Friday, January 27, 2023


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Sports Article
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GO Soccer Camp Promotes Competition, Unity for Girls
Written by Bradley Schlegel Correspondent

Participants at the GO Soccer Camp at Molasses Creek Park in Milford Township, left to right, Ava Winn, Lauren Fruck, Cailyn Hooper, Kira Winn and Parker Kennedy work on a three-on-three drill.

                At the GO (Girls Only) Soccer Camp, which debuted July 27 at Molasses Creek Park in Milford Township, director Nikki Stanziola instructs young females on the finer points of the game in a fun environment.

                She called the camp, with an all-female staff of former college soccer players, an ideal environment for girls to feel comfortable and confident enough to "take a risk and a try something new."

                Last week, 14 girls between the ages of five and 13 participated in the camp. Stanziola welcomes players of varying skill levels.

                "The idea is getting the girls to feel comfortable and confident enough to try something new," said Stanziola, who played the sport at Central Bucks East High School and the University of Delaware.

                The activities feature a combination of drills, such as dribbling and shooting, as well as team building activities, like team skits, a water balloon toss and a hula-hoop contest.

                The schedule includes techniques such as first touch and receiving, 1-on-1 defending and attacking, dribbling, passing weight and accuracy, heading, crossing the ball and finishing.

                Campers also learn the tactics, conditioning and psychology of soccer, which includes training discipline, self-confidence, leadership, dealing with pressure and mental toughness.

                According to Stanziola, building unity among female athletes is especially important. She said that once the girls get to know each other, they are more likely to play hard for each other. 

                "A lot of girls are afraid to compete," she said. "I want to instill in them the thought that the harder they work, the better they can make their teammates perform. Female athletes need to see themselves helping each other."

                On the first day of camp, participants learned about dribbling, according to Ava Winn. The 10-year-old from Chalfont, and Stanziola's niece, said they also were instructed to keep the ball close to their feet.

                Winn, who plays for the Pennsylvania Rush Soccer Club, located in central Bucks County, preferred the shooting drills.  "I try to kick the ball as hard as I can," said Winn, who has attended her aunt's camps for five years and considers soccer her favorite sport.

                Kira Winn, Ava's 8-year-old sister, considers herself a very good dribbler.  "I'm into it," Kira Winn said. "I like having fun, and that I don't have to worry about winning."

                The camp includes a competitive aspect. According to Stanziola, the younger players focus on defense skills and participate in a 2 vs. 2 tournament throughout the week, which culminates on the final day of camp.

                She said the older girls face off in a 3 vs. 3 tournament, known as the World Cup. The teams, each identified by the name of a competing country, participate in a pool-play format. According to Stanziola, the teams with the highest point totals move on the semifinals, and then the finals on the fifth day of camp.

                A special education teacher in the Pennridge School District, Stanziola wanted to expand her program. She has been running similar camps in Buckingham since 2000.

                "It's a passion of mine," she said. "I'm surprised no one else has any camps like this. There are not nearly enough female soccer coaches."

                Stanziola, who attended several camps during her competitive soccer career, incorporated aspects of each into her own program.

                Her experience at a UNC Girls Soccer Camp in the 1990s made an indelible impact. Stanziola competed against, and learned from, several elite female players, including Mia Hamm, Carla Overbeck and Kristine Lilly, three members of the U.S. Women's national team.






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