MORRIS – Despite the being rained out last week and high temperatures this week, the Morris Redskins Soccer Junior Camp drew a lot of interest Saturday at the county field across from Shabbona School.
Morris boys soccer coach David Valdivia and members of his varsity team taught two groups of young soccer players the skills they will need to learn in order to be successful as they continue in the sport.
The first group was for players ages 4-6, and they learned the basic skills of the game. The older group, ages 7-13, were taught more advanced skills.
During the first session, the players began by lining up behind some of the varsity players and went through warm-up drills. In order to make it more fun, they pretended they were a train and made choo-choo noises.
Once they were warmed up, they raced from one end of the cones to the other, making it a competition and laughing all the way through.
They then were each given a soccer ball, and Valdivia and the soccer team led them through basic ball-handling drills.
"This is one of my favorite things to do," Valdivia said. "I love getting out here with the little kids and getting them involved in soccer. I hope to teach them to enjoy the game and then get them involved in the MSA [Morris Soccer Association]. The more kids we can get involved at a young age like this, the better it is for the MSA and for the high school program."
Valdivia noted that the camp was originally scheduled for the prior week, but the rain forced them to move it to this weekend.
"We said on the flyer that if it rained, we would go to the fieldhouse at the high school," he said. "But we thought it would be better to push it back and week and do it outside. Soccer is much better when it's played outside. We only had three people who signed up for last week that couldn't make it this week, so it worked out pretty well."
Valdivia estimated that he had 30 children signed up for the two camps, which is about the same size has he had last year.
"We hope to get a few more each year," he said. "As I said before, the more people we can get involved, the better."
Valdivia was assisted by Alyssa Samolis, who has been involved with the Morris Soccer Boosters for the last few years.
"I just love doing this," she said. "My son, Matt, was on the team a couple of years ago and I got to know all the kids. Now, I have younger kids coming through and I like to stay involved and get the other kids involved, too.
"This is a fun camp for the younger kids. They get a T-shirt and they can write their name on it, have the other kids in camp put their names on it and the varsity guys put their names on it. That way, they can remember the fun they had today."