Hampton coach Mike Hansen thinks volleyball could be their calling.

Hired in January from Pine-Richland, where he helped oversee successful junior varsity and middle school programs at a perennial volleyball powerhouse the past two years, Hansen is looking to spread his enthusiasm for the sport by running a free youth clinic in May and youth camps in June and July.

Hansen, his wife and assistant coach, Mary, and Hampton varsity players, are offering free volleyball clinics for girls in grades 4-6 May 16 and May 21 from 6-7:30 p.m. at Hampton Middle School. No registration is necessary.

“One of the things I want to do at Hampton is develop the youth program,” said Hansen, a graduate of Miami (Ohio). “There’s so many opportunities for them. Lacrosse is growing … a lot of these sports — soccer, softball, basketball — the girls start at a much younger age.”

Hansen grew up in the Cleveland area and spent many weekends at Lake Erie playing beach volleyball. He loves to talk about all the things volleyball can provide. His affinity for the sport not only led to a successful Division I career but also to his wife, who played at Cal (Pa.)

“We’re a volleyball family,” he said.

His daughter Jacqueline, who attends Kentucky, was a four-year letterwinner in volleyball and softball. Daughter Sarah is a junior volleyball player at Pine-Richland.

Hansen is a proponent of girls playing more than one sport and cited the need to develop a youth program for volleyball.

“It’s easy to run in the back yard and kick around a ball,” he said. “In volleyball, girls don’t start until sixth or seventh grade because they need the strength. There’s some things you can do, lower the net, lighter volleyballs. But it’s tough to get the best athletes in your program.”

But Hansen said once girls get a taste of the high-energy atmosphere and camaraderie, they’re hooked.

The stats back up Hansen’s claim. According to the Team USA Volleyball Website, it is No. 1 in the U.S. for girls team sports in terms of participation.

In addition to Hampton, Hansen coaches 16-year-olds at Pitt Elite Club Volleyball. The work in the offseason, he said, is key.

“You don’t become a successful team or player in August, September, October. You need the girls playing in (November through May). That’s when you become a good volleyball player. So you want them to fall in love with the game, and then play club and explore opportunities outside the school.”

The Hampton program is coming off three straight playoff appearances, including a WPIAL runner-up finish and state playoff berth in 2016. But the team lost major talent, notably Pitt recruit Anastasia Russ, whom Hansen said was supportive of him taking over the program.

As for the rest of the team, lots of hard work remains.

“We had a team meeting, I met all the girls. I haven’t had an open gym yet, so I haven’t had a chance to look at their volleyball, but it’s a great group of kids and they’re all super excited, so it was all really positive,” Hansen said.

Hansen also is running a middle school volleyball camp for girls entering 7th and 8th grade 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 17-19 at Hampton Middle School. The cost is $60, and all proceeds benefit the Hampton Girls Volleyball Boosters. The camp will focus on teaching the fundamentals. Athletes registered by June 1 get a camp T-shirt.

All girls entering 4th, 5th and 6th grade can attend the youth volleyball camp 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. July 8-10. The cost is $60, and all proceeds benefit the Hampton Girls Volleyball Boosters. This camp will focus on introducing the game of volleyball in a fun atmosphere. Athletes registered by June 1 will get a camp T-shirt.

Email Hansen at hansenmm@zoominternet.net for more information.


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