Whether it's soccer camps, day camp or sleep away camp, the experience can be a bit scary and nerve-racking but those are very natural feelings. I can remember going to my first sleep away soccer camp--saying goodbye to my parents was really hard. To make it easier, I had a specific time that I would call my parents every night so I knew I would talk to them every day. I also made sure that I was surrounded by people because being around others always helped those lonely, "I miss home" feelings. Usually, after the first few days, the homesickness subsides and you find yourself immersed in your practices and enjoying your new friends.
Getting ready for camp was always fun for me too. I had to make sure I had all my gear: In addition to shin guards, cleats and several pairs of soccer socks, I brought shampoo, conditioner, some books, and when I was at camp, a walkman--yesteryear's iPod. One thing that you shouldn't forget is sunscreen, especially if you will be spending a lot of time outdoors. Don't worry about thinking of every bare necessity though, your camp will most likely provide a list of items you'll need to bring with you.
Once you arrive at camp, get settled in and meet your roommate. After all the campers check-in, the camp counselors usually hold an opening ceremony that covers what will take place throughout the week. They will go over everyday activities, emergency situations and all the fun you will have.
Sometimes it's hard juggling the fun and what you are really at camp for: becoming a better soccer player. What I've learned is that when you work hard during practice time, you'll smile wider during fun time. After a day of good practice and hard work, the subsequent swimming, eating and socializing will be extra special. So when you think about camp and wonder if you are going to have a good time, remember that the first day is the toughest but if you work hard, the fun will follow.
Overall, camp is a learning experience that's an absolute blast! Each year, when I think about putting my camps together I make sure I'm well prepared with great learning experiences, fun, competitive activities, rest, and an opportunity to let individuals show their personalities on and off the field. I usually wrap up my camps with games and a closing ceremony that celebrates all the hard work campers put in during the week. Closing ceremonies can be quite enjoyable, especially if they feature awards presentations and cold popsicles!
Camps give kids the opportunity to learn while enjoying having fun. They can hone their skills at camp and grow not only as an athlete, but as a person as well. The camp experience introduces kids to valuable life skills such as teamwork, discipline and camaraderie. All these great things, tied in with a lot of fun, will build lasting memories and help to make this year's rookie campers next year's returning campers.
I hope everyone has a great summer! Happy Camping!
A couple of weekends ago I went to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to visit one of my best friends and watch the University of Michigan softball team take on Michigan State and Northwestern. I saw four games and quickly fell in love with the Michigan softball program.
They play amazing softball. They have one of the most legendary coaching staffs in the game. The Wolverines have a rich tradition that they revere and make a point to celebrate. This season they opened and dedicated one of the nicest softball stadiums in the nation. They have a loyal, fun fan base of which I am glad to now be a part.
The Wolverines crushed Michigan State in the two games I watched. Two grand slams, several home runs and a mercy-rule ending. It was one of the most potent offensive displays I have ever seen.
The two games against Northwestern were quite the opposite. Low scoring, decided by one run and the teams split. Not only hard-fought duels between top-20 teams and conference rivals, but the outcome was to decide who took the Big Ten conference lead and, therefore, who would host the conference tournament. I took this video below of Michigan coming back in the bottom of the seventh inning to win the second game and maintain their share of the lead conference standingsit was intense:
Since the standings were still tied at the end of regular season and their respective run differentials were also equal, a coin toss would decide which co-conference champ would host the Big Ten tournament. Northwestern won the toss and is hosting the tournament that opens today.
I have a lot of respect for Northwesterns program having competed against them several times in the cross-town rivalry at Loyola Chicago. But this weekend Ill be pulling for No. 2 Michigan to pull out the win over top-seeded Northwestern. Go Blue!
An injured Kirk Gibson hitting a pinch-hit walk-off home run off in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Joe Carter crushing a walk-off home run to win the 1993 World Series. Becky Marx sending one over while trailing UCLA to tie the game and get University of Michigan back in the title hunt at the Womens College World Series. These home runs are seared into my memory. They repeatedly make highlight reels and are iconic in the world of sports. But a home run in the recent Western Oregon and Central Washington softball contest perhaps should be celebrated above all.
A post-season appearance hinged on the outcome of the game. Western Oregon senior Sara Tucholsky had never hit a home run in her career. Tucholsky came to the plate in the top of the second inning of the second game with two runners on base and a 0-0 score. She had just three hits in 34 at-bats this season, but she drove a pitch over the centerfield fence.
In her excitement, she missed first base on her home run trot and reversed direction to tag the bag. She tore a ligament in her knee in doing so and crumbled to the ground. While she crawled back to first base, her two teammates crossed the plate, leaving her the only offensive player on the field.
