This story was originally published in the Fall 2010 issue of Harker Quarterly
This year Harker offered a triple treat for athletes: soccer, swim and tennis camps all ran throughout the summer, and campers of all ages and skill levels attended. Each camp was handcrafted by its director and offered goals tailored to the athletes’ needs.
This dynamic camp was directed by upper school boys varsity soccer coach Shaun Tsakiris, a UCLA MVP nominee and national champion team member.
Each camp ran for a week, 9 a.m. to noon, and gave kids a chance to work on virtually all aspects of their game. Tsakiris worked hard to ensure that the athletes stayed focused on soccer.
He said the goal was to hold “an active, soccer-specific camp.” The highlight of the June camp came when Joe Cannon, goalkeeper for the San Jose Earthquakes, visited the group. He talked soccer to the campers, signed autographs and presented a banner to the player of the week.
“It was a good experience to talk to a guy who plays professional soccer,” said Alex Courdillon, a grade 8 student at Miller Middle School. “You learn a little bit more about how you can prepare to become a great soccer player. It’s really inspirational.”
This year’s Harker Summer Aquatic Program was a hit with kids and parents alike. Offerings included swim lessons and a swim camp, with enough free swim time to keep the spirit of summer going. Over half the participants were from schools other than Harker, and meeting new swimmers was one of the highlights for campers.
The lessons were 30 minutes long, scheduled a week at a time. Students chose individual, semiprivate or group lessons, but lessons weren’t all work. “Having my free time and playing in the water,” was great, said Terman Middle School grade 6 student Leonard Wong, “and swimming [lessons are] also good. My mom says I’m getting a lot of exercise.”
The swim camp was a two-week program aimed at middle school students and focused on fitness and water safety. It included physical training, classroom learning and skills instruction. In the classroom, the kids learned part of the American Red Cross GuardStart program, covering topics such as responding in an emergency and the prevention of aquatic accidents.
The Harker/Oakwood Tennis Training System (HOTTS) and Harker Tennis Camp are taught by Harker’s varsity coach Craig Pasqua. The tennis camp focuses on skills for beginning and intermediate players, while the HOTTS camp is geared more towards higher level players. Both operate at the Oakwood tennis courts located less than a block from the Blackford campus. With the two programs, Harker is able to offer a summer tennis experience to players of all skill levels that is both challenging and fun.
This year, there were about 30 HOTTS students each week, ages 10-18, filling all five courts and giving athletes a wide range of competitors and plenty of court time. A typical day involved complex drills and games, following a weekly cycle with instruction and drills three days a week and competitions on Thursday (boys) and Friday (girls).
By devoting an entire day to matches with clubs from around the area, players had a chance to gain valuable competition experience “that can be hard to obtain outside of extremely competitive tournaments,” said Pasqua. “For many of the kids in the HOTTS program this is the first time they have ever played a competitive match.”
All three camps aim to help students become athletes and develop sportsmanship skills in a fun, challenging environment, and, as usual, mission accomplished!