Volleyball: Youth volleyball skill sessions an opportunity to grow the game locally

Lynnsey Machakaire, the Detroit Lakes volleyball head coach, is hosting free skill sessions for youth players in grades 3-8.

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Local youth volleyball players practice at Rossman Elementary School during a Detroit Lakes volleyball skill session on Apr. 11, 2022.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tirbune

DETROIT LAKES – When Lynnsey Machakaire accepted the volleyball head coaching position, she wanted to find a way for youth players to hone in on their fundamentals. Thanks to her free skills sessions each Monday and Friday, incoming Lakers are building for the future.

"We wanted to bring back an open skill session and an open gym atmosphere," Machakaire said. "We have about 150 kids coming on Monday and Friday. Parents show up and help us out too. It's an opportunity to develop a passion for volleyball."

The skills sessions are split into three groups. Third and fourth graders go from 4-5:15 p.m. at the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center and Rossman Elementary School before the fifth and sixth graders practice from 5:30-7 p.m. From 6:30-8 p.m., seventh and eighth graders train at Detroit Lakes Middle School.

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A youth volleyball player hits a ball at the Detroit Lakes volleyball skills sessions at Rossman Elementary School on Apr. 11, 2022.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"It's a free opportunity for kids in grades 3-8 to have skill-based volleyball sessions," Machakaire said. "It's purely fundamental. We opted not to play in any tournaments. It's kind of a side opportunity for kids who aren't playing on a club team. This is a great way for kids to be multi-sport athletes without hindering their ability to play other sports in the spring."

These youth practices aren't just a way for young players to learn the basics of the game. They’re also a chance to develop relationships with other girls who have the same interests.


"These skill sessions also help us build camaraderie on the court with the girls and the girls with each other," Machakaire said. "These are kids that come from different schools and different lives. We, as coaches, want to help them build relationships together through volleyball."

For Machakaire and her husband, who organize the practices, it's a great way to teach the Detroit Lakes volleyball culture at the high school level.

"It's awesome for team building, bonding and developing our program," Machakaire said. "One of the focuses that we're working on in our gym is a rolling start. They come in here and get started as soon as they get into the gym without me saying anything. We want to set our expectations of what we're looking for as well as try to empower them to empower each other. I think it's important to teach that at an elementary age."

"Us coaches want to develop the kids into where they fit best," Machakaire said. "Giving them an opportunity that's free of charge to come out and try it to see if they like it or to find out what they're good at will help them ask the questions they need to ask. Passing and serving is our basic function. I feel like if we really nail down the fundamentals, it's only going to elevate the talent we have in our community as they get older."

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Local youth volleyball players practice at Rossman Elementary School during a Detroit Lakes volleyball skill session on Apr. 11, 2022.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Machakaire ran a similar program before she took the Detroit Lakes head coaching gig.

"I used to be in charge of the Waves program, which was an add-on spring program years ago," Machakaire said. "Being back in the (high school) head coaching position and not having a newborn baby at home for the first time in a few years, my husband and I wanted to get this going again. I love being out here with all of these kids. I wish I could learn all their names faster."

Machakaire hopes the kid's passion for the sport grows along with their skills. She wants to establish a culture around a love for volleyball from the ground up.

"It's fun to see the kids and their spark," Machakaire said. "There are siblings and cousins of girls at the high school level. I hope we see a lot more of these girls wanting to come to the high school games in the fall to watch the big girls play. It's a really fun place to see the program growing. Maybe, in the future, we'll get some tournaments going. This gives me an opportunity to build relationships with the girls coming up through high school."


For more information, you can reach out to

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Local youth volleyball do a post-practice cheer at Rossman Elementary School after a Detroit Lakes volleyball skill session on Apr. 11, 2022.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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