The Calhoun Community Education Youth Soccer Camp was held this week, and the attendees got to have a little fun and learn about the game at the same time.
The annual camp was run by the Calhoun High girls and boys soccer programs with the high school coaches and players serving as instructors during the four days.
For more photos from camp, see Saturday's Calhoun Times.
Calhoun boys head coach Matt Rice said the camp is always something he anticipates during the summer.
“This is what I look forward to all year,” said Rice, who just completed his fifth season at Calhoun. “This is an awesome time, and we get to see the future of soccer in Calhoun and Gordon County. We love getting together with the younger kids and playing and teaching the sport we love to them. We love to pass on our knowledge to the next generation of soccer players here locally.
“All the kids came out here with a great attitude and wanted to have fun and learn. Our high school players did an awesome job with them. This is a way for us to give back to the community. All the money from the camp goes back to our program to help with pay for uniforms and whatever else the players need. But we get way more out of it than the money. Just the chance to help these campers out and teach them is what we do it for.”
The camp ran from Monday through Thursday and was open to kids ages 3-12 years old. The 3-5 year-old group had their session from 9-10 a.m. each day while the 6-12 year-old group went from 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
Rice said he was very pleased with what they were able to accomplish in the four days with both the younger and older groups.
“If you look at the younger group, many of them wouldn’t really even leave their parents’ side on the first day, but by the end of camp every single one was running around and having a lot of fun playing soccer and we loved seeing that,” said Rice. “So for that group it was a lot about having fun and also growing up a little and creating that independence and freedom from their parents.
“With the older age group, we knew we had a lot of repeat campers from previous years so we didn’t want to offer them the same things they’ve already seen. We added some new things with them and really pushed them more than we ever have before. We worked on skills, touch, control and a lot of decision making. We put them in scenarios where they had to think quickly. I think they improved a lot and grew from the start of the week.”
Each camper received a t-shirt at the end of camp on Thursday. This year’s camp was the first one held on campus at the new practice field and track after it had been held at the river park complex the last several years. Rice said it was good to have the kids on the grounds of the high school.
“It’s really nice,” said Rice. “Getting to have it on campus is special. Just to see our beautiful school behind us is good for the kids because they are going to be who eventually comes through and becomes part of our program and school.
“Plus, having the track around the field, the parents got the chance to come and walk or use the track. So it was a benefit to everyone. To finally be able to show off these facilities was a great thing for us.”
Rice said the plan is for the high school teams to play their home games at the new field starting next season as well.