LAURINBURG — St. Andrews University and men’s soccer coach Stevan Hernandez hosted the first of two youth camps this week, and despite triple-digit temperatures that kept the kids off the outdoor pitch for much of the four-day period, Hernandez said the experience was a positive one for the campers.
“It was a pleasant turnout — great participation, lots of energy, and that’s what we like to see.”
Hernandez said between 60-70 kids ages 4-15 arrived for the first day of the activities on Monday and many stuck around as the week progressed.
This week marked the first of two sessions the school will host this summer. The second soccer camp will be held from Aug. 10-13.
The sweltering weather this week forced Hernandez to improvise his schedule — on Thursday, the kids played outside on the soccer fields from 9-11 a.m. Then from 11 a.m. to noon, they retreated to Harris Court, St. Andrews’ gymnasium, where Hernandez set up cones and nets to simulate the outdoor feel.
“We kept them out on the grass fields as long as we possibly could,” he said. “Safety is number one if you do anything like this.”
The campers worked on individual and team skills in both settings. Hernandez enlisted three members from the St. Andrews men’s and women’s soccer programs to help with instructions and further cultivate individual development with each of the kids in attendance.
“Their energy levels were great, the kids responded, and there was such growth from Monday to Thursday,” Hernandez said. “That’s one of the most satisfying things to see as a coach is to watch the young players develop, especially in a short amount of time.”
Hernandez said playing indoors is “great for technical development” because it’s a more intimate space that facilitates agility and quick decisions by players looking to improve their game.
“It adds another training to their development when we can play outdoor and indoor.”
After an hour of indoor action, the campers took a break to eat lunch and cool off in the school’s swimming pools located down the hallway.
Hernandez said the access to all of the different facilities on campus made the transition from outdoors to indoors seamless despite the unique circumstances.
“We’re fortunate to have the facilities to be able to come indoor, to utilize the pool and we have great turf on the grass fields,” he said.
After spending time in the pools, the kids returned to the gym for an hour of freestyle soccer against the camp directors and one another. Hernandez said while improving their skills is important, the best part of the camp is that the kids can build friendships and enjoy one another’s company while playing a sport they love.
“We look forward to hosting another one in August,” he said.
Half-day camps in August will run from 9 a.m. to noon and cost $55 while full-day camps, with a cost of $110, will last from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and include lunch. Both camps are for kids ages 4-15 and each player will receive a camp T-shirt as well.
For more information, contact Hernandez at 910-277-5277 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.