The umpires confirmed that the only option available under the rules was to replace Tucholsky at first base with a pinch runner and have the hit recorded as a two-run single instead of a three-run home run. Any assistance from coaches or trainers while she was an active runner would result in an out.
And then an opposing player, Mallory Holtman, asked if it would it be OK if she helped carry her around and touch each bag.
"Honestly, it's one of those things that I hope anyone would do it for me," Holtman explained. "She hit the ball over her fence. She's a senior; it's her last year I think anyone who knew that we could touch her would have offered to do it, just because it's the right thing to do."
Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace lifted Tucholsky off the ground and supported her weight between them as they began perhaps the longest and most crowded home run trot in the game's history.
Accompanied by a standing ovation from the fans, they finally reached home plate and passed the home run hitter into the arms of her own teammates. Then Holtman and Wallace returned to their positions and tried to win the game.
Central Washington did rally for two runs in the bottom of the second, but Western Oregon held on for a 4-2 winthe winning run a result of one of the most astounding acts of sportsmanship I have ever seen.
Check it out, and add this home run to the list of most memorable ones you have ever seen:
An 18-year-old kid dying of cancer in Pennsylvania has one last wish, a chance to swing a bat (maybe) one last time in a real baseball game. An absolutely amazing storyfrom the Pittsburgh post-Gazette about courage and dreams coming true.
Pitch In For Baseball™, the youth baseball charity that has partnered with Little League International since 2005, is taking on its biggest project to date.
Even though Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans more than two years ago, many schools in that region have yet to see baseball return to their community. As a result, Pitch In For Baseball is partnering with the Recovery School District to help restart youth baseball and softball at 25 middle school and high school programs in the city.
Allen Woods, Athletic Director for the Recovery School District in New Orleans, shared his perspective on the project. “I am constantly looking for opportunities for our students to participate in wholesome athletic programs. When Pitch In For Baseball contacted me about their plan to help the children of New Orleans I was elated. The help being provided by Pitch In For Baseball will allow our students to train, learn and play one of Americas favorite past times again. In New Orleans we will be saying ‘Batter's Up!’ this spring.”
“This is a very important project and a huge challenge for our organization,” said Pitch In For Baseball Executive Director, David Rhode. “We have a strong desire to see the kids of New Orleans get all of the opportunities they so richly deserve. Having a chance to play baseball is just one small piece of that equation.”
The effort to provide equipment and uniforms to the public schools is just part of a broader program to help the kids of New Orleans. Pitch In For Baseball is helping to arrange coaching clinics and is also working closely with local politicians and Little League’s Urban Initiative to expand Little League’s impact on the storm-ravaged community.
Pitch In For Baseball, a 501(c) 3 charity, will need the continued donations of equipment and financial support to make this project happen. “We have a January 19th deadline to collect and ship this equipment. We will need a lot of assistance from a lot of generous donors to help make this project a reality,” said Rhode.
Who doesnt love a good t-shirt? I know I do. ESPN recently published some of the t-shirt slogans that didnt make the cut in the MLB online team shops. My two favorite slogans just so happen to be from the two teams I love to watch play each other the most the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Check out Rejected T-shirt slogans to view some of these hysterical MLB rejected t-shirt slogans.
Do you refer to the sport as soccer or football? Well, no matter what you call it you will love this video of the top 50 goals.
How extreme is extreme? Well, a recent photo essay by TIME will show you just what it means to push the limits. The North Pole Marathon, which is run entirely across the frozen Arctic Ocean, is just one of the 13 most Extreme Marathons in the world.
Andy Roddick has the fastest serve recorded in pro tennis at 155 mph. Watch this Active video
Anyone else thinking, I wish I could serve like that? These 10 Tips for Faster Serves from Active will help you be more like the legend himself.
I would assume everyone has at least some knowledge of the protests going on regarding the Olympics and Torch Relay, but have you played the video game in which your goal is to "navigate the Olympic torch away from angry protesters." It is an interesting way of handling the situation to say the least, brought to you by ESPN. Play Torch Run and let us know your thoughts on the game and the situation.
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Every Little Leaguer dreams of what it's like to play in the bigs. For the 20- some members of the Mudcats and Lugnuts of Hermosa Beach, California they actually got the chance.
The comedy troupe Improv Everywherefamous for its staged musical number in a food courtrecently transformed a typical Southern California Little League game into a dazzling spectacle of face-painted fans, costumed mascots, Jumbotron highlights and even a flyover from the Goodyear Blimp.
