Things were hopping in the Homer High School’s Alice Witte Gym on Saturday. Or kicking, as the case may be, as the HHS Lady Mariners soccer program held a soccer camp for aspiring soccer stars from 5 to 14 years of age.
“We have been a part of the soccer community for more than 20 years,” said HHS Head Coach Mickey Todd. “We feel that the best way to develop a program is to involve the community at the first opportunity and continue as the kids get older.”
About 60 youngsters took to the gym floor Saturday morning, with the attention on 5- to 9-year olds between 9-10:30 a.m. and shifting to 10- to 14-year-olds from 10:30 a.m.-noon. The clinic was organized by Todd, with the help of his assistant coach and wife Wendy Todd and members of the HHS soccer team.
“The hope for the clinic was different for different age groups,” said Wendy Todd. “For the youngest players, it was a chance for them to see what it was all about and meet some great role models. For the older kids, we hoped to work on skill development in our passing, shooting, dribbling and footwork stations that we did before scrimmage times and get them excited about summer soccer.”
Summer soccer is run through the Soccer Association of Homer.
The clinic also was a fundraiser for the HHS soccer program, to help offset this season’s travel and refereeing costs.
“It was a huge success with more than $600 raised,” said Wendy Todd.
It also will be a success if future Mariners “come watch many of our upcoming home games,” said Wendy Todd. “I sure hope many of these kids will come watch the Mariners this spring and want to be future Mariner soccer players themselves.”
With a new turf field to be installed at Homer High this summer, an additional clinic may be held this coming fall.
Todd has coached soccer for youngsters all the way from Paul Banks Elementary School to Homer High.
“We feel this is the best way to develop lifelong relationships with these kids and hopefully inspire them to find some enjoyment in soccer and also other athletic endeavors,” said Todd. “It has been and always will be about the kids being involved.”
The Mariners boys and girls soccer teams begin the season with games in Juneau on April 18-19. Their first at-home games are against Wasilla on April 25.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.