D2 soccer camp has record attendance in 2021

By SETH HAGAN | Special to the Reporter

The Dynamic Development Soccer Camp concluded this past Saturday, June 26 making it eight consecutive years for camp director Dan DeMasters and his staff.

The camp has grown exponentially over the years, even pulling off a socially-distanced event last summer, and this year’s version was a triumphant return to business as usual.

DeMasters, who runs the soccer program for Alabaster City Schools and coaches Thompson High School’s girls soccer team, had to put together his biggest staff to date to meet a record enrollment for Dynamic Development’s 2021 camp.

“We started out eight years ago, it feels like yesterday, with 37 campers and it started small, but it had to start somewhere so to get a record of 175 plus kids is humbling,” DeMasters said. “It’s humbling that parents trust you, and I think COVID had something to do with it because parents probably want to get their kids out of the house now.”

The camp took place on Thompson High School’s campus, but DeMasters has coaching roots going back to his time at Oak Mountain and has been coaching players in the greater-Birmingham area for some time.

It’s one of the reasons his soccer camps have grown and have kids coming from miles around to learn from some of the premier soccer minds in the state.

“We’ve got kids from all over, obviously a lot from the Alabaster area, but Helena, Calera, Oak Mountain, Mountain Brook as well. So we have people coming from all over to camp, which is great,” he said.

Several camp MVPs have gone on to play soccer at the Division I level, garnering All-State and All-American status along the way.

DeMasters goes to great lengths to field a top notch group of coaches as well as former and current players to give eager young soccer players the best possible experience to grow their skill set. “

We had the biggest staff we’ve ever had, about 30 people total,” he said. “I think we had 21 state championships between them all, 24 staff members played at the collegiate level and five of them won Gatorade Player of the Year in their state.”

The camp’s longevity is a credit to those players and coaches who chose to come and give back to the next generation of student-athletes. That longevity has also given DeMasters a chance to now place former campers on staff.

“One of the coolest stories I have is about Mary Paige McDonald, who was one of my senior captains this year. She came and worked with us last week, but what’s cool is she was the MVP in the second year of the camp when I was at Oak Mountain,” DeMasters said. “That’s the fulfilling part of it. I’m not a businessman. I teach and it’s fulfilling to see kids pass along information that I’ve taught them. And when they come back and want to work with us, it just means we’re doing something right.

“We’ve gotten tons of emails complementing our coaches and I pass that along,” DeMasters said. “I tell them, ‘You’re role models now’ and a lot of young coaches don’t understand the impact they can have until they get a little older. We have an awesome staff, and I demand a lot from them too.”

If soccer’s popularity spike caught you by surprise, it’s because it’s still a relatively young sport around here despite perhaps being the most popular sport the world over.

“When I got down here eight years ago soccer had been in Alabama for around 30 years and that sounds like a long time, but it’s still a very young sport here,” DeMasters said. “So when I arrived, there weren’t this many people playing the game, whether you’re talking about club soccer or just in general. So the growth of the sport contributes to better coaches coming to the area and, as a result, better players coming out of the state.”