EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – While there was no singing of Kumbaya or roasting marshmallows around the camp fire, there was a similar fellowship and bonding for a shared interest at the Egg Harbor Township girls soccer camp this week.
Fifty-five girls ages 7-14 – more than double the amount for the first camp six years ago – attended the four-day camp, run by EHT High School girls varsity soccer coach Christian Wiech and his staff, along with a crew of juniors and seniors from the high school soccer program.
“It’s just amazing teaching the little kids because they have such passion and so much energy,” said Alexa Rosenberg, a high school soccer player and camp “alumnus.”
“We have passion for the sport, too, so all this passion put together is just beautiful,” Rosenberg said. “Just seeing everybody share the love of the game is great. Everybody has something in common, no matter what the age difference. We all love the same sport.”
Wiech said one of the “coolest” things about the camp is the involvement of the older girls, many of whom attended the camp in its earlier years.
“Seeing how much it means to them and they look forward to it even though they’re just volunteering to work it,” Wiech said. “They want to now be that person for the little kids.”
“I love kids and I love soccer, so putting it together is just perfect,” said Tori Eckel, another high school player. “It’s weird being the staff now because I used to be young and I looked up to everyone who was the staff before. I still feel like I’m eight years old.”
The camp is a crash course in the fundamentals of the sport, as well as an introduction to the high school soccer program.
“The incoming freshmen and the high school players … get to know each other and get to know the school. It’s a little bit like an orientation for them,” Wiech said. “It just gives them a sense of pride in playing for Egg Harbor Township, and an excitement to come to the high school and be a part of the program.”
Wiech said the increase in campers is a testament to the growth of youth soccer in the township. But the camp has also contributed to that growth: several current and former EHT high school players, including Hannah Richman, Jordyn Martini, Stefania Piantadosi and Siani Magruder, attended the youth camp and are either playing college soccer or have verbally agreed to play at the collegiate level.
“It’s a collective effort, with the (high school) booster club and the various soccer clubs in the area,” Wiech said. “You see the results of all the youth programs as it grows, and hopefully as we start to develop a perennial successful program at the high school, these kids will just keep coming in and be part of that culture. You see that with the youth coaching. It’s so much better than 15, 20 years ago. That’s because soccer is becoming more of a mainstay in people’s households.”
To see more photos and a video from the girls soccer camp, go to shorenewstoday.com/sports.