A learning experience for all

Veteran coach broadens his resume with camp

The teacher and the students were learning this week at the Woodbury Fields.

"It's definitely been a learning experience for both," said Gavin Tait, a professional soccer coach from the United Kingdom. "It's my first camp, so I'm learning what works and what doesn't."

Tait is the camp instructor of the Challenger British Soccer Camp program that is in Craig this week. This is Tait's first year with the camp.

"I use the Challenger guidelines and my experience to put the camp together," said the professional coach of 20 years. "The kids have taken to it."

The 12 soccer players in the afternoon session for the 10- to 14-year-olds were enjoying themselves during a brief break Thursday.

Several of the campers had earned nicknames for the week, such as Brian Davidson's new name of "tall boy."

Nicknames weren't the only new attributes the campers took home from the camp.

"I've learned a lot about strategy and some new techniques," said Katherine "Kat" Thompson, 10. "And Friday we get treats."

The Thompson family hosted Tait during the week.

"He taught us some funny sayings," Patrick Thompson said. "It's been fun."

Several times Thursday the campers had to have Tait repeat himself because they weren't sure what he said.

"He calls the ground the "floor," said Rose Howe, 9.

Colt Criswell's favorite lesson was how to curve the ball. That technique is called a banana kick.

The word banana was entertaining for the campers.

"He also says banana like banohna," Cole DuBois said.

DuBois is a veteran of the Challenger camps, and he said a new aspect that Tait brought that he hadn't seen at camp before were agility drills.

"We haven't had the agility stuff before," he said. "It adds another aspect that is good for overall skills."

Tait brought his own agility equipment.

"It's important to have agility and balance," he said. "Everybody has really liked the drills."

Some of the agility drills in--cluded bounding around poles, quick step techniques and jumping over small hurdles.

Tait said he wanted to combine fun and technique for his camp.

"It's important to make it memorable on both the fun and technical part," he said. "Then it may help ignite a passion for the sport."

In the afternoon session, there was a mixture of experienced soccer players with the first-timers.

"There is a good mix with a couple of good players," Tait said. "The younger group is mostly here for fun."

About 30 campers attended the two sessions during the week. The Craig Youth Soccer Association makes the arrangements for Challenger to bring camp counselors every year.

"I have a lot of respect for people like Ray DuBois," Tait said. "It takes a lot of work to organize and run a youth soccer program."

With the help of Challenger, the CYSA hopes that the program will continue to grow.

David Pressgrove can be reached at 970-824-7031 x211 or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com

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