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Michael and Jennifer Mickenberg used their volleyball know-how to teach local youths the basics during a volleyball camp held on RAF Mildenhall last week.

Michael and Jennifer Mickenberg used their volleyball know-how to teach local youths the basics during a volleyball camp held on RAF Mildenhall last week. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

Volleyball instructors Michael and Jennifer Mickenberg were aiming for the basics when they held a volleyball camp last week at RAF Mildenhall’s Youth Center. The husband-and-wife team went over essential volleyball fundamentals with local youth during the three-day camp, which was their first at the center. Michael has 10 years’ experience coaching girls varsity volleyball, most recently at Lakenheath High School. And Jennifer has been his long-time volunteer assistant coach and also has experience as a player.

Why did you want to conduct this camp?

Jennifer: We both love volleyball. Michael is a professional volleyball referee. He officiated for the [RAF Mildenhall Youth Programs] volleyball games last season, and we kind of noticed that the basics in the players weren’t there.

Michael: They didn’t know the rules of volleyball.

What do you like most about the camp, so far?

Michael: Seeing the improvement in the attitude of the girls and guys.

Jennifer: You’ll see some players afraid of the ball, but then at the end of the practice they’re down there bumping the ball.

Do you teach the students any killer spikes or high-flying blocks?

Michael: Nope. Nothing like that, it’s back to the basics. I show them that volleyball is 85 percent mental and 15 percent physical. They realize that they have to do a lot more thinking than actual running and moving.

Jennifer: You have to build up their confidence step by step.

So, there aren’t any drills like cross-court hitting, six-touch pepper or perhaps the dead fish drill?

Michael: Not at all.

Have you seen any youths who might be a volleyball prodigy? Is there some potential here?

Michael: There are several older kids in [Youth Programs] that could be good players.

What’s the goal of the camp? What do you want the kids to accomplish?

Michael: Have a good time.

Jennifer: We are very positive. We’ll say, “That’s not quite right, but let’s do it again.”

Michael: We also have them learn not to give up, because we live in a world of competitors.


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