Going for a kill

Guntersville’s Lauren Mark attempts a kill against Jasper during the gold tournament of the Guntersville High School Munciana Team Camp. Mark will play for the North in next week’s Alabama North-South All-Star Game.

GUNTERSVILLE — The annual Guntersville High School Munciana Team Camp featured volleyball instruction and play for varsity, junior varsity and middle school teams this week at Supreme Courts.

The 24-team varsity field included nine AHSAA State Tournament participants from 2018 — Albertville, Providence Christian, Buckhorn, Danville, Bob Jones, Jasper, Cedar Bluff, Geraldine and Addison.

Jasper in 5A and Addison in 2A won State championships.

“It’s just people who love volleyball and volleyball is big in their communities, and they want to come here and continue to grow,” Guntersville head coach Jimmy Latta said.

“The combination of skills during the day and games at night is just intriguing to a lot of coaches and a lot of players. They really enjoy the format.”

Mike Lingenfelter and his staff members from Munciana Volleyball, which is headquartered in Yorktown, Indiana, started conducting camps in Guntersville before Latta joined the Wildcat faculty and coaching staff.

“It’s been 15 years or better they’ve been coming down, and Mike’s staff just grows every year,” Latta said.

“Used to it was just he and one assistant and then maybe his family would come with him, and he would just work with our kids, our middle school and high school.

“Several years ago, we just decided hey, let’s share this instruction that has helped us for so long … let’s share it with the other schools in our community.”

The camp then expanded to eight varsity teams in Wildcat Gym. It then increased to 24 varsity teams and some junior varsity squads in Wildcat Gym.

“When this facility became available, I talked to Mike and said let’s blow this thing up. Let’s see who we can get,” Latta said.

“It goes without saying what Mike’s name is. He’s not Coach K [Duke’s Mike Krzyzewksi] or [Kentucky’s] Coach [John] Calipari, but he’s who Coach K or Coach Calipari would call if they needed a stud player, to give you a basketball analogy.

“If Mike were coaching [volleyball] at the college level he’d give those guys a run for their money, but his love is high school kids and young kids, developing the game. It shows in how he handles these camps.

“I’ve learned a ton, just about everything I know, from Mike and his staff. We’re very blessed to have him come to good old Guntersville, Alabama, once a year.”

Latta’s camp goal for the Wildcats was daily improvement.

“We don’t have to change the world in three days,” he said. “Even though we aspire to win every tournament we go to, winning team camp was not our goal.

“We wanted to figure out as much as we could find out about us, like adversity — how are we going to respond when we get hit? That’s probably the biggest thing in volleyball, because it has so many waves of emotion. The quicker you can rebound from adversity the better off you’re going to be.”

Latta thanked Guntersville JV coach Brittany Case and Guntersville seventh grade girls coach Laney Hardin for their assistance in helping conduct the camp.

“Our parents provide meals not only for our kids all day, but for the Munciana coaching staff and training staff,” Latta said. “It’s huge the support that we’re able to get to make this thing work.

“Thanks to the fans coming out and supporting it. A little admission charge helps to pay the bills and keep this great place going.

“This is a great thing for our city. We had a handful of teams that rented hotel rooms multiple nights, rented houses. They ate in our restaurants and they shopped downtown during downtimes. This facility, in addition to this camp, is awesome for this community.

“Sometimes it’s kind of hard to measure economic impact, but drive by here just about any day of the week, and when you see 100 cars out here, those people have to buy gas, those people have to buy food. They’re going to go somewhere and spend some money.

“Kudos to [owner] Jonathan Hyde and what he does here at Supreme Courts. We’re thankful he gives us an opportunity to host this massive, massive camp.”

The 2019 season starts Aug. 22.

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