Soccer: Current, former players return to help teach kids at Kick Off Soccer Camp

Kick Off Soccer Camp

Winters Mill soccer players and Kick Off Soccer Camp counselors Erin Snyder and Kyla Holt swapped places in the goal as campers took turns taking shots at them during a game of power finesse.

Power finesse is a soccer drill that gives an individual the opportunity to take two shots on goal, a strong shot from 20 yards out and another attempt closer to the goal. If the player makes both shots, they can challenge another player in line. If they makes one shot, that player remains in the game.


If neither shot is made, the player sits out.

Drills such as these are common at the annual summer camp, run by Falcons girls soccer coach Denny Snyder, at Sandymount Park. They're designed for the campers to have fun while learning the basic fundamentals of soccer.


"I love soccer and it's been very good to me," Snyder said. "It's an opportunity for me to kick back and have some fun with kids that are coming through and it's been a lot of fun."

Snyder said he started the camp 27 years ago with Matt Robinson, former men's soccer coach at then Western Maryland College. Snyder was Robinson's assistant at the time and he now runs the camp with former Francis Scott Key boys soccer coach Dave Storey.

The camp's first week-long session wrapped up Friday morning.

Each camp session focuses on a particular skill and Snyder puts the campers through drills to make sure they learn basic skill sets such as dribbling and trapping the ball. He sets up grid formations to get the kids moving with the ball in short periods of time and often closes out each session with a game or scrimmage.

Former North Carroll soccer player Ben England, a recent McDaniel graduate, was in fifth grade when he first participated in the camp. He returned for two more years and has been coming back to assist as a counselor for the past 12, he said.

"What I like most about the camps is that you not only learn about the game, but you're also helping the kids develop as people," England said. "That's what's the most important."

In addition to power finesse, the campers engaged in friendly competition between games of Doctor Tag and World Cup on Friday. Aiden Neal, 13, a student at North Carroll Middle School and fellow camper Nick Diehl, also 13, a Northwest Middle School student, said they both hope to master their left-footed skills.

Doctor Tag is designed to help players keep the ball moving by dribbling while avoiding being tagged by a designated "doctor." If a player is tagged, he has to perform a series of exercises with the ball before rejoining the game.

World Cup, a Kick Off Soccer Camp favorite, allows kids to form teams and compete as a country of their choice to score in order to advance to the next round.

"I like the teamwork and how it brings people who like soccer together," said Aiden, a fifth-year camper.

Holt said Erin Snyder brought her along to help with the summer camp and both girls plan to be counselors at the second session as well, which is scheduled for July 31-Aug. 4.

"We're getting to play too," Holt said. "It's fun."


Snyder said he appreciates the help he gets from his counselors every year because they reinforce what he teaches — their skill sets come in handy because the campers mirror what they see from their older counterparts.

"When I come out here, I try to have fun with the kids," England said. "I feel like I'm one of them — playing with them and not just watching them and getting involved one-on-one and taking part in drills makes it better."


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