Soccer club preaches consistent message
Standing on the goal line during the drill, Bob Martin looked out on a sea of international soccer. Represented in the crowd were jerseys from Brazil, Spain, United States, England and more. There were screams and chants, and soccer players pleaded with Martin, a longtime soccer personality in Park City, to toss them the ball.
Martin obliged some and faked out others, but when a youngster curled in a 20-yard shot, the coaching director for the Park City Soccer Club cheered and took a friendly bow.
Thursday represented the last day of the Park City Soccer Club summer soccer camp at Willow Creek Park for kids ages 7 to 17. Roughly 130 players crowded the various soccer fields in the Basin partaking in a variety of drills and scrimmages.
"We want kids to be able to come and play and have the game teach them," Martin said after stonewalling a number of shots in the 1-on-20 drill.
Martin said there used to be two specific summer camps held by the Park City Soccer Club, but they have since been combined. The mornings of the camp featured drills and technical tests, with the afternoon bringing a tournament appropriately called World Cup.
The Park City Soccer Club is also scheduled to hold an academy camp July 16-19 for kids ages 6 to 9, Martin said, after a number of requests from parents and players who participate in the fall and winter camps. Following that will be the club’s summer league, where kids ages 7 to 17 will be able to get good taste of competition every Wednesday night through August.
Martin said perhaps his biggest coup of the summer has been adding to a professional coaching staff. Former Park City High School and University of Utah star Kelly Isleib enters her second year as a coach. Fellow Miner star, and former University of Washington goalkeeper, Alex Phillips is in the process of helping out the club as well.
"I’ve really been wanting to grow our women’s staff," he said, "because I think it’s great to have women coaching girls. It used to be one woman — and nine guys."
Also included in the mix is Laurel Simpson-Roderick, a former defender at Brigham Young University and assistant coach at the University of Utah for eight years. Simpson-Roderick said she’s been a fill-in coach at various academy camps in the past, but she’s hoping to get back into coaching after going "a bit stir crazy" away from the game.
She said the club’s consistency is important to her as a coach teaching young athletes.
"This camp is definitely more about skills and development. It’s consistent development," she said. "You get different voices, but they’re all saying the same thing, which is unique in soccer because kids are always switching from club to club and coach to coach.
"They use the same language. It’s easy to use a cop-out like, ‘That coach told me to do it this way or that coach told me to do it that way,’ and all that stuff. If the coaches are all on the same page and within the same system, you can’t give yourself those breaks. It’s consistent and the expectations are known."
For Liam Heffernan, coach of the club’s U-9 and U-11 boys’ squads, the summer camp represents another avenue to discover and foster young talent.
"We’re more about developing a love for the game, with well-rounded, both-footed players," said Heffernan, a native of England, who has been with the club since 2003. "But not to the detriment of the teams and being able to teach these kids some moral ethic and some good football."
Heffernan, who played on a number of semi-pro teams around the country, said trying to find that delicate balance between wanting to win and keeping the youngsters always in tune is a fine line.
When one of his players hit the crossbar two times in a row, he called out for his coach and asked him what he needed to do.
"You’re getting under it," Heffernan told the youngster. "Get your knee above the ball a little bit more."
"I am doing that," the youngster retorted.
"Well, maybe you should coach, then," Heffernan said, laughing.
The Park City Soccer Club, which began in 1994, according to Martin, has been holding these summer camps for about a decade.
"Things are good," he said. "We just keep offering up opportunities for these kids to play."
For more information on the Park City Soccer Club, go to http://www.parkcitysoccer.org .
An attorney representing a critic of Park City’s plans to build restricted affordable housing in Old Town sent a letter urging officials to meet the same standards that would be required of a private-sector developer in the neighborhood.