Advanced soccer camp keeps girls entertained

BY VICTORIA KIPP | JULY 17, 2012 6:30 AM

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The heat didn't keep everyone inside on Monday — the Iowa elite soccer camp was out in full force training on the fields in the first full day of camp.

The main concern at the camp was keeping the girls hydrated — because they're in an advanced-level camp, that can be draining. But the counselors also focus on mixing fun into the training.

This camp is different from the other soccer camp that the Iowa soccer staff conducts because it isn't considered an introductory camp, senior Hawkeye player Kat Lewis said. But no matter how tough the girls work, they're still kids and need a fun environment to stay engaged.

"A lot of time, girls come here because they want to get recruited, so they come here to get looks from coaches," Lewis said. "But then, the younger ones just want to come out and play."

The camp is under the direction of Hawkeye head coach Ron Rainey and assistant coaches Shane Meridith and Julie Hanley.

The camp accepts girls ages 10 to 18, with varying levels of skill. But the camp is not on the introductory level, so the girls need to have some prior knowledge of the game before stepping on the field.

Even the least experienced of the players are able to dribble, shoot, and pass, and they understand basic plays.

"Some of the girls are more on the beginning side of the sport," camp assistant Ivan Sanchez said. "But they already have the skills for the game, so it is easier for us to show a drill, and they pick it up right away."

Upon arrival at the camp, the girls were divided into two groups mostly based on age, but skill level was also taken into consideration.

The younger and less experienced girls worked in the Iowa practice field on Monday, but their training session was no easier than that of the more advanced kickers.

The younger girls divided into two teams and ran through drills in which they would take a shot on goal and then turn around and defend a shot taken by a player on the other team. This drill helped the girls practice their ball handling while also experiencing goalkeeping skills, which a lot of girls don't always have the opportunity to experience.

To challenge the girls even further, they had to take some of their shots on goal with their non-dominant foot. The girls wouldn't typically use their opposite foot in a game setting, but it's good to practice just in case they find themselves in a position where they can only use that foot.

"A big thing we work on is movement of the ball and possession," Rainey said. "We also focus on defense, working together as a team."

Even though the drills the girls were working on weren't specifically defensive drills, the campers still supported their teammates. When someone had a good shot on or goal or made an impressive save, the other girls let her know.

"It's OK to celebrate if someone makes a good save or shot," Rainey said to the girls as they ran through their drills. "It's OK to get excited."

Working together in their mini teams not only teaches the girls to work as a unit, it also helps them meet new people.

Lewis said the camp is a great opportunity for the girls to have fun with others who are interested in the same things as them. Friendships come out of the camps.

At the end of their steamy morning session, the girls walked off the field together with smiles and laughter all around.

"We're just trying to keep the camp as fun as possible," Rainey said. "Even with these warmer days."

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