While the Mexico high school volleyball program has been busy this entire offseason with events like their weekly summer league games, this week it was the youth athletes who took center stage.

"With these younger athletes we've framed this camp to build from the ground up. We started with footwork in every aspect of the game. We've also done a lot of hitting, passing and setting, but it all starts with the footwork," said Mexico varsity volleyball coach Shayla Cox. "Then we go up and work on where the hips and hands should be and go from there."

Because Cox wants every level of this program to be on the same page, many of the technical aspects to this approach directly resemble what the varsity is doing. The difference from one group to the next was the techniques employed to impart this same wisdom.

"With the younger kids we definitely play more games because their attention span is not very long. So we've done a lot of different drills for a shorter period of time," Cox said. "With the older kids we've implemented a lot more strategy and emphasized the cognitive aspect of the game. That's been a big step for our middle school program, preparing them for the high school program. We've also worked on the life-lessons aspect. Things that will make them successful in life after their time with us."

When it comes to the issue of self-improvement, Cox feels like it's important to start instilling these lessons at an early age. That way kids are indoctrinated to ideas like hard work and fundamentals while avoiding all that various pitfalls that stem from a lack of preparation.

"We just had a game where the girls were determined to win at all costs. It's the little things in life that add up to the big things that makes people successful," said Cox. "That's why we start with the little things, like the X's and O's. Then we build up from there so by the time they're at the varsity level all of that are just something they do naturally. When your young things like respect have to be taught to you, but by the time they leave high school these kids will have that type of character."

Even though this event was open to students entering kindergarten through eighth grade, they were divided into three different age groups. This meant that athletes in kindergarten through second grade trained from 8:00-9:00 a.m. and players in third through sixth grade were on hand from 9:00-10:00 a.m. at a cost of $20. The seventh and eighth graders then took the court from 10:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m. and were charged $30.

"(The varsity has) been practicing once a week through June and have been playing every Thursday over in Hallsville against four or five other teams," said Cox. "We'll then take a few weeks off. We have a couple players going to a (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) camp the second week in July. Then we have about 20 players going down to the lake to train at the end of July."

As for that summer league, it came to a close on Thursday evening in a tournament format with the Lady Bulldogs winning their initial matchup 2-0. The squad then won it's next two bouts to claim the title.

"Starting out as the second seed in the bracket, we went 3-0. We beat North Calloway and, after losing the first set pretty bad, the girls rallied together and came back to beat Hallsville in three sets," Cox said. "We met the Lady Indians again in the championship game and won in two sets. It was a solid night of volleyball. Going hard is what we have been focusing on and they left it all on the floor last night. We are so proud of the girls and am looking forward to what this team is going to do in the fall."

High school volleyball practice for Mexico starts July 31st.