A group of British coaches, most of whom have played semi-professionally in Europe, will teach hundreds of area 5- to 18-year-olds a combination of English and Brazilian-style play at four area Challenger British Soccer Camps over the next month. Challenger, in its third year of existence, was formed to raise the level of soccer around the world because of the increased interest in World Cup play.
"The English style is more playing long ball, where you kick from the back of the field and someone runs on it, more like lacrosse," explained Jonathon Bell, the mid-Atlantic regional director for Challenger. "The Brazilian style plays a lot of little passes and attacks more aggressively. Rather than coaching one style versus the other, what we did was bring both of those styles together for what we call total soccer, which covers all aspects of the game."
Approximately 75 athletes attended the Challenger camp in Calvert last year, but this year a second week had to be added to accommodate the more than 200 players who signed up through the Calvert Soccer Association. The first camp will run Monday through Friday at Calvert High, and the second will be held July 12 to 16 at Dunkirk District Park.
Community Services will sponsor the third camp, to be held July 19 to 23 at La Plata High School; the final area camp will be held Aug. 2 to 6 at White Plains Regional Park in Waldorf, with Waldorf Soccer Club as the sponsor.
"This is just the third summer for Challenger camps," Bell said. "The first year, we had 14,000 athletes participate. This year, we have 41,000 athletes in 41 different states. And we, of course, hope it continues to grow."
Bell said the camp is designed to focus the younger players on fundamentals, while the players over the age of 10 are given large doses of competitive game experience.
"[The British coaches] bring a lot of energy, especially to the younger age groups," said Leslie Boone, who coordinated the two camps in Calvert County. "For example, with the young kids, they'll set up four cones and tell the kids to pick their favorite car. Then they'll say, `This cone is McDonald's. Take your car to McDonald's.' Before they know it, the kids are dribbling the ball. Then they'll tell them to see how fast their car will go. It's all about learning and having fun."
New Season for Champions
Even when the under-17 Waldorf Piranhas won their first Washington Area Girls Soccer League Division 1 title this past season, members of the team knew they still had something to prove. Every player must earn their place on the roster each season, and on June 26, they got their chance -- Piranhas Coach Clarence Jones held an open tryout at the La Plata Courthouse field.
This practice has helped establish a tradition of intensity and competitive spirit, one that spurred the team to a 7-0-3 league record and the first-ever WAGS championship for a Southern Maryland team.
"We're still pinching ourselves that this is real," Jones said. "But each season we wipe the slate clean. [The tryouts] keep every girl on her toes, and they know they have to give their best every time. We had to cut players who'd been with us for a while because other girls came out and showed something. The girls down here can play soccer."
The Piranhas, who feature All-Extra players Shanann Cooksey (La Plata), Heather Jones (Westlake) and Julia Lufriu (McDonough), started in Division 5 in the spring of 1996 and worked their way up through WAGS quickly, winning three division titles and never finishing below second. Five players remain from the team's inaugural season.
"Clarence has really persevered, and as they win, they're attracting better players," said Waldorf Soccer Club president Cheryl Curry, who runs the only travel girls soccer program in Southern Maryland. "We've found that a lot of coaches are hesitant to go into WAGS because they're afraid of the competition. But this, hopefully, will encourage them."
Bowie 6th in Tourney
St. Mary's Ryken rising junior Ed Bowie shot 80-74-82 -- 236 to tie for sixth place in the Frank Emmet Schoolboy golf tournament, held Tuesday through Thursday at Montgomery Country Club. He was one of 11 players -- and the only one from Southern Maryland -- to survive the two cuts and play all three days.
His 74 on Wednesday was the low round of the day and tied for the fourth lowest of the tournament.
Bowie's 80 in the first round tied him for 15th and allowed him to make the first cut -- down to 30 players from 96. His 74 boosted him to fifth.
The Frank Emmet Schoolboy is sponsored by the Washington Metropolitan Golf Association and open only to those on their high school golf team. It began in 1927 as the Metropolitan Schoolboy tournament and has been the WMGA's high school championship ever since, except for a hiatus during World War II.
-- Brian Straus and scholastic staff member Mitch Rubin contributed to this report.