Soccer Brings Community to Campus With Youth Clinics

Contributed+by+Laura+Williamson+
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Soccer Brings Community to Campus With Youth Clinics

Contributed by Laura Williamson

Contributed by Laura Williamson

Contributed by Laura Williamson

Contributed by Laura Williamson

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With their 2015 seasons behind them, the men’s and women’s soccer teams have been running clinics together for local youth soccer teams in Walla Walla. These clinics are a great opportunity for the teams to connect with the community in a fun way outside of their own games. The clinics are also a chance for the young players on local teams to play with older, more experienced players and see what they could become if they keep playing and working on their game.

The Whitman players and coaches only had a few hours to work with the teams, but they were still able to work on a lot of different things and noticed improvements even in just one brief training session.

“We set up three different clinics for three different age groups and went over some of the basics of soccer: footwork, technical skills, speed, agility, scoring, attacking, and defending,” said junior Tray Foy.

Foy was particularly impressed by the skill level of the young players attending the clinics.

“It was cool to see how the younger kids are developing at such a faster rate than we did. They’re already doing moves like step-overs which is insane,” he said.

Men’s head coach Jose Cedeno was also very pleased with the clinics and what the Whitman players were able to get out of it.

“We have had a great experience, the kids are great. We had a few players from each team helping out, and they were very enthusiastic and they gave us great feedback afterwards saying they had had a lot of fun,” said Cedeno.

For the players, it wasn’t only about having fun and giving back to the community, but also about growing as individual leaders.

“We just wanted to reach out to the community and put our players in a position to be role models and leaders,” Cedeno added.

The men’s and women’s teams sometimes have indoor pickup games together, but in general they spend most of the season doing their own practices and training sessions separately. These clinics are a great chance to work together and show young kids that boys and girls can play on the same field, as women’s head coach Laura Williamson discussed.

“It’s fun to do it as both the men’s and the women’s programs together and give our players an opportunity to work with one another,” she said. “It’s a cool experience for [the kids] and to show them men’s and women’s players playing together was a good experience. It’s nice to give youth in the town an opportunity to play together. Often they get broken up by gender at an early age so it’s cool to offer them an opportunity [to play together]”.

The families of the kids involved enjoyed what the Whitman soccer program brought to their local youth teams and even went out of their way to thank them and acknowledge what a great experience it had been.

 “We got emails from parents who acknowledged and were thankful for what we had done for their kids and letting us know they had a great experience,” said Cedeno.

These clinics were a huge success overall, and they point to the growing popularity of soccer in the United States. This country didn’t even have a professional soccer league 25 years ago, and now there are Division III college teams running clinics for local youth teams. The future of the game is bright, as more and more kids are playing soccer as their first sport from a very young age and being trained by experienced coaches and, for the lucky teams such as the ones in Walla Walla, getting a chance to attend clinics with local collegiate level teams.

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