PAOLA — For the Marcum Volleyball Academy, it is all about having confidence on the court.

Players attending the summer-long academy gain that experience through hard work, repetition, drills, scrimmages and sweat that comes from training for 90 minutes in the steaming hot firehouse gymnasium in the old Paola High School building on Wea Street.

Cadi Marcum, a graduate of Paola High School, instructed two summer sessions two nights a week at the gymnasium with sessions on Sunday and Monday evenings.

To make sure the volleyball players got enough reps for the camp, Marcum limited the number of girls to about 15 per session for a total of 60 campers this summer.

This is the ninth year for the Marcum Volleyball Academy. Marcum was the Class 4A State Player of the Year and Kansas High School Player of the Year her senior year. She signed with the Kansas Jayhawks on a full-ride scholarship for volleyball.

She continued to play AA volleyball and coached club teams for nine years. She was inducted into the Paola High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003.

Marcum was vice president of the Miola Volleyball League for six years. Fifty kids were enrolled in the league the season she started,and the league grew to more than 130 her final year with the league.

High school and collegiate players at the academy last summer were from Paola, Osawatomie, Prairie View, Central Heights, Garnett and Burlington.

Middle school and younger players are from Paola, Spring Hill, Louisburg, Osawatomie, Anderson County, Prairie View, Wellsville, Ottawa, Olathe and Overland Park.

The hard work this summer is paying off, Marcum said.

“I am starting to see where the kids have started putting everything together,” she said. “We break down the fundamentals step by step so they can feel and understand what it feels like when they do it right and do it wrong and to create muscle memory. Now they are getting to the point where they can recognize what they did wrong, and that’s the biggest battle.

“I love to see when they have that moment when it clicks for them,” Marcum said. “You can see it on their face and in their body language and it’s like seeing them go from liking the sport to falling in love with it. I’ve always thought coaching was much more than teaching someone a sport. It’s hopefully helping them learn work ethic, confidence, perseverance, commitment and learning to be a part of a team and what it takes to be a good teammate, and those are lessons you need to use in life every day.”

Three collegiate players are training with the Marcum Volleyball Academy this summer.

Chandler Karr, a front row hitter, is a graduate of Paola High School where she was the Tri-County Spotlight Co-Volleyball Player of the Year her senior season. She recently graduated from Neosho Community College where she was a two-year starter. Karr signed a national letter of intent this summer to play volleyball at Fort Lewis College this fall.

Kaleigh Scott, a 2019 graduate of Paola High School, is a front row hitter. Scott signed a letter of intent to play volleyball at Ottawa University.

Paige Fleming, a graduate of Paola High School, is a hitter. She signed a letter of intent to play volleyball at Neosho Community College.

Other players training with Marcum include: Julia Paisley and Lauren Aust from Prairie View High School; Allie Lagasse, a hitter from Osawatomie High School; Tiana Simmons, a front row player from Blue Valley Southwest High School; Rylan Armbruster, a setter from Paola High School; Taryn Marcum, a hitter from Paola; and Jada Wolf, a setter from Edgerton.

Starting the academy was a dream of hers and a final wish for her father, who was dying.

“I told him I didn’t know if it was going to be financially possible,” Marcum said. “I was probably going to have to go back to work.”

He kept asking me to promise.

“I asked him why it was so important to him. He told me when I was playing or coaching or teaching volleyball, I would get lost in it and think of nothing else,” Marcum said. “He said when I was doing my academy, he knew there would be a couple hours a day where I wouldn’t be thinking of him and missing him. While I was coaching, I would forget about the stresses of life. He needed to know I would be OK a couple of hours a day.”

Marcum was a three-sport athlete in high school, playing volleyball, basketball and softball. Sport has always been a big part of Marcum’s life and she loves sharing that passion for the game with her students.

“I have always loved sports, it was my outlet,” she said. “Being an athlete gave me a sense of belonging and community and being supported by others and being able to support others. It showed me that if I wanted to work hard and focus that I could accomplish anything. It was up to me not anyone else. No one else could do the work for me, it was up to me.

“I want kids to see the payoff for hard work,” Marcum said. “I wanted them to see that when things are hard at home or in school that finding an outlet that’s positive to help you forget about it for a little while and helps redirect your focus can make all the difference in the world.”

To lighten things up from time to time during the grueling workouts, Marcum has the players scrimmage in a game where they are hitting the ball under the net instead of over it.

There is also a hitting drill where players are on a knee, striking the ball under the net.

“I use the hitting the ball under the net to teach them to read the offense and get in position quickly and to read the setter and the hitter,” Marcum said. “It’s a fun game that makes them work hard and makes them use and put together a lot of the skills we work on.

“Kneeling and hitting the ball under the net helps them feel what it’s like to get their hips open and isolate using their core when they hit,” she said. “I try to let them do some of the fun game-like drills so they can use their skills and it also helps them realize what they need to work more on, and who doesn’t like to do things where they can compete and win?”

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