Girls take center stage at camp

Published 12:03 pm Friday, July 19, 2019

By kevin eckleberry

Daily News

It’s a girls’ only club.

Four summers ago, the first LaGrange Girls Soccer Camp was held at the Troup County soccer complex.

The camp, which as the name indicates is strictly for girls, is still going strong.

This year’s five-day camp wraps up on Friday, with more than 50 girls from the ages of four to 14 getting one last chance to learn some skills from coaches and players from LaGrange High.

Among the instructors is Caroline Thompson, who’ll be a senior on the 2020 LaGrange girls’ soccer team.

“Boys can be kind of intimidating, especially at this age,” said Thompson, who has been working with some of the younger campers. “This kind of makes them open up a little more. They can make new friends that they go to school with.”

Thompson, a three-year starter at LaGrange who was the Region 5-AAAA player of the year last season, is glad to be able to introduce the sport she loves to a new generation of girls.

“Them coming over and playing in the summer makes them feel like I like soccer, and I want to play in the fall, and try it out at least,” Thompson said.

Thompson added that the camp is “really fun. I think the girls love it just as much as we do. And they love the water games. I think that’s their favorite.”

There are 56 girls participating in this year’s camp, and they’ll push through to the finish line today.

To put a bow on the week’s activities, a fire truck will come out to the soccer complex on Friday and douse the campers with streams of water.

“We go five days, 9 to 12,” said Andy Fritchley, who coaches the LaGrange High girls’ team along with Colin Ross. “That last day, we’re dragging just a little bit.”

Fritchley has been heavily involved with the camp since its inception, and he believes it’s a valuable learning experience for the girls.

“It helps the girls not feel intimidated, not playing co-ed,” Fritchley said. “This is their thing. It’s all about them.”

While Fritchley and Ross are running the camp, most of the instructors are members of the LaGrange girls’ team.

Since the start, a heavy emphasis has been placed on getting LaGrange’s players to play a key role in the camp.

“We want everyone here to see the game, and enjoy it, and appreciate the sport,” Fritchley said. “And we want our players to take leadership roles, and be mentors, and really get involved. And there’s a whole lot of interaction that goes non-stop. Our players are the ones that make this camp so special. They’re making friends, they’re having fun with them, and they’re showing them their silly side.”

Part of showing that silly side came on Wednesday, which was dress-up day for the campers, as well as the instructors.

Some of the girls were wearing tutus, others were wearing imaginative head-wear, and mismatched socks were the norm.

While having fun is a key focus of the camp, there is plenty of instruction going on as well.

Fritchley’s hope is to give some of the younger girls an introduction to the fundamentals of the sport.

“We know if we can get 5-year-olds to dribble the ball the right way, and there’s a way to dribble the ball correctly, that when they get to be 11 and 12 they’re just so much further along,” Fritchley said. “That’s why baseball players around here are so successful. They’ve been taught the right way.”

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