2012-07_SoccerCamp - Images by The Harker School
Young soccer enthusiasts in grades 5-12 once again flocked to the upper school campus for Harker’s yearly summer soccer camp. Players of all skill levels found something to enjoy about the program, which just finished up its second week.
Coach Shaun Tsakiris, who won an NCAA national championship with UCLA in 1997 and received an MVP award from that university in 2000, says Harker’s approach is unique among soccer camps. “We do different stations of psycho-motor skills, which is either juggling, balance, coordination or agility. We incorporate passing and receiving in part of our warmups,” he said.
Throughout each day of the camp, different stations are set up to allow students to work on different skills. “We rotate the kids so we make sure that each kid has a topic every day,” Tsakiris said. Each station has a coach dedicated to helping students improve a skill, be it shooting, passing, futsal (indoor soccer), one-versus-one matchups or dribbling.
“We have coaches who have either played at the highest level or coached at a very high level, and I think that we have a lot of energy with the kids,” Tsakiris said, adding that it is important to him that students have fun and learn at the same time. “We make it fun, but we make sure that it’s not just day care, that this is a soccer camp where kids are leaving knowing that they learned something.”
Harker student Jeffrey Hanke, who starts grade 11 in the fall, said the soccer camp is a “good way to train and get ready for next season,” and has been a good opportunity for him to improve his shooting techniques. Alan Guo, entering grade 10 in the fall, is now attending his third summer soccer camp. “I can improve while still having fun,” he said.
At the end of each week, students receive awards for their efforts at the camp. Awards are based less on ability and more on hard work, improvement, teamwork and attitude. “Things like that are very important for us,” Tsakiris said.
Each week also ends with an appearance by a guest speaker. The first week of the program featured an appearance by Aly Wagner, a former professional soccer midfielder who played for Women’s Professional Soccer and was a member of the United States women’s national soccer team.
According to Tsakiris, the hard work that the coaching staff and the students have put in has evidently paid off: “The fact that we keep getting more and more kids every week I think says quite a bit.”