Iowa soccer camp battles weather

BY CODY GREDELL | JUNE 10, 2011 7:20 AM

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On a sweltering day in early summer, an array of black-and-gold soccer balls bearing numerous Tigerhawk emblems were kicked back and forth from camper to camper.

Shouts of “I’m open” and “Pass” drowned out the sounds of chirping insects near the pond just outside the Iowa Soccer Complex, the site of the 2011 Hawkeye Summer Soccer Camps.

The soccer camp is held in numerous sessions each year and is aimed at boys and girls ages 5 to 18.

Campers receive instruction, technical development, and team and tactical training from the Iowa coaching staff. In addition to the coaching staff — which includes head coach Ron Rainey and second-year goalkeeper specialist Jaimel Johnson — campers also receive instruction from a few Iowa players.

“Basically, the basics,” junior defender Gabrielle Ainsworth said about her duties as a counselor. “How to pass, how to trap the ball, which part of the foot to use. We’re starting pretty simple. Then, for the older kids, we’ll just basically expose them to their higher skills.”

Temperamental Iowa weather forced Rainey and the rest of the councilors to be creative with how they ran the camp activities. An unusually cool summer turned into a virtual sweat room at the beginning of the week as temperatures rocketed into the mid-90s, but violent thunderstorms took over during the second half of the session and chased the campers inside.

“It [was] a little bit tough for the kids,” Johnson said. “But for the coaches, we can tolerate it pretty well. Just keeping the kids hydrated is the most important.”

Campers were given frequent water breaks and wet towels to help combat the high temperatures — and also spent time splashing each other with water — and Rainey said he thought the tactics were working well.

“We stop for a lot of water breaks, [and] we make sure we’re drinking a lot of water,” he said. “It’s the summer — we want it to be hot.”

The heat didn’t last long — a cold front swept thunderstorms across the area on Wednesday evening. Rainey moved the camp to the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Center, which has a small indoor turf field behind the main workout area. The coach said he had to condense some activities to fit in the space.

“The kids were really flexible,” he said. “We kept them inside during the thunderstorms and the cold rain [Thursday] afternoon.

“That’s Iowa weather.”

No matter what the weather threw at them, though, Rainey said, the camp plays an important role in building the team’s presence.

“As the University of Iowa, we want to have a presence in the community,” he said. “We want to teach the game, we want to introduce the game, we want people to fall in love with soccer as they’re in those early ages of 5, 6, 7 years old. And we want to reach out to the community. It’s a community service as well.”

The camp’s next session will be held July 25-29, and an elite camp for advanced players will take place July 17-20.

DI Sports Editor Seth Roberts contributed to this article.

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