Best of all, none of the participants had any idea beforehand what was to occur. With a little help from the Hermosa Beach Little League commissioner, Improv Everywhere was able to create programs with detailed player information and provide in-depth play-by-play coverage from NBC Sports broadcaster Jim Gray, without a single player, parent or coach in on the joke.
Any doubt about the lasting effect this theatrical event may have had on the teams can be summed up in an e-mail sent to Improv Everywhere from one of the parents involved.
I believe you guys are behind the “Hermosa Beach Little League” taping that took place Saturday, March 10th, 2007. The parents will be talking about this for a long time… the kids even longer. My son was a pitcher on the Lugnuts. We had a long/tough season last year. Saturday made up for everything. I want to sincerely thank you for making Saturday so unbelievable. It was like a birthday, Christmas, and New Years Eve captured in a few amazing hours. Thanks a million for a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The NCAA crowned the mens basketball national champion last night when the University of Kansas overtook Memphis State in overtime. Memphis, ranked 339th of the country's 341 teams with 59 percent free-throw shooting, missed four of their last five shots from the stripe to allow Kansas to force overtime. The Jayhawks emerged victorious, 75-68, on the 20th anniversary of their last NCAA championship win.
I want to take a moment to display the highlights of one of the greatest single-elimination tournaments of all time. Thats right, here is One Shining Moment, where you can see the best of three weeks and 64 games worth of college basketball:
Lisa Fernandez, a three-time Olympic champion and one of the best pitchers in the world, wasnt good enough to beat out Jennie Finch, Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott to make the U.S. National Teams final Olympic roster as the team readies for Beijing.
A few weeks ago, Fernandez admitted she was having a tough time getting her skills back, but was confident she could still play at a high level.
"I think I still have it," she said. "I think the advantage I have is my experience. I have the heart."
And she does. Ive followed Fernandezs career dating back to 1994 during her days at UCLA, where she led the Bruins to two NCAA championships. I watched her win a gold medal in the first Olympic Games that included the sport of softball. Every girl on my softball team had the Lisa Fernandez Louisville Slugger bat.
The truth is her vast amounts of experience and heart werent enough to earn her a spot in the Olympic rotation. When I interviewed Fernandez at the 2007 World Cup of Softball and asked her if she was planning on mounting a comeback, I believed she had a good chance of making it. Not only did she dominate opponents in the batters box with world-class style, but was a skilled third baseman and very strong hitter.
However, head coach Mike Candrea didnt think Fernandez got back to her usual dominating self after taking three years off to start a family.
"I was really hoping she would get close to where she was in 2004," said Candrea. " I wanted her to go out on top."
So while 37-year-old Fernandez has been left off the Olympic roster, she has been named a replacement player in the event someone gets injured. I don't think Candrea made a mistake but I sincerely wish that the Olympic roster allowed for one more player. I believe she is still the greatest softball player to ever play the game and appreciate the tremendous role she played in advancing the sport and giving female athletes someone to look up to.
Do you think Lisa Fernandez should have been included on the Olympic roster because of her versatility and experienceor does Team USA have the most solid squad possible now?
The 2008 USA Softball Olympic team roster:
Monica Abbott, Salinas, Calif. (University of Tennessee 07)
Laura Berg, Santa Fe Springs, Calif. (Graduate 98)
1996. Bill Clinton was president, the New York Yankees defeated the Atlanta Braves in six games to win their 23rd World Series title and an oddly-named collection of University of South Carolina graduates called Hootie and the Blowfish were the most popular band the world.
It was also the last time the USA Softball Women’s National team had lost a game.
That was until last night, when Virginia Tech hurler Angela Tincher no-hit the national team in a 1-0 surprising victory in Oklahoma City. The national team's loss was their first since May 3, 1996a defeat to California Select in Los Angeles, Califand broke a 185-game pre-Olympic tour win streak.
“My hat goes off to Angela Tincher tonight,” said head coach Mike Candrea. “She pitched a great ball game. I told our team what she was capable of and told them to be ready to go. But she came out firing and really kept us off our game.”
Perhaps even more surprising was the identity of the losing pitcher; staff ace Jennie Finch lasted only four innings, allowing one run and four hits over that span. Team USA had outscored its opponents 1,475-24 before last night's contest, including a 23-0 thrashing of the DePaul Blue Demons just hours before Tincher took the mound.
What do you think? Was the loss simply a minor speed bump for a team heavily favored to take the gold this summer or could this mean future problems for Team USA in Beijing? And would a strugglingif slightly imperfectTeam USA really be the worst thing for the sport of softball globally? (Many people think team USA's otherworldly dominance is a major factor in the sport being removed from Olympic rotation.)</p>
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