We recently welcomed native Floridian Kelly Goncalves to the 7-day training camp at VolleyCamp Hermosa. Based on her review, Kelly had a blast. She blogged about her experience and was kind enough to share her thoughts with us, published below with her permission.
By Kelly Goncalves
Traveling to California is an adventure regardless of where you go. The rumors are true, the weather really is perfect all the time and the traffic is terrible all the time. I didn't rent a car and lived by the beach for eight days during my stay and I recommend you do the same. Hermosa Beach is an hour bike ride south of Venice beach. It's a smoke-free beach with miles on end of beautiful deep sand, high waves, and plenty of volleyball courts to share. Bring your own ball and make some new friends there is always someone playing.
In late August I flew out to the West Coast to watch the AVP games and attend a 7-day training camp.
Since writing this post, the training camp has added a beginning class and a camp just for kids. When I attended they had programs just for adults at any skill level. There are several coaches, all of whom, at the time, were professionals competing and coaching. Each has a style of teaching, but they all knew the game and loved to teach.
Here’s a basic breakdown of Training Sessions throughout the week:
There are training sessions early in the morning, private sessions in the afternoon, and more skill-specific classes in the evenings. Each class is focused on one skill. After most classes, there is playing time to practice. Class typically starts with a warm-up, the skill is explained, and drills are then run. During these drills that simulate real-game situations, the coaches watch and give advice on an individual base. There is a lot of information shared and these 1 on 1 moments are some of my favorites.
During camp weeks there are fun activities after the evening session, too. I'm sure they will change and more will be added, but any game that they come up with is worth joining. I think of the nights we played a game called Ace – and that was awesome. The rules change as the night goes on, but it starts off like this: if the ball drops and no one touches it, that team has to chug a beer (or water if you don't drink). Both teams at the end of each point have to catch the ball because whoever wins it can start as soon as one player enters the court. It's hilarious....
The last night for campers everyone goes out together. There is karaoke night, there are comedy shows and local events. You'll be tired from training and hanging out. The afternoon nap is glorious.
The beach is walking distance from the hostel and a bike ride away from the other hotels. I made several friends, two of whom were staying in my hostel. We rented bikes and rode as far as we could go. There are mountains on each end of where we were staying. We didn't have time to reach them, but many go hiking while there. There’s biking, hiking, surfing, and several other water activities.
There are packages sold when I went. Campers received 7 training sessions, accommodations, and a goodie bag. You don't have to select accommodations if you have your own. There are packages for just training. Food isn't included, although surprisingly the local restaurants are very reasonably priced. Eating out for every meal can add up quickly, so visiting a local grocery store for snacks is recommended.
There are several locals that join the classes as well. The program has week-long sessions for travelers and gym-like memberships for those who live in the area. None of our training sessions were recorded, but you can watch several videos that add on to what is taught in class. Each camper gets a bag with goodies.
What's not included?
Food, flight, transportation, rentals such as bikes, surfboards, etc... The website has a FAQ that is very helpful when choosing flights. Remember it is California so expected everything to cost a little more. I was surprised at how cheap the local restaurants, cafes, and boutique shops were. Venice Beach and Manhattan Beach were not as cheap.
They sell pretty cheap sunblock and my hostel had a washer and dryer, so I kept packing to a minimum. I brought enough clothes to train and sleep in for four days, washed and reused. I ended up showering and changing between the morning and evening sessions, so four days didn't last very long. I only used my sand socks once. The weather is usually warm and the morning sessions usually end before the heat of the day fires up. The evening session usually starts an hour or two before the sun goes down, so it's almost always cool.
It is chilly at night if you're from Florida like me or anywhere humid and hot without a winter. Long sleeves are recommended. I didn't bring sneakers and got several blisters from walking around in flip-flops. I brought a 64-ounce water bottle with me, there are water fountains conveniently located outside my hostel. I do wish I had ice, but the water was chilled.
Many will take a week's vacation to part take in this camp. Others will move there to train in hopes of furthering their volleyball career. I had a blast. I love learning, I love training, and I loved seeing California. One week was long enough to learn, to be exhausted, and to enjoy the weather, the locals, and the food.
As you can imagine it is physically taxing. I recommend this camp for all. Be patient with yourself. It will be tiring, it will be frustrating, it will not be all about you. It's a group training. Go with the expectation to learn and the understanding that others are at a different level than you.
After coming back, I understood that having the right mindset throughout the week is important. There are a ton of classes and trying to do it all, learn it all, and master is it all is unrealistic.
After class, the coach would usually go out to eat with us. There we could ask more questions, seek advice, and have fun. The local area has a lot to see, eat, and experience. It was an unexpected surprise that we experienced some of it with them. That should be your expectation. To go and have fun!
Mark Burik, CEO, Founder, Coach, Professional Athlete
Every coach is passionate about the sport and Mark Burik is the driving force and the founder of VolleyCamp Hermosa. He’s tall, has really long arms and as expected is a lot of fun.
Mark created this training camp and YouTube channel to fill a gap. Before he started this, there wasn't any online information with a video explanation of the game.
Early in his volleyball career, he searched for information and training that now he and others provide. As you can image the program has changed and continues to evolve.
Mark’s program is the only one I have found that caters to adults from beginner level to professional! He remains passionate and committed to learning and coaching. He is excellent at explaining concepts differently and unique to each player.
Mark, like many other players, understands the emotional toll it takes and the dedication that comes with the sport. They address this before, during and after the camp. It's a tiring, draining and fun 7 days. The coaches, the local players, the travelers staying at the hostel all hang out. Meeting new people is a given. Learning new skills is expected. Seeing California and training is an experience.