Kodak moments: D2 soccer camp growing the sport at local level
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
ALABASTER – In a staff meeting following the third day of the Dynamic Development soccer camp on Wednesday, June 19, hosted at Thompson High School, several staffers huddle around camp director and D2 leader Dan DeMasters before starting to poke fun at him for his infamous sayings, including the phrase “Kodak moment.”
DeMasters said it was the first time during the week that the staffers had made fun of him for that, but it also summed up the week the kids had of creating “Kodak moments” at the first of two D2 camps this summer.
“The best part of camp for me is getting to see old friends, whether they be players or coaches, and getting to meet new campers and old campers,” DeMasters. “I love all of the aspects of our camp, but forming those relationships is what makes it all so special.”
That recipe hasn’t just helped DeMasters become one of the state’s best soccer coaches, but he now puts on one of the most sought after soccer camps in the Birmingham metro area.
In its sixth year, the 2019 version of the D2 camp was split into two locations with the first week taking place at Thompson High School, where he now coaches and is the director of soccer operations, while the second week of the camp is held at Westminster at Oak Mountain.
When the camp originally started, it hosted a total of 37 campers. The camp grew so much in his first five years hosting it at Oak Mountain, that last year a total of 132 campers showed up, which caused him to split it into two locations this summer.
Even with that split, the numbers have been incredible with more than 70 showing up for the camp in Alabaster and more than 90 scheduled to show up to the camp at Westminster.
“I call this a business even though the majority of it happens in one or two weeks a year,” DeMasters said. “I want to run it as professionally as I can to give them and my staff the best experience I can give them. I just have a love for this sport and am trying to do whatever I can to help others have fun playing it as well.”
DeMasters said he knows a big reason it is so successful is because he surrounds himself with a great staff that enjoys having fun and making the camp as memorable as possible.
“A lot of these guys I’ve coached, and they don’t mind coming back because they’ve been with me and know me and know how I do things,” he said.
And that’s where the Kodak moments start.
When those current college players or coaches and former players of his come back, DeMasters makes sure to invite them over to the house, go get lunch or dinner with them and spend as much time with them as possible.
Those relationships are what matter to him, and it’s almost like a never-ending circle.
During the camp, he meets new kids, some he will coach and some he won’t, meets new parents and has new staff members join his crew. His main goal is to get to know each of them and create a lasting relationship, while also sharing his love for the game with each moment creating a new memory.
“I like to reach out to different people and different communities to form those relationships,” DeMasters said.
DeMasters even makes sure to host a parents night, where he can meet the families and have the kids showcase everything in front of their parents.
Throughout the week, campers in attendance participated in different drills and competitions both soccer related and non-soccer related.
“It mixes well so that the soccer players can leave camp knowing they did something in the soccer world, and then the kids that are just coming to enjoy it, they can do those non-soccer things and still feel included,” Demasters said.
The soccer related drills and games included “Fast Feet” training, individual skill training, small-sided games, a knockout three-on-three tournament, World Cup games and skills competitions.
While each of those brought out the competitive side of the campers, so did the non-soccer related competitions, which included wacky Wednesday, uniform day, a talent show and soccer millionaire.
At the end of each day, winners from different categories are announced, and a camper of the day is also announced and posted to social media sites recognizing their efforts.
“It includes a lot of people,” DeMasters said. “I have a lot of people saying they have fun, but they’re exhausted and work so hard and learn so much. It’s great to see that they can work hard, be tired and have fun all at the same time. A lot of people look at a camp and think it has to be either just fun or just structured, but it can be everything.”
The camp has had such an outreach that kids from Arizona and Colorado coming into town to visit family are going to spend the week at the Westminster portion of the camp.
For each of those kids, as for every kid, coach, player and friend DeMasters comes across, he’ll hope to create more “Kodak moments” that continue to embody what Dynamic Development is all about.