Sports

Middle schoolers embrace volleyball ‘Madness’

AN ATHLETE USES a no-look approach to knocking the ball back over the net during the MUMS “March Madness” coed volleyball tournament in the Middlebury town gym on March 29.
Independent photo/Steve James

MIDDLEBURY — More than 100 Middlebury-area 6th-, 7th- and 8th-graders gathered in the Middlebury town gym this past Thursday and Friday, March 28 and 29, for intramural volleyball tournaments that capped a month of play and instruction in a sport that is growing in popularity in the community.

They were participating in a statewide coed “March Madness” youth volleyball program that is in its third year in Middlebury, according to Middlebury Union High School assistant volleyball coach Amanda Young.

A PLAYER USES a two-handed bump to return the ball during the MUMS “March Madness” coed volleyball tournament in the Middlebury town gym on March 29.
Independent photo/Steve James

Interest was so strong this year that organizers had to stage two program-ending tournaments, Young said, one for 6th-graders on Thursday and one for Middlebury Union Middle School students on the next afternoon.

“This year was epic,” Young said. “We had over 100 athletes participating.”

A FRONTLINE HITTER sends the ball over the net during the MUMS “March Madness” coed volleyball tournament in the Middlebury town gym on March 29.
Independent photo/Steve James

Young said many schools have participated around the state over the years in the March Madness program, which locally helped develop the varsity girls’ program that debuted at MUHS this past fall.

Around 15 high school players and what Young called “a handful of willing adults” helped the younger athletes learn the sport in after-school practices and both intramural and interscholastic games throughout the month.

A PLAYER LOOKS to set up a teammate for a hit during the MUMS “March Madness” coed volleyball tournament in the Middlebury town gym on March 29.
Independent photo/Steve James

“The focus is on introduction to the sport for our MUMS students and leadership development for the high-schoolers,” Young said.

The Middlebury program during the month hosted Brown River Middle School and traveled to St. Albans and Colchester, and on Saturday, March 30, the program also sent four teams to Essex to compete against squads from the other Vermont middle schools that are also participating in March Madness.

MEMBERS OF ONE of the MUMS teams that played in a coed “March Madness” tournament in the Middlebury town gym on March 29 celebrate a victory. The tournament capped a month-long instructional program.
Independent photo/Steve James

HIGH SCHOOL PLAYER Ida Blackwell explains some of the finer points of the game to MUMS players during the “March Madness” coed volleyball tournament in the Middlebury town gym on March 29.
Independent photo/Steve James

AN ATHLETE IN the March 29 MUMS “March Madness” coed volleyball tournament lines up a serve. The competition was part of a month-long instructional program.
Independent photo/Steve James

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