An old cliché among high school football coaches is that championships are won in the summer, not the fall.
Which means, a summer full of weight training, conditioning and skill building are the foundations for winning once the season rolls around.
Although Arnold Stonebrink is a volleyball coach, he’s apparently adopted the gridiron strategy.
He has aspiring volleyball players of all ages and abilities scheduled to train in a series of summer camps.
High school-aged players, those who will be contending for a spot on Lady Longhorn teams next fall, opened training June 1 in All-American individual and team camps in Wilson Dome.
Training alongside the Lady Horn hopefuls were Miami High School players.
Campers trained in morning, afternoon and evening sessions for three consecutive days.
Stonebrink calls the training “intensive” and hopes it will help the campers become better players next season.
Also on the summer volleyball agenda is a youth camp hosted by Stonebrink and his staff and sponsored by the Town Parks and Recreation Department.
“This is the first time that the high school is putting on a camp through parks and recreation,” said town recreation coordinator Joe Harris.
The camp, which is open to students in third- to eighth-grade, will be held June 29 to July 1 in the old Payson High School gymnasium.
“We can’t use the (Wilson) dome because the floor is being resurfaced,” Stonebrink said.
Sessions will be held each day from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and noon to 2 p.m.
On hand to assist Stonebrink will be fellow coaches Jayden Walden, Trevor Creighton, Shelly Creighton and some varsity players.
The curriculum will include the skills of setting, hitting, serving, receiving, blocking, digging and passing.
Jump training will also be taught.
With 30 players already registered for the camp, Stonebrink is elated with the turnout.
“In past years, attendance has been sparse so we are really excited,” he said.
Harris and the coach are urging those interested in participating to register as soon as possible.
“If you want to sign up, do so at the Parks, Recreation and Tourism office located at Green Valley Park,” Harris said.
The fee is $30, which includes a camp T-shirt.
Also on the summer volleyball scene is the annual Arizona Coaches Association North vs. South All-Star game to be played at 3 p.m., Saturday, June 20 at Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher.
At the conclusion of last season, coaches selected Stonebrink to coach the North team. Amelia Hotsoi, Window Rock’s head coach, will assist him.
On his celestial squad from Payson High are Jenna Robertson, Cydney Figueroa and Laughlin Potvin.
In addition to earning all-star status, among the highest honors a prep player can receive, the trio were voted last season to the All-East first team.
Robertson, a middle hitter, dominated opponents at the net recording 982 spikes, 358 kills and 57 blocks.
In addition to her heady play there, she excelled on other areas of the court as evidenced by her 70 aces and superb serve-receiving.
The standout play of Potvin, a senior last fall, astonished Stonebrink.
“She was perhaps the biggest surprise,” he said. “She wasn’t even a varsity player (as a junior), but led the team in serve-receiving.”
She also recorded a hitting mark of .178, higher than any player Stonebrink has coached during his tenure at PHS.
Figueroa advances to the all-star game as the Lady Horns’ three-year starting setter.
Her responsibility all her career was to quarterback the team by passing and setting up fellow players.
She finished her senior year with 182 digs, 834 kills and was the Lady Horns’ best server.
One of her finest matches might have been Payson’s 3-2 state tournament opening round win over Fountain Hills.
During one stretch she dished out 11 assists.
Stonebrink said he expects Robertson to possibly continue her career on the collegiate level.