Herald Photo / Dean Hockney
LEADING THE WAY  — Western Head Volleyball Coach Sacha Burkett talks to her squad during a time-out last season. Burkett will host a clinic through the Kokomo Volleyball Academy later this month.
Herald Photo / Dean Hockney LEADING THE WAY — Western Head Volleyball Coach Sacha Burkett talks to her squad during a time-out last season. Burkett will host a clinic through the Kokomo Volleyball Academy later this month.
In Howard County, volleyball is not on top of the list when it comes to successful athletic programs. 

Case in point: a county team has not won a sectional title in six years. But the success of the two-time defending conference champion Indiana University Kokomo program has brought more visibility to local fans, and volleyball is starting to get more recognition. 

Western High School head coach Sacha Burkett wants to continue the trend while improving the style of play locally, and that is why she started the Kokomo Volleyball Academy. Based at Western, the off-season program was launched in 2015 as a club-level squad for future Panthers. While the travel teams are currently only open to Western student-athletes, this year KVA will host its first clinic from April 28-30 at the Western Fieldhouse for ages 10-14.

“Our feeder program is only for Western athletes,” said Burkett. “But, we are going to have our first open-to-the-county event, and it will be a clinic. We hope to use our clinic to see growing volleyball interest in the area.”

For Burkett, volleyball is in her blood. The 2010 Wes-Del High School graduate played in the hot-bed of club-level volleyball known as Munciana since the age of 12. At Wes-Del, she was an All-State selection and led her squad to the 2009 Class 1A state championship game, where she earned the prestigious IHSAA Mental Attitude Award. She went on to become a two-time captain for Grand Valley State University, a NCAA Division II program.

Now, she is ready to pass what she has learned to younger players. That is why Burkett started the Kokomo Volleyball Academy. With the clinic being open to all Howard County players this year, she hopes in future years to also open the club travel teams to players outside of Western schools, while also adding additional age levels.

“We have five travel teams for Western players in our third year,” she said. “Eventually, my plan is to open the club to the county to provide a place for volleyball players to play and travel during the off-season.”

Burkett said the clinic will be divided into two, three-day sessions, and players can opt to participate in one session or both. The first session will focus on volleyball skill work, while the second is geared toward speed, agility, and power training. The price is $75 for the volleyball skill work three-day clinic and $75 for the speed, agility, and power training clinic – or participants can combine the two for $120.

Nick Rush, a certified performance enhancement specialist (National Academy of Sports Medicine), will assist in the clinics. The 2004 Indiana Strongest Man and five-time national qualifier for amateur strongman championships is currently an occupational therapist specializing in shoulder rehabilitation.

For more information on the clinic, contact Burkett at sburkett@western.k12.in.us or visit www.kokomovolleyballacademy.com. Participants who register by April 20 will receive a free clinic T-shirt.