As the Cayman Islands braces for another regional showcase, volleyball development is in greater focus.
Cayman hosted two international coaches this month, the latest being Augusto Sabbatini. The Brazilian, who hails from Sao Paulo, has been here for the last four weeks dealing with all levels of players from the junior to senior level. Sabbatini, 49, is a certified Federation International de Volleyball coach and he capped off his visit with a three-day indoor seminar at the University College of the Cayman Islands multipurpose hall with members of the national women’s team.
Kennedy McGowan serves as the vice president of the Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation and spoke about Sabbatini’s visit.
“Augusto was assigned to us by the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation,” McGowan said. “This is his last week and he is going to visit John Gray High School and Clifton Hunter High School. He has been to many of the schools here, like Cayman Academy, St. Ignatius and Cayman Prep. He saw our junior program on Saturday mornings at Royal Palms. He is here to do a full evaluation of our volleyball at all levels.
“Juan Cartagena of Puerto Rico was here last year doing the same thing and he is following up on that. He wants to see if there’s development within Cayman volleyball, both in skills and participation. From here, he goes to Jamaica for a month before coming back in July. NORCECA will be sending him back this summer to check up on our progress.”
The UCCI sessions focused on technical aspects such as shot placement, footwork and positioning. Many notable talents were on hand from young prodigies Krista Ebanks and Chante Smith-Johnson to experienced veterans Anita Lansdell and Stacy-Ann Kelly and basketball stars Carmen Picate and Kristen Kuzyk. All were overseen by local federation officials like Keith Higgins, McGowan and Davison Ruwende.
Efforts to focus on volleyball development comes ahead of Cayman hosting the opening stage for the 2014 NORCECA Beach Volleyball Circuit on April 25-28, with visiting teams expected to arrive from April 23.
In addition to Sabbatini, Cayman welcomed American Kalyn Klaess to boost local volleyball. Klaess, 24, put on her Champs Volleyball Camp at Public Beach last week for boys and girls aged 7-14. The former University of Rhode Island star had help from past team mate Kayla Wilson, 23.
Klaess said she hopes to stage camps here on a regular basis.
“I hope to partner with a few local charities to give back to the community with donations, giveaways, cross promotions and sponsorships,” Klaess said. “I hope to make Champs a full-time endorsed camp by the federation and partner with the Department of Tourism, Ministry of Sports and of course, schools around the island to partake in physical education programs. The potential partnerships are endless.”
Wilson, who played alongside Klaess for three years before graduating in 2012, said she had a great time here.
“We had a blast with the kids, we’ve seen them want to get better and improve,” Wilson said. “It’s so great to give back to this community and we absolutely want to come back and do more camps.”