LA CAÑADA — With a purpose, a small contingent made its way up the hill to Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy.
On the school’s field, which overlooks a portion of scenic La Cañada Flintridge, the participants came prepared to go through a series of drills at the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy Soccer Camp.
Leading the way was instructor Savannah Viola, who earned plenty of championship pedigree as a player and coach at Flintridge Sacred Heart.
Viola covered various exercises at the event, which began Monday and will finish Friday, to help players improve their skills and get a jump on the competition.
“It’s just all about getting them in tune with soccer so that they are energized about playing the game,” said Viola, who served as a member of the Tologs’ coaching staff last season which culminated in Flintridge Sacred Heart advancing to the CIF Southern Section Division III championship match before winning the CIF Southern California Regional Division III title. “They are so young and impressionable and you want to give them a good feeling about playing a great game like soccer.
“You think about scoring goals, but there are a lot of important things that can leads to goals. Things like making that first touch, dribbling and footwork to get yourself in the right position. We go over those things, so they have a better understanding when they play.”
Viola, who helped Flintridge Sacred Heart win a regional crown in 2010 and a CIF title in 2011, worked closely with the girls, age 10-12, on a dribbling drill and instructed them how to stay in proper position when possessing the ball.
“There are so many talented female soccer players all around the world,” said Viola, a former All-Area honoree who graduated from Flintridge Sacred Heart in 2013 and played at the University of New Mexico. “So many of them went to camps to get a head start. I went to camps at USC and Loyola Marymount University and it was a big help.
“It’s about doing drills over and over again. They see what they are capable of doing.”
The camp also focused on shooting, passing, heading the ball and trapping skills.
Caroline Vega, 11, worked on a variety of exercises.
“It’s definitely cool when you can learn from [Viola],” said Vega, a San Marino resident. “You get a chance each day to learn all of the basics, like learning about footwork and trying to get position against an opponent.
“I can use the camp as a place where I can improve on my shooting skills.”
Said, Daniela Wood, 11, of Palm Desert: “Soccer is such a popular sport and I just love playing it whenever I can. You feel good about yourself when you know how to do all of the different drills.”
Flintridge Sacred Heart athletic director Stephanie Contreras said it marked the first time in more than five years that the school hosted a soccer camp.
Contreras said she expects the event to grow.
“We haven’t had a soccer camp here in quite some time, but we wanted to get one going again,” Contreras said. “It’s just about getting the word out and we’ll see what we can do looking ahead.”