As people around the world follow their nation’s team in the World Cup, students from around the Bay Area are coming to Harker to spend time improving their own game. Harker’s summer soccer clinic offers athletes ages nine to 16 a chance to work on their skills under the supervision of some of the best coaches in the area.
The program is directed by upper school boys varsity soccer coach Shaun Tsakiris. Tsakiris played soccer at UCLA, where he was nominated MVP and was part of a team that won the national championship. He also played on the United States national under-17 and under-20 teams. After college he played professionally before a fight with cancer ended his career; he has now been coaching for over a decade. At each camp he is supported by three to five assistant coaches who have either played at a highly competitive level or are, as Tsakiris says, “very comfortable coaching.”
Each clinic runs one week from 9 a.m. to noon, and gives kids a chance to work on all aspects of the game. Tsakiris has worked hard to ensure that the athletes stay focused on soccer. He said the goal was to “have less of a day care and more of a soccer-specific camp. A lot of camps in the area seem to maybe not be as specific with soccer […] we wanted to get away from the idea of it just being a place [for] parents to drop their kids off and more of a soccer-oriented camp.”
The students, about 60 a week, are divided into groups based on age and playing ability, allowing them to work on skills in an environment that is competitive as well as fun. Each day is broken into sessions working on different skill sets such as passing, receiving, defense and shooting. The athletes end the day with a variety of games highlighting the skills they have learned.
The relatively new Davis Field is the site of the clinic and is a major draw for students, parents and coaches alike. Tsakiris had “heard a lot about Harker on an academic standard, but as far as their athletics they are really trying to turn it around and they’re really trying to make this an athletic place” too. According to him, Davis Field is a great example of this goal.
Students also get to use the new Singh Aquatic Center after practice as a fun way to cool down. This is another feature that sets Harker’s summer soccer camp apart from others offered in the area.
So far, most of the clinic’s participants have been in the 10- to 13-year-old range. This age group works well because the students are old enough to be athletically coordinated yet young enough not to have too many bad habits. Tsakiris says that for the August camp he is trying to encourage older students to sign up.
The highlight of the June camp came on Friday when Joe Cannon, goalkeeper for the San Jose Earthquakes, stopped by. He took the time to talk to the kids about soccer, sign autographs and present a banner to the player of the week. Alex Courdillon, Gr. 8, said about the visit, “It was a good experience to talk to a guy who plays professional soccer. You learn a little bit more about how you can prepare to become a great soccer player […] it’s really inspirational.”
When asked about his experiences with the clinic, Harker rising sophomore Michael Amick said, “I think it’s just a great program to […] improve your skills, [with a] great group of people to play with, good coaches, good overall experience and I’d definitely do it again.”
Tsakiris wants to extend an open invitation to anyone who wants to get involved in soccer this summer. The next session starts the first week of August. For more information go to our Summer Soccer Camps page!