POWHATAN – When it comes to volleyball, summertime in Powhatan has Momentum again.
After it was sidelined in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Momentum Volleyball Club is back in action as it continues to hold camps at the Pocahontas Landmark Center this summer and therefore enable student-athletes from Powhatan County and surrounding communities to not just further develop and strengthen their volleyball skills, but come together as one community.
“It’s really great to get back with team members,” said Goochland High School rising junior Nicole Brown, “and it’s really great to bond and work on what we missed during COVID.”
“It is wonderful to be back in the gym,” said Momentum Club Director and Powhatan High School head varsity volleyball coach Cindy Bryant, “and we’re really thankful that Powhatan has this new facility here at the Landmark Center that we can get in and play.”
In her first year at Momentum, Amelia County volleyball player Emma Caudill during a camp on Thursday spoke to really enjoying the environment.
“I think the girls are a great group of girls,” Caudill said, “and I’ll definitely be returning.”
“I like the energy that everyone brings,” added Powhatan County player Colby Wright, who was attending her second camp in her first year at Momentum, “and all the spirit.”
To Bryant, seeing the strong number of local players is so exciting, because when Momentum started six years ago, the club’s vision, she said, was that “you didn’t have to travel to the city to play quality volleyball – that you could stay in the rural county and we could provide you with the opportunity.”
In addition to the players who have come to the program from nearby, Bryant said they do have athletes from Richmond who sometimes come to Momentum.
“I like how people from all around come to this one camp, and you just get to see all these other people to get you ready for the high school season,” Wright said, “because it could be people that you’ve never played against and they could be really good and help you get better.”
With Thursday’s five-hour all-skills camp, players from the Powhatan, Amelia, Goochland, Louisa counties and beyond reinforced their fundamentals and worked on every skill, from setting to hitting to playing defense, no matter their position on their travel, club or varsity team.
Bryant pointed to the club’s focus on developing the whole player and not specializing.
“You have to kind of specialize on your competition court with schools…we understand that,” Bryant said, “but training-wise, we think it’s really positive to keep athletes playing every position and learning every skill; it makes them more well-rounded...”
Brown described how she went from playing at the middle position to setter to right side hitter because of Coach Cindy Bryant.
“And I really appreciate that,” Brown said, adding that Momentum has helped her mentally.
“I was really quiet, and she really helped bring out my talking on the court,” Brown said of Coach Bryant, “which really helps you all-around in volleyball and life.”
“Communication’s a very important skill to have in volleyball – it’s a mental game – and I think that, definitely, I got that from this camp,” Caudill said.
“She definitely works on making sure the team plays as a team, and you focus on your attitude as well,” Phoebe Heath, who is from Colonial Heights, added of Coach Bryant.
At the camp, Wright spoke to “definitely seeing all the joy that you get when you get a point – or if someone messes up, everyone goes out and helps them; it’s really nice.”
“Whenever you have people that you can feel like you’re family around” – Caudill said – “I feel like it makes you a way better player.”
Momentum has held clinics and camps for the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels so far this year and will close out the summer stretch in late July with a middle school and JV prep camp as well as an upper-level JV/varsity prep camp to help the girls get ready for team tryouts in August.
The Club’s staff includes Bryant, Brad Russell and Jason Musick and will also include Powhatan varsity volleyball assistant coach Doug Gagnon, who will help coach one of Momentum’s travel teams.
“I can’t explain the joy that we feel to be back on the court,” Bryant said. “I think the players are excited as well.”
“I think the coaches being passionate about it, too, really helps me like it more,” Heath added.
One of Momentum’s core philosophies is positively impacting every player that the coaches meet every single day.
“That’s huge – it’s a huge task, but our goal is to do that, to make a point of – seeing the player with a long face – and really reach out to her and figure out why and try to get a smile before she leaves our gym that day,” Bryant said. “And sometimes heavy life stuff is going on in girls’ lives and you can’t produce a smile, but the impact of reaching out and following up when tough life stuff is going on, I think that’s one thing that Momentum has become known for through the years.”
Bryant emphasized the importance of “just really trying to let the players know that they’re loved and cared for, not just on our court…that we care for their lives, not just their athletic skills.”
“I really think Cindy…helps you personally and not just winning,” Brown said of Coach Bryant. “I think her main goal is to make you the best person you can be on the court and off the court.”