Focus on Fun: Women’s Soccer Team Runs Youth Clinics in the Community

By Purnell T. Cropper | May 15, 2012

Arcadia University’s Women’s Soccer program is known for its on-field success, but scoring goals and winning games isn’t all its student-athletes have to offer. The team recently held a youth soccer clinic for the Enon Youth Girls Soccer Program at Enon’s Bowl Field. The draw of a top women’s program and a fun environment brought out more than 80 young girls from the Enon program, despite heavy rain and cloudy skies.

Sixteen players and coaches from Arcadia ran two one-hour clinics on the day, with the first hour featuring the 4-6 and 7-9 year old age groups, while the 10-11s and 12-16s participated in the second hour. The clinics were heavily focused on being fun, while still bringing functional training into the experience. The Arcadia coaching staff gave the players a few pointers, but left it up to the NCAA Division III athletes to design and run the sessions.

“We worked on overall skills but we really wanted to make sure that all the girls had a good time,” noted Jackie Law ’13. “We had four or five drills that focused on passing and ball control, and then at the end the coaches scrimmaged against the girls. They loved this! Getting the players to enjoy themselves while playing was definitely the most important part.”

The clinics allowed for real connection between the Arcadia players and Enon girls in attendance. Arcadia University Head Coach Rick Brownell witnessed the fun environment and high level of interaction become a great point of conversation. “Comments were flying from all the Enon coaches and parents, who started each hour up on top of the Enon Bowl field and within minutes walked down to take pictures and join in the laughter that each group was creating,” he said.

Brownell and Enon Soccer Director, Nicole Swinson, took charge of coordinating the clinics for both organizations, and were thrilled with the great response that the clinic produced. “Not even questionable weather kept this clinic from being a major event,” Brownell said. “The feedback was just incredible and there was a true connection between each Arcadia soccer player, who commented on how much fun they had and every Enon girl in their respective group. The laughter in each training area was just infectious! The players and assistant coaches deserve all the credit.”

Brownell and Swinson have worked together before. The Enon Girls Soccer program was the brainchild of Swinson, just five years ago. Swinson had contacted Brownell for advice about how to run the league, and the rest is history. “I remember helping the Enon program get started with some simple advice. A coach’s clinic and a similar soccer clinic a few years back with only about 40 – 50 girls registered, so it’s great to see the growth of the program now up to 115 young girls…  a true compliment to the dedicated and supportive coaches at Enon.”

“The girls really enjoyed themselves. I have received many comments of appreciation about the clinic,” said Swinson. “If time ever permits it would be great if we could partner for another clinic before the season ends. The parents and players were screaming for more after practice.”

Jackie Law ’13, who is going into her senior season as a standout goalkeeper, reflected on her favorite part of participating in the clinics. “Being able to jump into the drills and play with the kids was great. I think that we, as older athletes, tend to see the game as stressful and competitive. So to be able to just relax and have fun and see the game through the eyes of the kids made it a great experience.

“I believe it’s important for us, as athletes, to try and set a good example for the kids in our community. It’s great to go out and connect with young kids and show them that if they really want to, they can be college athletes. It was always my dream to play sports in college, and I was always surrounded by people who showed me it was possible.”