By KYLE DILLER
Peoria Journal Star
After winning the Class 2A state soccer championship last season, coaches and players at Peoria Notre Dame High School are preparing to compete for that title for years to come.
Monday morning (June 13) was the kickoff for the 2011 Peoria Notre Dame Boys Soccer School. The camp allows third-graders through incoming freshmen to learn from the state champions themselves.
“It’s an opportunity for them to come out and meet the coaches and meet a lot of the current players, to see the way we do things,” said head coach Mike Bare, 30. “To come out and actually play on the field that the varsity team plays on, I think they think that’s pretty neat.”
Bare expects about 95 percent of the campers to attend Peoria Notre Dame. Some are likely to be competing for places on the team within the next few years.
“It’s a good experience being taught by people that know the game really well and are ranked even at the national level,” said Timmy Johnson, 14, an incoming freshman.
The most important focus of this school is not scoring goals, but developing touch.
“The first touch is the most important because that’s the basis for your game,” said senior Brad Lazzari, 17. “It’s important to learn that from a young age.”
The camp is aided by players from last season’s championship team, including Lazzari.
“I remember when I was little, older kids helping me out and showing me stuff,” he said. “I looked up to them and it kind of motivated me, so I like to give back.”
Instilling the right mentality in the campers is also key as they look to the future.
“Every day you come out and give everything you have, because when you get to high school we’re going to expect everything you have every day,” said Bare. “And that’s what makes us a special team, and also the success that we’ve had is because everybody buys into what we’re doing here.”