The weather cooperated with the first three days of the Smith-Cotton soccer camp, but Thursday’s session was forced inside after the morning rain showers. Last year’s camp was cancelled for rain.
The participants didn’t stop having fun though, as they were still running around kicking soccer balls at the Sedalia Middle School on Thursday with coaches instructing the players and parents looking on.
The first group of kids were third through fifth graders and the sixth through eighth graders took the gym floor later in the session.
One of the early-group participants was Jordan Beard, who said it was more fun being outside, but was still enjoying learning from the coaches inside.
“I like it because we are practicing and learning a lot of new skills,” he said.
One of the girls participating was Sydney Toops, who celebrated with the other girls after defeating the boys during a competition of knocking down the other team’s cones with soccer balls.
“It was fun learning and pretty nice to know what to do,” she said.
Toops said she plays basketball and softball, but added why soccer was her favorite of the three.
“Kicking it around and actually getting to have it the whole time and getting to participate the whole time and not sitting out,” she said.
Dozens of kids signed up to learn the fundamentals of soccer from a four-man coaching staff, which included Smith-Cotton High School coaches Ethan Weller and Adam Murray.
“We have close to 50,” Weller said. “I would say numbers are up a little up from the last couple of years.”
The coaches were able to rotate players around to different stations during the first few days to give more individualized instruction to the participants.
“We try to do it in stations a lot of times,” Weller said. “Today is obviously different because we are stuck inside. We had to protect our field, but we try to keep it in stations to where coaches are working on certain aspects of the game.”
Some of the campers picked up skills faster than others, but Weller said the No. 1 goal is to make the camp fun.
“At this level you can teach the simple things,” he said. “How to trap a ball, how to pass a ball, the proper part of the foot to use. The biggest part at this level is to keep it simple and instructional, but also make it fun. We want the kids to enjoy the game. This gives us a chance to pass that along and also gives us a chance to identify some kids who we might need to keep an eye on.”
Beard said he had fun at the camp and learned valuable skills.
“I didn’t know you were supposed to dribble with your laces and I learned how to pass with the inside of my foot,” Beard said. “The coaches are always showing us how to do it first and then helping us out when we need help.”
Toops said she also learned to pass with the inside of her foot and added that she enjoyed learning with fellow campers.
“It’s fun to get together and learn more,” she said.