The number of specialty sport camps have blossomed in recent years.
A recent New York Times report suggests the number of summer camps designed specifically for an individual sport has increased by nearly 25 percent within a 10-year period. The same article looked at a soccer camp in California’s Silicon Valley which jumped 10 times its initial size over a 15-year period.
Though soccer continues to trail football, baseball and basketball in popularity, those numbers suggest America’s youth is catching on to the rest of the world’s love affair with the sport.
Jeff Guinn has been around the game of soccer long enough to recognize a change.
The Delmar native has coached the game for nearly 30 years — 29 years with the Bethlehem Soccer Club and another 22 years as the head coach of Union College’s soccer program.
“I take from what I learned from being a pro,” said Guinn. “But, the sign of any good coach, you take and borrow from others along the way, too.”
The game is more accessible to today’s children. Where games featuring the world’s top talent was once limited to a single cable network, Guinn said kids can access highlights of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo on demand through the internet. It’s now common to see those same names scripted across the backs of his campers each summer.
Prokick Soccer is more like an academy than a day camp, said Guinn. Children enrolled into the program have a genuine interest in the game. Days focus on both individual skills and team working exercises.
Guinn said he’s able to incorporate his unique experience as a soccer professional into his campers’ lessons.
After playing for North Carolina State University, Guinn played seven years as a pro for the Albany Capitals.
Guinn said he won’t promise that each of his campers will become collegiate or professional soccer players, but there is one goal he hopes they all achieve.
“We don’t promise the kids will be pros once they leave,” said Guinn, “but, we do focus on making sure they leave here learning at least something new.”
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.