The Kutztown Soccer Club and the Kutztown Area High School Boys and Girls Varsity Soccer teams held the Fourth Annual Kutztown Soccer Camp on Aug. 4 to 7.The weather cooperated beautifully for the participants and coaches as they practiced their soccer skills on the fields outside of Kutztown Area High School.
Mick O'Neil, head coach of the boys' high school varsity soccer team, led the morning camp for the group of 7 to 13 age students, while the girls' high school varsity coach, Alan Angstadt, was in charge of the 4 to 7 age group in the evening.
Before the high school soccer teams helped sponsor the camp, the Kutztown Soccer Club had an outside contractor come and teach the campers. In the last four years, however, the camp has had a more personal touch, since students from Kutztown Area High School boys' and girls' varsity soccer teams are now acting as counselors, guiding the younger students in athletic drills and helping them to hone their skills.
"This camp is a great opportunity for the varsity players to give back to the younger kids," O'Neil said. "I'm impressed; there have been 20 to 25 students from the high school varsity team show up every day to help teach."
At the beginning of each day, all the students participate in stretching and warming up together, and then split into their respective age groups to work on soccer skills, such as dribbling, shooting, juggling, and goalkeeping. They also participated in scrimmage games.
On Thursday, the last day of the camp, students get to let loose with some fun drills.
"One of their favorites is 'Kill the Coach,'" said O'Neil. "They get to shoot and pass the ball into the coaches. They love that one, of course."
Betty Parks, of Maxatawny, looked on as her daughter, Megan, 10, participated in shooting drills during the morning session. Her son, Gregory, who is entering ninth grade, was there as well, as a counselor.
"My kids have participated in this camp every year so far," Parks said. "I've noticed it really helps them to develop their skills."
Megan and Gregory are involved in other soccer activities as well.
"They are part of a traveling team called the Reading Rage," she said. "We get to travel to Maryland and New York. We're what you could call a soccer family."
The Kutztown Soccer Club is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide a positive, developmental and competitive soccer program for all players within, but not limited to, the Kutztown Area School District.