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Local coaches come together for youth soccer camp

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For a week this summer, local soccer coaches will be putting their differences and rivalries aside to come together for one common cause.

Anderson Coach Larry Lankford will be running his fifth soccer camp through the Anderson program and is bringing with him a plethora of familiar downriver faces.

Gabriel Richard Coach Matt Quirk, Allen Park Coach Justin Hunter, Anderson junior varsity Coach Bernie Turner and a handful of Anderson soccer alumni will be in attendance, offering their various levels of expertise.

The camp runs from June 24-28 for soccer players of all levels from ages 6-18, both boys and girls.

Players will be broken into age groups and girls will run from 10-1, while the boys run from 2-5.

On Saturday, all players are in attendance from 10-4 and the coaches host the soccer Olympics.

The day is filled with competitions, award ceremonies and a pizza party.

During the week, it’s all about soccer skills. The camp starts with technical foot skills and works through passing to small-sided team games.

By Wednesday the players are having full scrimmages by age group and the individual competitions fall on Saturday.

Other exciting opportunities include an obstacle course, a kicking accuracy challenge and 3v3 tournaments.

“There’s a little bit of everything in the camp,” Lankford said. “We try to make it fun.”

First, second and third place awards are given out for individual competitions as well as awards for team competition, sportsmanship awards for each age group and a Camp MVP.

Choosing coaches was simple for Lankford, who has a good relationship with the area’s coaches after coaching both the boys’ and girls’ varsity squads at Anderson.

“I wanted to get some experienced coaches,” he said. “We have coaches that’ll help make it fun and make learning fun.”

Anderson standout alumni returning include 2014 graduate Andrea Thornsberry and 2013 graduate Bailey Fast.

“The younger kids love working with Bailey,” Lankford said. “I bring back the kids who have a good knowledge of the game to make it fun.”

Lankford has been running soccer camps on and off since 1991 and looks forward to players returning year after year.

“My juniors have been in all three years,” he said. “I’ve got a 9-year-old coming back for her third camp and a young man going into eighth grade.

“We have a pretty decent return.”

The camp will be capped at 100 kids so ensure each camper gets adequate attention.

“We don’t want too many kids with one coach,” Lankford said. “We want them to get the individual attention they deserve.

“It’s very important that we don’t overload the coaches or underwhelm the kids.”

Lankford said it is also important to him that his prices have been the same since 1991.

“I want more kids to participate,” he said. “This is not a big money making machine.

“Kids playing is more important than us making a big profit. I charged $50 for my first camp in 1991 (and) I keep it the same because I want the kids to keep coming.”

Any proceeds from the camp will go back into the Anderson soccer program for updated equipment and uniforms.

This year’s campers will get a special bonus when they sign up for the Anderson camp.

Anyone who participates in Lankford’s camp will be invited to attend a free weekend camp in July, tentatively the 18, at Heritage Park.

“It’s a free camp in July with college and high school coaches,” Lankford said. “Basically they’re gonna get seven days of soccer for 50 bucks.”

Lankford’s camp will be held at Davidson Middle School.

The cost of the camp is $50 and $62 if you want a camp t-shirt. Groups of five or more will get 10 percent off of the fee.

The deadline to sign up us June 20. Lankford can be reached at lank6904@yahoo.com or 248-891-0843.

Last Updated: 6/5/2014 8:23:32 PM EST