West Forsyth Kids Soccer Camp held last week

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 27, 2024

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By Jay Spivey 

For the Clemmons Courier

CLEMMONS — West Forsyth has two very successful soccer programs, and it’s summer. So, why not have a soccer camp? 

That’s exactly what West Forsyth did. From Monday through Wednesday of last week, the West Forsyth Kids Soccer Camp was held on-campus, which included boys and girls, who were rising first- through eighth-graders, from 9 a.m.-noon each day. And each child had a chance to go through skills sessions, goalkeeper sessions, competitions and “Soccer Olympics.” 

The Titans’ boys finished last season 20-1-2 and the girls finished 17-4-1. Jeffrey Williams, who was the head coach for both of those teams, was a big part of the camp last week. However, Williams stepped down as the boys coach this past January, but he remained as the girls coach. John Blake, who was hired as the boys coach after previously coaching at Ledford, also helped run the camp. In addition, Paul Hicks, who used to be the boys soccer coach at Reagan, was also there helping Williams and Blake.  

According to Blake, Williams was more of the camp director and Blake and Hicks organized the sessions.  

“I’ve had an annual kids camp ever since probably 2016, and then we took a couple years off from COVID,” Williams said. “So, when John (Blake) came aboard this spring I talked to him and asked him if he wanted to do it together.” 

There was another element to what Williams and Blake decided for the camp. 

“After talking with Coach Williams, we decided just to put our camps together just to kind of make sure that our teams were building the right culture,” Blake said. 

According to Williams, there were 43 kids – 23 girls and 20 boys — who took part in the camp last week. 

“There was a lot of camps, soccer camps (last) week, and there’s obviously all sorts of other youth camps,” Williams said. “There’s probably no good time to plan a camp to get everybody.” 

The camp provided something there for all the children who were there, no matter the skill level. 

“There was a little bit of everything,” Williams said. “Some technical stuff with passing and shooting and dribbling, but also some game-play stuff with a little mix of tactical awareness. So, it was a mixture every day. Generally, the last hour of the day they got to play against each other in some form.” 

Williams, Blake and Hicks weren’t the only people there to help run the camp. A number of West Forsyth boys and girls soccer players assisted. 

“We had somewhere between 20-25 high-schoolers each day to help out, both girls and guys,” Williams said. “We told them like, ‘Hey, this will help support West Forsyth soccer.’ But a lot of them took part in the camp when they were smaller, too.” 

It was extremely hot last week, so they had to take frequent breaks. However, West Forsyth, for the first time for one of these youth camps, had access to its new soccer field house with air conditioning. 

“We could send the kids in there and tell them to stay in there for 10 minutes or so and let them cool down,” Williams said. 

Whether these youth players ever end of playing soccer at West Forsyth the camp provided something else. 

“I think that’s the most important part about coaching is building relationships that last beyond the time you have them at West,” Blake said. “And also, it helps from a community and that’s really what we want to build is a really strong community and culture.” 

It was also important for Blake because the camp was his first time to coach at West Forsyth in an official capacity. In the meantime, the boys were having summer workouts last week as they prepare for practice to officially start of fall practice on July 31. 

“It’s super-important for me to kind of get engrained in the community and get to know the young kids, you know, Meadowlark and Clemmons (middle schools) and those areas and middle-schools, and also in elementary schools, just so they can see my face. It’s not just a name.” 

The youth players also receive something tangible. 

“They get a t-shirt, we feed them and some of the proceeds go back into the soccer program,” Williams said. “But the main reason why we do it is to develop those relationships. Whether they come to West Forsyth or not because you should see the kids when we say, ‘Hey, everybody gets a locker.’” 

As the camp wound down last week, the youth players had a chance to feel like they were a Titan. 

“On Wednesday, the last day, everybody had a number and one of our soccer players who helps us coach as well, he announced their names, like as if everybody was in the starting lineup. We want to expose them to a little bit of what high school is like.” 

“They enjoy it, and I kept telling them I would try to feed them on the last day,” Williams said. “We got pizzas this year that we all paid for and thanked them for the help. That’s really what the kids campers like the most are the high-schoolers.” 

Pizza wasn’t the only reward. 

“We made sure they got their Icee pops,” Blake said. “It’s super-important. They love it.”