World-class soccer players connect with kidsFor the last five years, toward the end of July, some of the world’s best soccer players get a kick out of coming to Alexandria.
By: By Heather Huwe, Intern Reporter, Alexandria Echo Press
For the last five years, toward the end of July, some of the world’s best soccer players get a kick out of coming to Alexandria.
Their goal: Sharing their skills and techniques with young people.
Cardinal Soccer Camp will be held the mornings of July 26 through July 30 at Jefferson High School. The camp is for boys and girls, kindergarten through 6th grade.
Tom Roos, the Cardinal girls soccer team head coach, has directed the summer camp for the last 12 years, along with Amy Korynta, former girls head coach.
“I am really proud to be able to bring some of the best soccer coaches right here to Alexandria for our local youth. Besides being former pro soccer players, these coaches care about kids, have great family values and are great examples and role models for our kids,” said Roos.
The idea began five years ago to bring in top guest coaches from around the state to work with the kids.
Roos approached Jeff Wild, general manager of Arrowwood Resort, with the idea of Arrowwood providing accommodations for the guest coaches and their families. Wild was happy to help to create an opportunity for local kids to meet and learn from top athletes and coaches.
The guest coaches have professional playing experience in North America, Central and South America, Europe and Asia.
This year, the guest coaches will also be holding training sessions for the high school girls team.
This year’s guest coaches include Chato Alvarado, Gerard Lagos and Pepe Jon Chavez.
Alvarado is a Costa Rican native who played professional soccer for San Carlos in Costa Rica’s Premier league and then played professionally for the Minnesota Thunder. He’s helped instruct at the camp for four years. He brings fun and energy to the field and the kids enjoy his teaching, Roos noted.
Alvarado said he has enjoyed coaching every year. “The kids are great; they come with lots of enthusiasm to learn and to have fun,” he added.
He also mentioned that the activities are selected to match each groups’ needs and abilities. The younger campers play games that focus on soccer skills, including sharks and minnows, hurricanes and ladders, green monster and many more. The older groups are more focused on technical and tactical aspects of the game.
Alvarado added the focus of the camp is to make sure each participant enjoys and learns about the game of soccer. He said the camp’s great success is because of the hard work and tremendous job Roos has put into it.
He also credited Wild for offering rooms at Arrowwood Resort. He added his wife, daughter and son look forward to staying at Arrowwood each year.
Lagos’ professional career has included playing for the Minnesota Thunder to playing professionally in France and Spain. He has also played on the U.S. National Team. The Lagos family is considered the first family of Minnesota soccer. Lagos’ father, Buzz, was a former amateur and professional coach, and a founder and longtime coach of the Thunder. Lagos’ brother, Manny, played on the U.S. Olympic team and had a long career in Major League Soccer, playing for San Jose Earthquake and the Chicago Fire after his years with the Thunder.
Chavez is the head coach of the men’s and women’s soccer team at Bethel College. His playing career includes professional leagues in Peru and Mexico.
Not only do the coaches have deep soccer backgrounds, they also demonstrate a great ability to work with youth, Roos said. The guest coaches bring a sense of strong character and family values to the community and camp, he added.
Kids can register through Lakes Area Recreation. The cost of the camp is $37. Shin guards are recommended for younger grades, required for older elementary grades. Tennis shoes are fine for younger grades but soccer shoes are recommended for older elementary grades.
The camp schedule for each grade is:
•9 to 10 a.m. for kindergarten and 1st graders.
•10 to 11 a.m. for 2nd and 3rd graders.
•11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for 4th through 6th graders.