Not all kids will become soccer sensations, but they all get their kicks at camp

Soccer camp provided room for Worthington area youths to run around and have fun, and maybe learn something important about the sport.

Soccer Camp 1
Coaches Jud Conner and Morgan Keivstead work with the 7-and-8-year-olds at a soccer camp at Buss Field in Worthington. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- The mind wanders. How many of the kids running around Buss Field this week will someday distinguish themselves in soccer, competing in state high school tournaments and (dare we to dream?) bending it on the world stage?

Such aspirations may not have crossed the minds of parents who signed their children up for the Dakota Alliance Soccer Club camp in Worthington.

Andrew Carlson, age 5, was one of the campers.

“This would be his first time in soccer,” said his dad, Josh. “He’s in wrestling and T-ball, though. Baseball isn’t active enough for him, and neither is wrestling. This one, he gets to run around more often and kick something. He’s got so much energy, plus he’s really excited about kicking a ball.”

Yes, it’s not always necessary that their kids get started on the way to becoming the next David Beckham. Sometimes it’s enough just to allow their rambunctiousness to have a safe outlet.


Andrew, said Josh, is always kicking things in the house. “We always tell him not to kick. This way, he gets to have his fun.”

The Dakota Alliance Soccer Club, which operates out of Sioux Falls, S.D., holds youth camps throughout the region. It also provides recreational leagues, hosts tournaments, and trains coaches and referees. The Worthington camp took place Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at Buss Fields and was organized into two groups. Recruits between the ages of 3 and 10 began their activities at 8:30 a.m., and those in the 11-to-19 range started at 10 a.m.

In the earlier session, kids were divided into threes -- ages 3-6 on one patch of turf, ages 7-8 on another, and ages 9-10 on yet another. The youngest players began by touching the ball and kicking it around cones set in the grass. The middle group practiced kicking their balls up the field in a straight line. And the oldest group attempted to score goals against some opposition. Later, kids worked on more advanced stuff, like making “creative moves.” Then came the simulated games.

Melissa Schutz’s 8-year-old daughter Ava is new to soccer. She likes volleyball and gymnastics the most, said her mom.

“It’s nice to have this opportunity to try other things,” Melissa said. “I suggested we try some different sports this summer. We tried basketball, too, and she liked that. Probably the most important thing in the summer is to keep kids busy.”

Chantel Saufley had two of her kids in the Dakota Alliance camp. Preston, age 4, was in attendance as well as his older sister, Bria, who has played the sport since the age of 2 in pre-school.

Age 2? Isn’t that a little early for soccer?

No, said Chantel, “because she was potty-trained.”


Preston and Bria’s mom had simple expectations for the camping experience. “Maybe just some new skills, like maybe handling the ball and dribbling. I think maybe some advanced things that they don’t learn in pre-school,” Chantel said.

Moments before the Tuesday camp session started, some of the younger kids needed to be coaxed by a parent. One of them, obviously in the 3-6-year-old category, received a gentle nudge from his dad. He appeared, for a brief moment, about to cry. He didn’t, though. He was brave.

Elsewhere, a mother let go of her child and said the three magic words, “I love you.”

Such are the beginnings of how legends are made.

Soccer Camp 2
Kaylee Leuthold and Preston Saufley, in the 3-to-6-year-old group, race after the ball at soccer camp. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

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