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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Students from 25 schools learn soccer skills, meet others at Tubman Soccer Camp

The answers were almost identical. When three DC SCORES Tubman Soccer Camp participants were asked what they’d be doing if they weren’t attending the four-week afternoon camp, they said the following:

“It’d be boring. There’s nothing to do,” said Christian L.

“Working with my dad, sleeping at home,” said Jorge S.

“I would probably just be at home sleeping and watching TV," said Jhoana H.

Instead, almost 100 kids from 25 schools have attended all or parts of the four-week camp that is concluding this week at Tubman Elementary School. Students from 11 DC SCORES elementary and middle schools; four middle schools that participate in our soccer league; three high schools that alumni of the program attend; and seven other schools where friends of DC SCORES students go have come to the camp.

Every afternoon, athletic director Kenny Owens and assistant AD Sean Hinkle – who both played Division I soccer – and a group of other experienced soccer players and coaches run the participants through drills that tirelessly work a specific skill.

One day it’s dribbling. The next it’s defending. Then heading. By receiving instruction for a couple hours from a knowledgeable source, kids have become much better at using correct soccer form on the field. Then they get to practice it during different games at the end of the afternoon.

“Controlling the ball and then shooting it,” Jorge said, listing skills he’s gotten better at. “Defending by keeping the opponent from going a certain way, making him take the ball (to the) outside instead of taking it in and taking a shot.

“Every day we play games at the end to see how we improved. It’s really fun because we get to show off what we learned.”

Jorge has been in DC SCORES for four years, participating for three years at Raymond Education Center and for one at Lincoln Middle School. But this has been his first summer camp, and he’s excited about taking the skills he’s learned and improved upon and using them for Lincoln in the fall league.

“I can (now) do tricks and new games,” said Christian, who will be a fifth grader at Tubman in the fall and excitedly listed several soccer-related games he’s learned the past couple weeks. Just like for Jorge, this has been Christian’s first summer-camp experience, and it will undoubtedly help him on the field for Tubman come September.

Jhoana joined DC SCORES less than a year ago, participating for the first time as an eighth grader at Oyster Adams Bilingual School. Now she feels like a big part of the experience, having met several other participants from dozens of schools and learning about soccer beside them.

“It’s been nerve-racking at times,” she said of meeting new people. “Sometimes you don’t know how to approach them. (But) once you get to know them more, you get to hang out more and that’s fun.”

Not only has Jhoana mightily improved her favorite aspect of the sport – defense – but she looks forward to staying involved with DC SCORES while attending McKinley High School by volunteering at schools that have programming.

And Jorge sees one other subtle benefit from his days spent playing alongside different schools’ DC SCORES participants.

“When soccer starts during school and we’ll play against them, I’ll know how they play now!” he said.

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