Soccer is alive and well in Culpeper.
Nearly 400 children turned out for the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office soccer camp, featuring instruction from the Culpeper Soccer Club.
The annual summer youth camps were started by Sheriff Scott Jenkins in 2012 and have grown from one football camp to now four camps including baseball/softball, soccer, football and cheerleading.
“The philosophy surrounding it is to build and foster better relationships with our students and the youth of our community,” CCSO Detective Marshall Keene said. “To give our students a chance to see us in a more relaxed role. Out here we get to know them a little more on a personal level and make them feel comfortable when they see us.”
The free camp featured instruction from the Culpeper Soccer Club coaches and junior players, with more than 30 people volunteering from the CSC.
The nearly 400 students is a new record for the camp.
“Each year it continues to grow,” Keene said. “The SRO’s plan this and put it together, but we have tremendous support from the Culpeper Soccer Association and Culpeper Little League.”
Keene said the help from the CSC is important as the technical skills taught are important for the young players.
“Soccer is one of those (sports) that’s unique that not everyone has a skill set to where you can coach, these guys are providing some unique instruction for our kids,” Keene said.
Cindy Grotz, Office Manager/Registrar for Culpeper Soccer Club, said partnering with the CCSO is important to the soccer club.
“We do it as a community service,” Grotz said. “We want to make sure soccer is being taught correctly, that the kids are safe and learning good skills. We’re the only one that come out here and give all the instruction, and we do it because we all love the sport and we want to make sure the community is introduced to it.”
Dan Bales, CSC Technical Director, said the kids were excited to learn from the Culpeper Soccer Club coaches.
“We’re really just working on fundamentals,” Bales said. “That’s our biggest focus. Primarily we’re out here to build a sense of community between the soccer community and law enforcement. The biggest focus is always just going to be fun, getting kids out and getting them active.”
He said that the fact nearly 400 kids turned out for the camp shows how soccer has been received in Culpeper.
“It’s growing every year, we work hard in all of our programs, but doing events like this - part of our mission is to grow the sport in our community and that’s exactly what’s happening,” Bales said. “With the Sheriff’s Office, it’s just been fantastic collaborative relationship. They share that same vision.”
Lincoln Stuart, rising fifth grader at A.G. Richardson Elementary School, raced up the field during a game on Thursday. A baseball player by trade, Stuart said he wanted to do the soccer camp for the second year in a row to help him play a second sport.
“I like meeting new people and doing fun activities,” Stuart said.
Chris Donner, a fifth grade teacher at Yowell Elementary School, called out kids names on the second day of the camp, encouraging them and cheering them on as they made strong defensive plays.
“It’s a challenge because there’s a lot of different skill levels,” Donner said. “I think that’s part of the fun, we have kids that have played a lot and some that have maybe never played before. We’re getting them all to play together, that’s fun to see.”