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KINGSBURG - The Kingsburg girls soccer team hosted 66 kids at its third annual youth camp at Kingsburg High School on Aug. 6-8.

The 66 kids - age range from 4-13 years old - was an increase from last year’s total of 40, which Vikings head coach Scott Hodges considered “fantastic.”

“For our high school girls program, it’s one of the highlights of our year,” Hodges said. “I think there’s a lot of excitement in our town about girls soccer probably from the success that our girls program has had, but also the U.S Women’s National Team this summer doing so well….So this has been a blast to give these kids an opportunity to come out here for three days and two hours each day and interact with our high school players.”

Members of team coached the kids, who were divided into age groups, in multiple drills on the soccer practice field near the softball stadium during the three-day event. Many of the groups were co-ed, which has been a usual setting since the camp was founded.

Hodges, who also is entering his first year as the KHS athletic director, said he loves that young boys and girls have the opportunity to play and learn the game together.

“I think it’s fantastic to be on the same field and interact with each other,” Hodges said. “It’s been a very good learning experience for all of them.”

One of the players that was coaching one of the co-ed groups was senior Marissa Montelongo, who enjoyed mentoring and spending time with the kids.

“They bring so much energy, so it brings up my energy,” Montelongo said. “It’s fun teaching them some things that coach has been teaching me throughout growing up. I can’t to see what they’re going to do when they get older.”

Vikings junior Blaire Willson said she enjoys working with kids and the three-day event was a “learning experience.”

“Teaching them is like a learning experience because they go through drills so fast and you really don’t expect that,” Willson said. “It’s definitely a learning experience, but it’s also fun. I love it.”

Majority of camp participants compete for teams in the Kingsburg Youth Soccer League, which has had a partnership with the high school girls program, according to Hodges. He added that the KYSL does an “exceptional” job of supporting the girls soccer team and they appreciate their support.

With the KYSL season getting underway soon, Hodges said the camp is a great way to “kickoff” it’s upcoming year.

“I think it’s a beautiful kickoff to get the kids, a lot of the little ones, the four and five year olds to get the feeling of showing up to a practice and going through the drills,” Hodges said. “Once their season starts, they won’t have that hesitancy of being unsure of what’s going to happen. They’re going to be ready to go once the season starts.”

Each participant received a ball and a green dri-fit t-shirt, but they were also treated to popsicles during the final day of the camp.

“The popsicle brick was probably the highlight of the two hours,” Hodges said.

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Jeremiah Martinez can be reached at 559-583-2413 or jmartinez@hanfordsentinel.com

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