If it's not the largest volleyball camp in the entire United States, it's one of them. And it's right here in Guntersville.
The Guntersville High volleyball team hosted the Munciana Team Camp this week at Jonathan Hyde's Supreme Courts facility in Warrenton.
There were 2 days with 24 varsity teams followed by 2 days with 24 JV teams followed by 2 days with 24 middle school teams. That's 72 different teams playing under one roof over the course of a week. It was still going on with
There are 3 basketball courts at Supreme Courts and 2 volleyball games can be held on a single court. So there were 6 games going on almost continuously over the course of the camp. Curtains separate each court.
The camp combines skills instruction with tournament play to give teams a complete camp experience.
Guntersville coach Jimmy Latta said 2 things make it possible. Supreme Courts has the space to hold such a massive camp.
“It’s a tremendous resource to our community, not just for volleyball but also for basketball,” Latta said. “It’s home to the Sure Shot Basketball Academy and Impact Volleyball.”
The other component is renowned volleyball coach Mike Lingenfelter and his staff of the Munciana Volleyball Club who are willing to make the trip from Muncy, Indiana, to Guntersville to instruct. While it’s known as the “Munciana Team Camp,” Guntersville’s girls actually call it “the Coach Mike Camp.”
With so many teams coming in from out of town, the camp could be considered a tourism event for the city.
"We've got teams staying in hotels," Latta said. "We've got teams renting houses. They're eating in local restaurants."
With so much volleyball packed into such a short time frame, it's a test of endurance for the players. Girls could be seen sitting down, resting tired legs between matches this week.
"It's demanding," Latta said. "It's 2 nights of back-to-back-to-back games."
Guntersville has been holding the Munciana camp for about 12 years now. But it had modest beginnings.
"At first, it was just Mike coming in and instructing our girls," Latta said.
Then Guntersville started inviting a few other nearby schools to attend to share his advice. It exploded into its current form when Supreme Courts opened.
"It went from 6 teams to 14 teams to 24 teams," Latta said.
Latta said Coach Mike could have been successful as a Division 1 coach had he chosen that route. But he enjoys developing young talent.
"He's the guy D-1 coaches go to see when they need a player," Latta said.
The Guntersville girls had their own individual skills workouts plus their fireworks sale before heading into the Munciana camp. Most of them will get next week off. It's All Star Sports Week in Montgomery and Latta will be attending that. Wildcat Lauren Mark will be playing in the North-South All Star volleyball game.
"The very next week, we're going to Indiana to participate in a camp in Muncy," Latta said.
He said the team remains a work in progress. But they're a fun bunch to be around and it promises to be a fun season.
"We've still got a ways to go," Latta said. "We've got more conditioning to do to get ready for the season too."
The season will open in late August.
Guntersville opened the Munciana camp with wins over Plainview and Appalachian. Then in the 3rd round, they met Jasper.
Jasper won the 5A state championship last year and was the 6A state runner-up the year before that. Guntersville held its own against Jasper in their first set, falling 28-26.
"The road to state goes through Jasper, so it was good to play them in camp," Latta said.
The loss to Jasper but Guntersville in the consolation bracket of the "Gold" tournament. The Wildcats then won out by defeating Bob Jones and Oneonta.
Other bracket winners were Jasper, Addison, Geraldine, Plainview and Hayden.
Local varsity teams participating in the Munciana camp included Albertville, Boaz and DAR.
Latta thanked the sponsors who helped make the camp possible. He said Brittany Lemons Case and Laney Hardin were a big help with the camp, as were Guntersville's team parents.
The fireworks fundraiser was a success, Latta said.
"We had our second highest sales year ever," he said. That helps buy the "spirit pack" apparel the girls will need and will also cover tournament fees for Guntersville volleyball in grades 7-12 for the coming season.
"We're starting the season in the black financially, which is very good," Latta said. "With the help of the Booster Club, we will start the season in new uniforms."