Giovanna Z. Rinaldo
Sixteen girls from ages 13 to 19 gathered early Saturday morning at the Ortmayer Stadium to participate in the La Verne Futbol Academy’s winter soccer camp, led by University of La Verne women’s soccer coach Lauryn Pehanich.
The camp serves to evaluate and identify potential recruits, as well as to provide a place to practice and improve technical ability and comfort level with the ball.
“We really just kind of want to see where they are at athletically as well as skill-wise,” Pehanich said.
“A couple of things that we will do is look at a lot of their ball skills and a lot of their technical work, and then we will focus on a couple of individual things. For instance, today we are going to be looking at possession as well as finishing.”
The training kicked off at 9 a.m. and lasted three hours, with several individual and collective exercises taking place.
The registration fee to participate was $40 until Feb. 18 and $50 after that.
After running and juggling exercises to warm up, the girls participated in drills that tested their ball control and agility in changing direction.
The two goalkeepers trained separately, being tested in the air as well as in diving for the ball and practiced reflexes, reaction and anticipation.
“I was invited and my cousin gave me a recommendation because she played soccer here for a year and she liked it,” said 16-year old goalkeeper Sabrina Monfils, a student at Centennial High School in Corona.
“My strength would be breakaways because I’m a goalie, and my weakness would be tipping the ball.”
Monfils, a future kinesiology student, said ULV is one of her college options.
The girls also practiced passing in groups of five, as well as long balls with a partner.
“I love playing soccer and the campus is close by home so I think it would be a good experience to get a student-athlete experience in college,” 17-year-old Taylor Powers said.
Powers has played for Etiwanda High School and Legends Football Club and is open to perform in whatever position she is needed.
“I play left or right, defense or forward, it’s kind of all over the place,” she said.
After practicing passing, crossing and finishing, the group was divided into two and resumed training with a 20-minute game.
“A lot of these kids we have already seen either play at the high school level or at their club level, and this just gives us an opportunity to bring them on to campus and now be able to physically work with them,” Pehanich said.
“And be able to see if they like the style of coaching that I have.”
After stretching, the girls and their parents followed Pehanich to a college recruiting seminar, where the coach explained the different divisions of NCAA and NAIA soccer, and addressed any questions or concerns that the players or their families had.
“I think there is the element of fear coming into a college campus and so I try to start off with the conversation of ‘this is all things that you’ve done up to this point in your career,’” Pehanich said.
“They’ve all been playing soccer for usually a pretty good amount of time, so there is a fear element and I usually ask them to come back consistently to camps because their first time at a camp there is a lot of nerves being in a college campus, to perform in front of a college coach,” she added.
Pehanich also explained that when deciding which divison of collegiate soccer to play, the student-athlete has to consider time management and a balance with other extracurricular activities such as work, internships and involvement on campus.
She said there are no right or wrong choices, but finding the best fit for you.
For some girls, however, it is never too early to start considering college options and attending recruitment camps.
“I wanted to have an experience with older kids to be better,” said 14-year old goalkeeper Isabel Brambila, a student at Grace Yokley Middle School who has played since she was 8.
“I want to improve on not to be afraid of the ball more.”
Brambila said she wants to attend UCLA and play collegiate soccer while studying to become a nurse.
Women’s soccer camps are held at the University two to three times per year, being one during Spring-Winter and one during the Summer.
“I’m hoping to just help them move on to wherever it is that they want to go on to,” Pehanich said.
“A lot of them don’t understand that there’s a spot for them at some college soccer team if that is something that they want to do, so I’m really hoping to help them find their fit into the college soccer,” she said.
Giovanna Z. Rinaldo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.