The high school aged Boys ECNL teams participated in the program’s first annual Principia Preseason Camp last weekend at Principia College in Elsah, IL. This marked the first time the program went offsite to prepare for the upcoming season. “We wanted to use this opportunity to bring the players closer together, an opportunity to bond with one another away from everything. It was a fantastic experience that accomplished exactly what we had in mind.” commented Kyle Riebeling, SLSG’s Boys ECNL Director. Players spent time with their teammates as well as with players from the other teams. The camp promoted unity and allowed for the inclusion of new players from outside of the program. “It was a great opportunity for our teams to unite, especially for players who are new to the program. Some of the most enjoyable moments of the weekend were simply just walking around campus from one activity to the next and joking around together. We anticipate this becoming a tradition that all of our players look forward to each year.” reflected Jess Semnacher, U17 coach and Principia College Men’s Head Coach. Dre Davis, U16 newcomer, also expressed the benefit of being part of the camp as a new player in the club and program, “I had fun! It was great because it really made me feel part of the club and team.”
While at the camp, the players were put into different teams, which included members from each of the high school aged teams. These teams competed for points in multiple activities over the course of the weekend. Teams competed for results in fitness tests, a dodgeball tournament, a futsal tournament, a Premier League fantasy activity, and various games. “The games we played were a fun way to bond with other players from the program. It was fun competing with them.” said U17 player, Ben Loftus. All of the activities were designed to promote competitiveness along with unity and fun, which are all part of the desired culture for the program.
Players worked in their assigned teams to give a presentation on a specified game situation in front of the staff and the other players. Using their knowledge of game principles, systems of play, and tactics, each group formulated a strategy for success against an opponent’s system. “The tactical presentations were very insightful. Considering the players’ ages and available technology, they need to be able to break down the game and explain what they see instead of just watching or participating.” noted U16 coach, Ricky Andrews. After the finished their presentation, players were asked questions by the coaches and other players regarding their strategy.
While the camp’s main intention was about creating unity and bringing the players together, it also involved training in order to prepare for the upcoming season. Each team completed a fitness test in the morning and a training session in the afternoon on Saturday and Sunday. Because the weather provided snow and sleet, the fitness tests and training sessions were conducted inside Principia’s Crafton Athletic Center, a large indoor sports center on campus. The goalkeepers even had their own unique, turfed training area inside the college’s Hay Field House to train.
“The campus and the facilities at Principia are amazing. We’re spoiled to have a campus like this close to us, especially one that has staff willing to host these types of events for our club. The staff were very accommodating and willing to do whatever was necessary to make our stay pleasant and beneficial. It is clear that they take great pride in their campus.” praised Riebeling. The players stayed in one of the campus’ dorms while at the camp. All of the players were able to stay under the same roof and spend the entire weekend around one another, giving them ample opportunity to practice the program’s culture.
Many of the players spoke about their enjoyment of the experience and were thankful for the opportunity. One of which was Carlos Pulido, U15 goalkeeper, “This was the best camp ever, everyone was included. There were lots of moments that made me laugh. I had a good time with the team.” The coaching staff was also pleased with the outcome the camp produced. “Each of us expressed how enjoyable this experience was for us and how beneficial it was for our players. This is definitely something we would like to do at the beginning of every season. Now we shift our focus to the preseason training schedule to get ready for the start of the season.” said Riebeling. The SLSG Boys ECNL teams kick off their season March 6th and 7th at home against Eclipse Select at SLSG Collinsville Complex.