ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – There are plenty sources for excitement about soccer in Albuquerque and around the world. The New Mexico Lobos are coming off an exhilarating 2013 season that saw UNM reach the NCAA College Cup in Philadelphia. The ultra-exciting World Cup in Brazil this summer where Germany reigned supreme. Then there is the upcoming 2014 Lobo Soccer season, which begins in less than a month. These multitudes of excitement were apparent on the faces of the hundreds of youngsters participating in this year’s Lobo Soccer camps.
“It’s pretty sweet. I feel fortunate to be able to work with our community,” observed junior midfielder Ben McKendry. “For us, it’s an opportunity to work with young people who look up to us and aspire to be soccer players in the future. It’s nice to see young fans you recognize from home matches here at camp. I know they enjoy watching us play, and we enjoy being able to see them here at camp.”
The format of camp includes station work for any and all skills; dribbling, shooting, goalkeeping and playing in groups in smaller games. The layout of camp gives attendees a taste of the soccer facilities at UNM as they play at the Lobos’ practice fields and the indoor practice facility.
There’s also the focus on things outside of the usual soccer work. Camp focuses on teamwork, good communication and having fun. That fun is something several Lobo players know well as former campers.
“I had a lot of fun at these camps back when I was younger,” said senior defender Riley McGovern. “I really looked up to all the Lobo players then, and all I wanted to do was be like them and come here and play at the University of New Mexico.”
The Lobo Soccer Academy is staffed by current Lobo players and staff, which creates a pretty unique experience for a youngster to be coached by a Mathew Gibbons or a Patrick Poblete. It’s also a great first experience for incoming freshman and transfers to see what the program is about. Community service is more than just a component of head coach Jeremy Fishbein’s program; it’s a corner stone.
But for all the intricacies, detailed plans and focus on the game, soccer camp can be broken down to one simple goal. As McKendry so eloquently put it:
“It’s just great to be out here on a nice, sunny day. Here I am watching some soccer, seeing some goals and having an awesome time. That is what it’s all about really.”