FERRELLTON — The Little Cougar Soccer Camp concluded this past Thursday and was a tremendous success, according to the camp director and his staff.
The camp was created by the North Star Soccer Boosters, and provides young soccer players with a combination of age appropriate training and a high-energy atmosphere. This combination results in priceless experiences for young soccer players and their parents.
The camp director is Chad Duryea and his group leaders are Kevin Hackett and Cat Hackett. Past and present members of the North Star varsity boys and girls soccer teams are also on staff at the camp. Staff members this year were Allie Swihura, Jordan Zimmerman, Luke Thomas, Chantelle Ansell, Kyle Louthan, Branden Steele, Anthony Divalentone, Brady McVicker, Austin Swihura, Joe Zimmerman, Preston Miller, Nathan Buxton and Jake Scrimager.
The camp was held from June 18-21 at the North Star AYSO fields. The camp is open to anyone and this year had campers from the North Star, Forest Hills, Richland, Chestnut Ridge and Conemaugh Township school districts. This was the second year for the Little Cougar Camp and it had an attendance of approximately 90 campers, up from 45 campers last year.
The camp is divided into three groups to provide age-appropriate training sessions. The "Rookie Group" was led by Duryea and consisted of campers ranging in age from four to six. During camp the Rookie Group learned basic coordination movements in addition to the skills of how to dribble, how to kick and how to work as a team.
The "Pro Group" was led by Cat Hackett and consisted of campers ranging in age from seven to 10. Through the week the Pro Group learned how and when to dribble, passing to advance the ball and the proper way to shoot a ball.
The "All Star Group" was led by Kevin Hackett and consisted of campers ranging in age from 11 to 13. The All Star Group trained in four specific areas during the week: improving dribbling technique, levels of defense, combination play and the ability to bring numbers forward.
In addition to these groups, the Little Cougar Camp also provided goalkeeper training which was led by recent North Star graduate and team captain of this year's varsity boys soccer team, Josh Ankeny. Through the week Josh coached the goalies through training sessions focusing on basic footwork, catching form, diving, receiving high balls and saving the breakaway.
Parent feedback was positive and frequent as the camp continued. Monica Updyke, whose son Eli attended the camp for a second straight year, reflected on their experiences: "As a parent, I can honestly say Coach Duryea and the entire coaching staff provides such a positive experience for all the kids. I didn't come across one coach that didn't go out of their way to make this experience above and beyond for each kid. In addition to teaching them useful soccer skills, the coaches taught the campers about teamwork and how to interact with each other. I saw the kids learning that it's not about winning or losing; but how they work together to achieve a common goal. And I am so proud that my son has learned that lesson from attending this camp."
Each night campers were welcomed and met by their group leaders and coaching staff until being dismissed to their own training fields. Campers participated in a variety of different fun training sessions each of which ended in time for scrimmage games. At the conclusion of each night the entire camp came back together and participated in the camp's most exciting game, "Hot Shot."
Duryea concluded ceremonies by leading the Cougar Award Ceremony. At the ceremony each camper received a Little Cougar Camp certificate of completion, a camp team photo and a camp T-shirt. The entire Little Cougar Soccer Camp coaching staff and North Star Soccer Boosters would like to thank the parents and campers who attended this year and made the camp such a wonderful experience for everyone involved.