One summer, while hosting his annual basketball camp as the head boys’ coach at Kearny High School, Bill Mullins came to the realization he needed to create a similar opportunity for the volleyball players he coached in the spring.
“I was doing a basketball camp because I was the basketball coach, but we had nothing for the volleyball kids,” Mullins, the longtime head coach in boys’ sports at Kearny, said. “There wasn’t the Harrison League going on and you didn’t have the courts in West Hudson Park. So we decided to do a camp because there was a lot of interest building for volleyball.”
Eight years after its debut, the Kearny Volleyball Camp for boys and girls aged 10-18 remains a rarity in North Jersey and continues to grow. Mullins completed his eighth edition earlier this month and it has more than doubled in size since its beginning.
What pleased Mullins the most wasn’t just the number of participants — more than 75 this year — but how many of them chose to stick around to play pickup games in the Kearny High School gym following the conclusion of the three-hour camp session.
“It’s amazing we have more kids than ever getting into games and playing and really working well together,” Mullins said. “After camp ended they were staying in the gym, they wanted to keep on playing. You can see the interest is there.”
Mullins credited the work of his staff — Kearny assistants Jaqueline Mullins and John Policano — as well as Julissa David and former Kardinal players Diego Rondon and Aaron Mantilla for helping run the four-day camp.
Over the course of the camp, the coaches focused on developing basic fundamentals and skills while also participating in 3-on-3, 4-on-4 and 6-on-6 games.
“We’re just trying to provide an outlet where for a week some of the kids can play volleyball, learn the basics and some of the skills, and play some games and have fun,” Mullins said. “They give the sport a chance and they see they really enjoy it. It’s good for the kids to have opportunities.”
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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer
Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (nj.com, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)