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Plenty to break down at St. Francis Soccer Camp

Plenty to break down at St. Francis Soccer Camp
St. Francis soccer coach Glen Appels watches over the St. Francis Soccer Camp at Friedman Field. About 45 participants attended the event. (Dan Watson)

LA CAÑADA — Glen Appels is used to the chilly conditions during the winter at Friedman Field while coaching the St. Francis High soccer team.

It’s been anything but chilly lately with temperatures soaring to more than 100 degrees.

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Appels has been monitoring the heat wave while conducting the St. Francis Soccer Camp, which attracted about 45 participants to the venue looking to hone their skills by taking part in a wide range of drills from shooting to passing to dribbling.

It was also important for the campers to remain hydrated by taking water breaks following the completion of a drill. They also retreated to air-conditioned classrooms on campus to break down video of the 2018 World Cup that recently concluded in Russia.

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“It’s going to be hot throughout the whole week, so we’ll try to get them off the field a little earlier than normal,” said Appels, a former All-Area Boys’ Soccer Coach of the Year who has led St. Francis to three CIF Southern Section championships and one Southern California Regional title since taking over the program in 1989. “It’s far different from the winter right now, but the idea is the same in looking to see everybody improve.

“They get a whole week to work on different things. You see them going through all of the drills and it’s a self reflection because they want to get better. They get a better idea of what they need to work on.”

The camp, which was first held in 1991, kicked off this summer’s rendition Monday and will finish Friday. The event, which includes scrimmages, attracted boys and girls ages 6-18 who live locally and in neighboring towns. Several of Appels' assistants and former players helped him coordinate the camp.

“We have one person who was working on juggling and he was using just one of his legs. We got him to use both of his legs and he was so much better about 10 minutes later,” Appels said. “We have some players out here who will be trying out for their school’s varsity and junior varsity teams and it’s an opportunity to work on a variety of drills. We have some other people here who are just getting into soccer and looking to have some fun.”

Then there’s the time spent off the field and in the classroom. With more than 40 World Cup matches having just taken place, there’s plenty of video for Appels to share with the participants.

Appels, an English teacher at St. Francis, said he planned to show a lot of the third-place match between England and Belgium. Belgium recorded a 2-0 win.

“There wasn’t too much pressure for either of those teams in the third-place game, so you’ll see a lot more things to look at,” Appels said. “You can break down how the goals were scored or how the goalies made saves.”

Several of the participants didn’t seem to mind the heat, including Aidan Lee of Pasadena who served as goalkeeper for St. Francis’ junior varsity team last season.

“It’s great to be out here learning,” Lee, 15, said. “I used to play soccer a lot more than I do now when I was in AYSO, but now I’m just playing at St. Francis.

“It’s a good way to get ready for the upcoming season and learn about technique. I want to get better at being a goalkeeper because that will help the team out a lot.”

Making her first appearance at the event, Symons-Galassi, 12, worked up a sweat while completing a passing exercise.

“It’s been a good experience and there’s a wide diversity of people here,” Symons-Galassi said. “I’ve been learning about how to be able to control the ball and I’m looking to learn how to play different positions.”

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