Even though the Mexico varsity girls soccer team is currently without a coach, that program was still able to combine this week with Bulldogs varsity boys soccer coach Chris Hawkins to host a youth skills camp this week.
"When I was in high school this camp was a yearly occurrence, but this summer it's the first camp we've held," said Mexico varsity girls soccer assistant coach Haley Schafer. "Right now we're focusing on a lot of fundamental issues like dribbling, passing and shooting. We're also trying to develop a love of soccer, so we play a lot of games and focus on the fun parts of soccer like shooting and scoring."
Taking place at Chris Hotop Field behind Mexico Middle School, this camp was open to boys entering second through eighth grade every night this week from 5:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m. Because this event used to occur annually, but hasn't taken place in two years, participation numbers weren't what they could have been. Heat was a mitigating factor when it came to the specifics of this clinic, as well, all of which resulted in athletes getting much more one-on-one attention than they might have otherwise.
"When I played in this program this was a an event that thrived. There were a lot of people involved, but we've kind of had a decline the past couple years," Schafer said. "We have 20-25 kids signed up for this event, so it's really nice seeing kids liking soccer again. When I was in high school I helped run this camp. So for things to have come full circle and to be back here coaching is a really awesome feeling. I'm trying to bing back some of our old traditions this year, and we're excited about that."
Another element from times past Schafer wants to revive is the mantra used by a previous coach, "rise to the challenge". This year that phrase has taken on a whole new meaning for Schafer as she tries to keep the program moving in the right direction until a replacement is hired for previous head coach Elizabeth Robb.
"(The Mexico girls program) has been doing open fields on Mondays and Thursdays from 6:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m., so we've been keeping busy," said Schafer. "We've had a very young turn out. Not a lot of numbers, but the freshmen and sophomore classes are definitely being represented."
The middle school football program also has a clinic this week from July 11-13 that was suppose to run from 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m., but those times were moved back because of all the recent local humidity. That same idea worked in favor of the varsity girls this week because they're camp ran from 7:30 p.m.- 8:30 p.m. Next week the varsity boys may not be quite so fortunate, though, as their training is slated for Mon.-Fri. from 5:30 p.m.- 7:00 p.m.
"This program has been around for a long time. There are a lot of families who put a lot of time into this effort," Schafer said. "It's a non-traditional sport. Kids who aren't necessarily the best athletes in other sports really shine on the soccer field. We're happy to see so many kids involved in the game."