Helena soccer teams teach skills and make memories at annual kids camp

Published 7:59 pm Thursday, June 8, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

HELENA ­– The Helena Huskies boys and girls soccer teams traded their cleats for coaching whistles this week and hosted their soccer camp at Helena High from June 5-9.

This is the ninth year that the camp has run, and each year, the camp keeps growing. 178 campers attended the 2023 edition of the Helena Soccer Camp, and Helena varsity girls soccer coach Clif Naron said each year, the number of campers increases by 10-15%.

Each day, the campers played all kinds of drills and games to improve their soccer skills, from shooting, to passing, to dribbling, and even goalkeeping.

According to coach Naron, that’s not all that the camp is about.

“We run through some skill drills, but it’s really about building community,” coach Naron said.

Since Helena High and Middle are newer schools, the coaches have used this camp to help introduce soccer to the Helena community.

Coach Naron noted that the Huskies started with just 20 kids at their first soccer tryout, and now that number has grown as the years have gone on and the Huskies have excelled on the field alongside soccer’s rise in popularity in Alabama.

For the kids, the week was a fun chance to learn new skills and meet their Huskies heroes. But they weren’t the only ones to get something out of the camp.

Members of the boys and girls soccer teams from Helena High and Helena Middle ran each of the stations and coached the kids during the week. The players not only got to teach the kids what they had learned throughout the past season, but they also got to make friendships with the campers.

Teaching the campers means everything to the players, and the ones who used to come to camp haven’t forgotten what this week meant to them when they were younger.

“They love it,” coach Naron said. “A lot of our players you see here were campers at one time. So, they’re excited about it even down at the middle school. The boys and girls down there are volunteering every year: ‘Can we come? It’s our turn now. Can we come? Can we be part of it?’ It’s pretty exciting.”

Coach Naron noted that some of the kids who came to their original camp have grown up and played for the Huskies, and he’s gotten a front row seat to their development as players and people over the years.

“We’ve got kids now the last two or three years that were kids with us in soccer camp when they were little,” coach Naron said. “And it’s so awesome to see them come to camp every summer, and then watch them play in their club season, and then start playing with us. Two years ago, those kids started graduating (from Helena High) from the time when they first started coming from when they were little.”

While the week was obviously first and foremost for the kids, it may have been even more rewarding for the players, as they got a chance to meet the next generation of Huskies and leave an impact on them, just as the previous teams had done for them.