While Indy Eleven’s W-League season has come to a close, some players we’re able to lace up their cleats at Grand Park for the following week. Over the course of four days, some Indy Eleven players hosted a summer camp where they taught girls ages six to fourteen the fundamentals of soccer.
Indy midfielder Grace Bahr coaches up to three to four camps every summer, which include youth camps, private lessons, and camps in Cleveland and Cincinnati. To Grace, coaching the games is a way of giving back to the community and the girls.
“I remember when I was their age, and I would go to camps, and I had coaches that I just loved and admired,” Bahr said. “I want to be able to give all of these players in these camps an awesome week. I’m sure their parents love having them away from the house, but an awesome week of learning soccer and meeting new friends, having fun, and then making sure that they know they have older women in the community as young soccer players that they can look up to.”
Speaking with the girls and building relationships with them is, according to Bahr, her favorite part of the camps.
“That’s the thing about soccer. It’s not just teaching them dribbling and passing and how to shoot, which is all important, but it’s getting to know them,” Bahr said. “We talked about where we lived prior to Indiana. I think having that relationship and being able to have those conversations with them makes them and myself happy.”
A typical day at camp begins with a large game centered around the day’s theme that involved all of the campers. Following the game, the players included teaching segments before moving on to learning, competitive games.
Midfielder Rachel Dewey has participated in the Westfield-based Indiana Fire Juniors program before joining the W-League team. She said returning to her roots and now playing the role of a coach is great since she can have an impact on the girls’ play and enjoyment of the game.
“I would always go to Notre Dame soccer camp and all the college girls would work that and getting to work with those girls definitely made me want to become a college soccer player,” Dewey said. “I think similarly to that, the kids seeing us getting to play for Indy Eleven, I think that will probably help shape their idea of what they want to do when they’re older and maybe become an Indy Eleven soccer player as well.”
Defender Robyn McCarthy said after spending four days with the girls, she hoped they had a better understanding of how girls’ and women’s soccer will develop over the next couple of years.
“I hope that seeing us, especially in Indiana because there is such a great community here for soccer, we can be their mentors and there is a pathway for soccer,” McCarthy said. “I hope if they have a love for the game that they continue on developing their skills and know there is potential for them to do what they love.”