Twins Julia and Isabelle Lucas talk about their experiences at the Green Terror Soccer Camp. (Megan Woodward / Carroll County Times)
Julia and Isabelle Lucas do everything together.
The 11-year-old twins are attending the Green Terror Soccer Camp, run by McDaniel women's soccer coach Sandy Lagana, for the first time. The defenders have been playing soccer since they were toddlers and they joined the camp to work on their skills during the summer months.
"We dominate on defense," Isabelle said. "We're a dynamic duo."
The duo is among a group of about 90 girls between the ages of 11 and 19 all at the Green Terror Soccer Camp for similar reasons.
Lagana, a South Carroll graduate, started the camp soon after she accepted the coaching position at McDaniel four years ago. She took it upon herself to spread the word through the community, at local high schools and clubs. The camp's first year had about 35-40 players, Lagana said, but it has grown significantly since.
According to McDaniel's website, the camp is designed to provide its players with the support to improve technically and tactically, in a positive and enjoyable environment. The daily itinerary includes individual and small group training which concludes with full-field scrimmages to ensure the campers cover each aspect of the game.
"The technical work is basically the kids improving with individual ball work," Lagana said. "Tactical work will be a session where they work on understanding the game better, where their position is on the field and understanding their role as a defender versus a midfielder versus a forward. It's more of figuring out how you play on the field instead of individual skill work."
During the morning session, the campers generally work on their individual skills. Lagana said the afternoon sessions have changed because of the intense heat, but the kids continue to thrive on team building skills — with some additional lighthearted pleasure tossed in.
Lagana started the camp as an overnight, and it hasn't changed. Overnight campers checked into McDaniel's dorms on Sunday and will check out when the camp concludes on Wednesday. This way, the players can interact with one another off the soccer pitch as well.
"I like the responsibility of having a key," Isabelle said.
Lagana said one of the important things is to provide campers with the full experience of a camp.
"You can't play soccer for 24 hours a day," Lagana said. "Last night we played Charades on the turf under the lights, tonight we're doing a pizza party in Gill Lobby; tomorrow we're having team building games. Every night we try to make sure to have an evening activity where the girls aren't just going back and hanging out in the dorms, they're actually interacting more.
"That's the important part, to make sure that they're meeting new people and extending themselves socially so we try to help with that as well. Some kids come by themselves so it's nice for them to make friends right away."
Lagana secured her first coaching position at Ferrum College in 2007 and returned in 2012 to take over at McDaniel. One of the factors that drew the Sykesville native back home to Carroll was the ability to coach in the Centennial Conference. The Green Terror went 15-3-2 and advanced to the NCAA tournament in 2015.
Paola Rosa, a rising junior who is a striker for the Green Terror, has been a helping hand at the camp since she was a freshman. She said she is driven to return as a counselor every summer because she reunites with her teammates and can teach campers key skills they can use in the future.
"We do our best to make every girl feel really special," Rosa said. "We try to learn everybody's names and really encourage them to do their best and not feel nervous around us or Sandy. We want to show them that they can show off their strengths and work on their weaknesses while they're here, too."