It all looks familiar to Jeff Geeter.
The former LaGrange College head soccer guru has been putting on a youth camp for decades – 27 years to be exact – and this summer is no different.
Day No. 1 of the Geeter Panther Soccer Camp began on Monday morning with a blue sky, a hot sun and very nearly 100 players. The green soccer pitch at La-Grange College was ready, as were the kids and the camp director.
Geeter was in control, and he liked what he saw for the next three hours in between agility drills, snappy defense and shear determination. And don’t forget about sliding goals in front of the net.
“It is so gratifying to see how the game (of soccer) has grown in this town,” Geeter said of LaGrange. “The players are spreading the field and making good decisions. We have some pretty talented kids. They’re learning and having a good time.”
The players were getting all heated up, and that included campers as young as five and as old as 14.
“The ball is a magnet, and everyone wants to go to the ball. I see good passing. We’re developing enthusiasm. Some of these kids have parents who used to come to this camp,” said Geeter. “These kids are like sponges, and soccer is filling a niche. We’re focusing on dribbling and ball control.”
Amelia Gale, a nine year old, is one of the returning soccer campers. There are many. At the age of three, Gale kicked her first soccer ball. It has been all downhill ever since for Gale, the LaGrange girl.
“This is the best soccer camp. They give us rest and breaks. We get to talk to people, and the coaches show you what to do. We scrimmage and play sharks and minnows,” said Gale.
There are a lot of drills in the camp, but even more games. That is where the players improve, from netto- net and sideline-to-sideline. Addison Vestal can’t get enough of the instruction and the soccer knowledge.
Vestal is nine years old, and she lives to play this game.
“I came to this camp last year, and I wanted to come back. The coaches help you, and they challenge you. I like the coaches. They don’t take any goofing around,” said Vestal.
She is always ready for more.
“Soccer is tough, but it’s fun,” said Vestal.
The Geeter Panther Soccer Camp is one of a kind.