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Thorns host first girls soccer camp

The Portland Thorns, a first-year NWSL team, put on a week-long soccer camp for girls at Pacific University


This week it’s the girls’ turn.

Last week, more than 100 teenage boys converged on Pacific University and the fields of Lincoln Park for a Portland Timbers residential soccer camp. Starting on Sunday, dozens of female soccer players arrived in Forest Grove for a camp of their own — the Portland Thorns Residential Girls Soccer Camp.

“Everything’s going really well,” camp director Darren Lilla said. “For the first camp for the Thorns, for it to sell out, that’s great.”

The professional Thorns belong to the first-year National Women’s Soccer League and fall under the umbrella of the Timbers organization, which also includes a U23 men’s team, an academy for teenage boys, and regional training centers for youths located throughout the state. So while this week’s camp is the first ever residential camp for girls, the Timbers organization has already staged three consecutive boys residential camps.

“Having had the boys camp here before definitely helps, but the coaching staff is really experienced,” Lilla said. “I’ve done live-ins elsewhere, and so it’s really similar. A lot of us bring that experience as well.”

The camp, which continues through Thursday, sold out at 120 players, though Lilla noted that a few players who were registered did not show. But the rest of the 100-plus participants have been busy with a week of drills, games and off-field sessions with a group of Olympic Development Program coaches.

The campers range in age from 13 to 18. Most are high schoolers, Lilla said, especially freshmen and sophomores. Many play just high school soccer, though Lilla estimated that a majority are serious club players. For the most part, the girls are Oregon and Washington residents, though, Lilla noted, at least one Washingtonian had recently moved there from Miami.

“The main thing is that they’re all excited to play and improve,” he said.

By Monday afternoon — not even through the second full day of camp — Ella Templin, 14, had already worked on skills such as diving headers, possession and defense.

“Definitely defending, working on one-(versus)-ones and stuff, because I’m a defender, so I feel like more defending helps me,” said Templin, a Welches resident and a rising sophomore at Sandy High School, about what she had found helpful so far.

Among the off-field session topics, on Monday evening, the campers learned about the mental side of the game from a local sports psychologist.

And Tuesday was particularly special, as the campers got to spend some time with Thorns coach Cindy Parlow Cone and player Courtney Wetzel, who both made appearances at the camp for question-and-answer sessions. Parlow Cone is a former forward on the U.S. women’s national team who was part of championship-winning teams for the 1999 Women’s World Cup and the 1996 and 2004 Olympic Games.

Wetzel played in college at Oregon State, where she helped the Beavers advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament as a junior and to the second round as a senior before graduating in 2011. She has appeared in 13 of Portland’s 16 matches so far this season.

“For (the campers) to have that opportunity to make that personal connection with them, I know a lot of kids really look forward to that,” Lilla said.

The camp also includes a couple of presentations about college, including one from a college coach.

“I think most girls ... here have that aspiration,” Lilla said about playing in college.

On the field, morning sessions are mainly technical in nature — Monday’s, for example, involved work on bending balls and headers — while afternoon practices provide chances to apply those newly honed skills and games fill up the evenings. Tuesday included speed and agility testing.

Jasmine Chapman, 14, traveled from Bend to attend the Thorns camp. Like Templin, the Bend High freshman-to-be plays defense, and she has been getting the most out of her camp experience.

“It’s really good,” Chapman said. “I like how much training there is per day and everything, and how we’re not just not doing anything. We’re actually learning things.”




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  • 23 Aug 2014

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  • 24 Aug 2014

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