Hein finds Wynalda on Facebook, brings him to Walker Field

Eric Wynalda works with young soccer players, from all over the Western Slope at his Soccer Academy, soccer clinic at Walker Field, Mesa St College.

Christi Hein knew it would be hard to take her family to a soccer camp in Southern California.

So to Hein, the easiest solution was to bring the Southern California camp to Grand Junction.

Hein, the administrator of the U8 through U12 divisions for the Grand Junction Soccer Club, had National Soccer Hall of Famer Eric Wynalda putting on a striker clinic Monday at Mesa State College’s Walker Field.

Today, the first Surf and Sand Soccer Camp at begins Canyon View Park.

Wynalda is one of the most prolific goal scorers in U.S. soccer history, and a social networking Web site helped bring him to Grand Junction for the clinic. Wynalda attended Westlake High School in California with Hein, and recently Hein reconnected with the soccer great on Facebook.

“He saw that I was doing the Surf and Sand, and said he wanted to come out and do something,” Hein said. “He was a catalyst for American soccer.”

Wynalda’s camp was limited to 40 participants ages 10-14, and Hein said it had filled up by the third day of registration.

“He wants kids to get into the mindset of a scorer, what they can do with the ball on their foot,” Hein said. “We’re going to try to get him for a longer camp.”

Wynalda’s message to the campers was self-discovery through soccer.

“I know a lot about trying to help kids find themselves,” Wynalda said. “If we spend all of our time trying to turn kids into what we think they should be, it’s not good. We have to let go and let kids play the game on their terms, and that’s where great players come from.”

Wynalda added that working with young players allows him to see athletes who still have a pure outlook on the game.

“These kids are playing the game for the right reasons,” Wynalda said. “In soccer you find you are your best teacher. Every kid is different, and it’s about personality in the game.”

The Surf and Sand camp is something Hein has wanted to do since she moved to Grand Junction four years ago. It’s a girls-only camp with the ages ranging from 8-18, and featuring five collegiate soccer players from UCLA serving as instructors.

Hein taught one of the instructors, Caitlyn MacKechnie, when she was an English teacher at Oaks Christian High School in Westlake Village, Calif. MacKechnie went onto have an illustrious career at UCLA, making the NCAA final four all four years she was on the team.

Hein had been trying to get MacKechnie to Grand Junction for a camp before this year, but MacKechnie’s demands for the UCLA soccer team prevented that from happening.

Now that MacKechnie has graduated, she rounded up her sister, Hannah, a sophomore on the UCLA soccer team, and teammate Erin Hardy, UCLA men’s player Scott Hollingshead and Long Beach State soccer player Tiffany Vaught to teach at the Grand Junction camp.

“I think there needs to be a camp run by someone from a different region,” Hein said. “It’s great to bring the experiences of a Division I school here.”

The Surf and Sand camp’s attendance was also capped, and Hein said that was to keep more one-on-one instruction.

“We are going to be working on offense and defense but also a lot of individual technique,” Hein said.


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