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Last week's camp showed that soccer is becoming a more popular pursuit in the southern part of Bedford County, and that the feeder pipe into Staunton River High School is filled with promising players.
The week-long camp placed an emphasis on fundamentals but seemed to do so in a way that made the learning fun for the 40 campers that attended the camp, which was held at the high school. The instruction was aimed at the 6-11 year old range of players.
A dozen Staunton River players helped out coaches Otis Chambers and Robert Morck, the JV and varsity coaches, respectively, at Staunton River.
"The purpose of the camp is for the kids to have fun and to have a good experience with soccer," explained Chambers. In only its second year, the camp is getting strong support across the community.
"Soccer is coming (in the Staunton River area), thanks to our (Freedom) soccer club," said Chambers. "We also want the kids to come away with an appreciation for Staunton River, as a whole."
Coach Morck added, "We've had a great showing of team kids and a great number of youth. We want to get the kids excited about soccer. Let them have a good time. Hopefully, we'll see them again when they're in high school."
Fun seemed to be the byword at this camp, though the urchins were seen to be working hard.
Camper Eli Roach stated, "It's been fun. I've learned different moves."
Fellow camper Michael Smith, 9, added, "I've learned inside cuts, outside cuts and the pull back." Even though Smith stated that soccer takes a back seat to his love of baseball, he still enjoys the game greatly.
Colby Barton, a rising senior on the Staunton River squad, worked intently with some of his young charges. "I want to go into coaching," said Barton. "I like seeing the faces of the kids?seeing that they're enjoying soccer.?
Even though Issac Goode graduated this past spring, he came back to work the camp. "I like teaching the kids, and giving back to the community," said the Virginia Tech-bound Goode. "I went to camps like this when I was younger. Just watching them learn makes me happy."
At the end of the camp, some of the participants were rewarded for being named Most Improved Player, for example. The awards were prized Staunton River game jerseys. The coaching staff hopes that those jerseys will be worn proudly by the campers until the day comes when they earn their own Eagle jersey.
The improvement in the Staunton River High School teams has been impressive. The Lady Eagles have played themselves into the finals of the District championship the past two seasons. The boys' team is knocking on the door of Regional-level play.
With camps such as this one building interest and enthusiasm for the game, the future can only be looking brighter for an area that was once considered a soccer desert.