SVA summer season takes off

The South Valley Athletics (SVA) summer season for kids has arrived. Tom Perkins, Randi Ross, Amy Drescher, and Tara Chrestman led a volleyball camp at Riverside Community Church of God that spanned the final two Saturdays in June for grades three through six. Players were able to get some exercise, learn fundamentals, and scrimmage.

“It’s a great group of girls. Volleyball is such a fun sport. This group of kids listens really well. This group did everything I asked them to do. They were smiling and having fun. I only get them for two hours. By the end they were already making improvements,” Perkins said.

Perkins, who has been involved with SVA for 15 years - coaching his own kids, moving on to coach basketball and soccer, being a member of the board, and everything else in between - led the SVA volleyball camp.

“We got 19 kids signed up. We do skills and drills, and at the end, we do a scrimmage. We try to keep it fun, keep it popping, and keep the girls yelling, hooting, and hollering. Our goal is to teach kids how to play the sport but mostly, how to enjoy playing the sport. Most of us [at SVA] grew up playing sports, and it was really a fun part of our lives. We made lots of friends; we learned good life skills, and that’s what we want for the kids.”

The summer ahead will be a busy one for the youth and parents in Cottage Grove who are involved with SVA.

“This is the first SVA camp of the summer. SVA has been known for three sports: volleyball, soccer, and basketball. We’ve now branched out into doing a cheer camp, and we’ve thrown together a pickleball camp for this summer,” Perkins said. “This summer, we have a whole bunch of stuff. We’re partnering with the Health Hub, the library, and the city.”

Looking forward, SVA said it plans to expand its local athletic offerings, focusing on adults in the community as well as local area kids and youth.

 “We are going to do improv in the park on Tuesdays in the afternoons,” said Perkins. “We are doing an open gym on Fridays at Harrison Elementary School; we are doing a basketball camp - and the Health Hub is offering stuff – Monday through Thursday for kids five and up. We are going to do SCORES soccer for adults. All that stuff you can find on our webpage. You can go to our Facebook page, it’s all on there.

“There is much work that goes on behind the scenes in order to pull off an SVA camp or event. They have a board that helps determine sign-ups, coordination, organizing locations, etc. I’m not into the logistics, all the paperwork you got to do... That kind of stuff is not really my thing. My thing is, you give me a bag full of balls, a whistle, and a court, and we can make sure these kids have a good time and have fun. The joy is when you get out on the court, all that other stuff goes away.”

Pulling off all the different events that the community sees SVA managing takes a lot of time and energy. SVA volunteers are what makes it possible.

“We have the best group of volunteers I’ve ever worked with at SVA. It always is a struggle to get volunteers, but Cottage Grove is a unique community,” said Perkins. “There are a lot of people here willing to step up if they are asked the right way or approached. Parents will often volunteer for their kids. If we have enough volunteers, who knows what we could do?

“There is nothing like it when you see somebody do something they thought they couldn’t do,” Perkins concluded. “‘Oh, I can’t get the ball over the net,’ or ‘Oh, I can’t make a free throw,’ they’ll say. Then the first time they [do it and] look at you, and you see their face just light up, that’s a gift. That’s why we do it.”