Clinton High School men’s soccer coach Brad Spell has spent the last 17 years developing an empire that has come to be known as Dark Horse soccer.
For the past five years, Spell, along with other members of the coaching staff and players, has hosted Darkness Soccer Skills Camp to help develop quality players that will one day become a part of that empire he has been building.
This week, more than 100 campers converged on the field at the soccer complex at the local high school. Every morning, between 8:15-8:30 a.m., students in grades kindergarten through eighth arrived with their balls and water jugs in tow, ready to work on dribbling skills and agility drills.
The camp is being held for the sixth year, and serves as a fundraising event for the soccer program at the high school. With the funds the teams have acquired throughout the last few years, Spell said there has been work completed and equipment purchased to assist the teams. Just last year, a wind screen was placed around the majority of the complex, with funds from this year’s camp to be used for completing the project.
“We have one of the nicest fields around,” Spell said. “You don’t see a lot of college fields that look this good.”
Tuesday morning, after dividing the groups up with a staff member, Spell made his way to the press box high above the field and began directing the activities for the day, all before putting on some of his favorite songs through the sound system.
“What makes this camp go are the staffers,” Spell said. “We use current and former boys and girls soccer players to staff the camp. This year we have roughly 20 kids that come out, give us a week of hard work to make this thing work.”
Hard work is exactly what is happening with the players. Each morning, before camp begins, a good majority of the boys come out at 6:45 a.m. for workouts. As the saying goes, championships are won in the off season, and Spell is working hard to make sure that happens.
According to Spell, the current players that serve as camp staffers receive tuition for their upcoming skills camp in return for the week of working the camp.
Not only do current team members assist during the camp, players from past teams often spend the week helping when needed.
“The purpose of the camp is to generate interest in the sport of soccer and keep the kids excited about the game,” Spell said. “An additional benefit is you get to see what is coming down the pipeline as far as future talent, it helps keep our soccer program moving in the right direction.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.