Puyallup: Sports

Rogers High soccer takes break, hosts skills camp for youth players

Rogers High boys soccer has found a groove on the pitch early this season as the Rams find themselves undefeated with a 6-0-1 record coming out of spring break.

Even though Rogers has been on cruise control, players and coaches found time over the break to open up a camp last week at the high school for some local kids.

Why not stop for fun and games?

"We’re just trying to have as much fun as we can out here," captain Colin Mayes said. "It’s getting them to start at a young age and enjoy soccer."

For the last seven years, Rogers soccer has opened up a training and skills camp to the players from kindergarten to sixth grade during spring break. The goal Rams coach J.R. Farias had when he started the camp was to create a passion for soccer for all involved — children and coaches alike.

"We’ve always had games during spring break," Farias said. "It’s one of those things where our kids struggled (during break) because it’s kind of a grind (here) when everyone else is off. We started doing this with the main goal to come out and have some fun."

Separated by age groups, campers go through different training and skills sets, guided by Rogers soccer players.

As children practiced their headers, dribbled through cones or simply learned how to run on the pitch, it was always followed by high-fives and cheers for getting through the drills. It was about keeping it fun.

"It’s kind of good to come out of the competitive side and hang around with the kids," forward Jose Valentine said. "I remembered having a good time at camps, and it’s good to help recreate my experiences for them."

It was hard to tell who was having more fun at times — Rams players or the campers. With the children getting moved from one drill to another, it was hard not to notice several groups of Rams off to the side playing their own games.

It’s a great to be able to unwind at times.

"We want these guys to see the kids have fun, and hopefully they come back and treat this game the same way," Farias said.

"It gets us excited to go back out and play when we see these kids out here having fun," Cooper Gray said.

Being able to find the joy in the game won’t be hard if Rogers continues to play like it has. A day after hosting the camp, the Rams traveled to Spanaway Lake and picked up a shutout over their league foe.

Valentine nailed the lone goal in the 23rd minute while Parker Elliot had the clean sheet in goal in the 1-0 victory.

"I feel my team puts me in good situations," Valentine said. "It’s hard to get passes the way you want them all the time — even in the pros. But I get the ball where I like it a lot of the time."

If Rogers keeps up its groove, Farias won’t have to worry about his players finding the game fun. The winning will create that excitement all on its own.