More than just a camp

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — With the air conditioning unit humming inside a classroom adjacent to St. Francis High's Friedman Field, class was officially in session.

Behind a brown wooden lectern stood veteran St. Francis High soccer Coach Glen Appels, who provided historical soccer feats during a slide presentation. Appels, an English teacher at the school, put his teaching and communicative skills to task. He used the visual aid to help teach nearly 30 participants on Monday morning about the proper mechanics of soccer during the first day of the 20th installment of the St. Francis Summer Soccer Camp.

The campers took notes about tactical topics ranging from the principles of offense and defense to mobility and strength. Out on the south end of Friedman Field, about 20 other participants formed in groups to go over dribbling and passing and apply them to potential match situations.

"We want to help them understand and learn the tactical things that go along with the sport," said Appels, who guided St. Francis to CIF Southern Section crowns in 1996, 2001 and 2003 and a CIF Southern California Division II Regional Championship in 2009. "We want them to understand it's not just about playing.

"We look at it as a place for them to learn soccer and instill their love for the game. The younger kids work on the skills and enjoy themselves. For the older guys, it's about them continuing to work on the skills."

Sixty-five campers, ranging from 10-18, began in earnest their quest to hone their skills throughout the week-long event. The camp, which will conclude Friday, was spearheaded by Appels with additional guidance from his assistants and several former players.

About five members on the current St. Francis squad made their way to attend the camp, including senior forward Christian Swart. Swart, who contributed six goals and two assists for 14 points last season for the Golden Knights en route to securing All-Area second-team honors, said he attended the event to brush up on various skills.

"I want to get into better shape being a member of the team," said Swart, who helped the Golden Knights advance to the second round of the Division I playoffs last season. "Being in the classroom, Coach Appels showed us a lot of the different components of the game and it's helping refresh my memory.

"I've learned more about the offensive aspects, like attacking the ball and finishing on scoring chances."

PJ Smith, 11, began playing soccer about six years ago.

Smith, a La Cañada Flintridge resident, said their were several bonuses to attending the camp.

"You can go out there and enjoy soccer," said Smith, an attacking midfielder on the Crescenta Valley Soccer Club boys' under-13 squad. "It's addicting to play and be able to run around out on the field and meet new friends.

"I'm just trying to improve my strength and passing and getting better overall."

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World