Camp gives Western Slope soccer players exposure to bevy of college coaches
It’s a fact of life for soccer players on the Western Slope: If you don’t venture to the Front Range or Salt Lake City for camps and tournaments, it’s hard to get noticed by college coaches outside of Colorado.
It’s easier and more economical from a monetary and time standpoint for coaches to go to larger metro areas to evaluate talent.
But for Western Slope players, the travel can get expensive, maybe even unaffordable.
That’s why the start of Western Slope Showcase Camp this year could be the answer for some Western Slope soccer players to get noticed. Grand Junction’s Fire FC is hosting the camp June 24–27 at Canyon View Park, and the hope of the organizers is to get about 100 players to participate in front of a host of college coaches who have committed to come to the camp.
The number of colleges sending coaches stood at 17 as of Wednesday with recognizable names from Colorado, such as the University of Denver and Colorado School of Mines, plus 10 other states: Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota and Utah.
“Kids don’t feel like they get enough exposure,” said Shaun Howe, director of Fire FC, which has more than 1,500 kids participating in youth soccer in the Grand Valley. “You can do this in your backyard for a couple hundred dollars and be seen by coaches they probably wouldn’t see (if not for the showcase camp).”
Howe said he organized similar showcase camps in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for three years and was pleased with the success of the camps. The showcase camp will provide 90-minute training sessions with each coach, and games will be played in the afternoons.
Howe said players ages 15 to 18 from all over the Western Slope can participate, but they must sign up for all four days. Cost of the camp is $200.
Palisade High School girls soccer coach Raina Sorensen said the showcase camp meets a need on the Western Slope.
“To have something that comes to the Grand Valley really helps,” she said. “Otherwise they have to travel, go to camps at the colleges. ... It’s hard (to get coaches to come to the Western Slope) because the population is so small here. It’s a lot easier for a coach to make one trip to the Front Range, hit Denver, then Colorado Springs, then Pueblo.”
Steve White understands the need for the showcase camp from both sides. He’s now Glenwood High School’s coach for the boys and girls soccer teams, and he wants his players to have opportunities to play in college. Before that, he coached men’s and women’s soccer at Colorado Mountain College, where he knew the rigors of recruiting and the value of showcase camps bringing large pools of talent to one place.
White echoed Sorensen’s thoughts about the need to go to Denver or to a college to get noticed. As a result, many talented players go unnoticed outside of Colorado.
“I think there’s a lot of talent in Western Colorado that doesn’t get the opportunity to take that next step,” he said.
Howe said he thinks this year’s showcase camp is a good start, and he thinks it can grow the number of players participating and coaches attending in the coming years. He thinks soccer parents will quickly grasp the camp’s value, too.
“When parents see there is opportunity beyond high school for their kids, that (their kids will) be able to get money (athletic and academic) to play in college, they’ll get more involved,” he said.
Players can register for the camp at gjsoccer.org, and they can call 242-4550 for more information about the Western Slope Showcase Camp.