BT90 Exclusive: Sounders FC camps maintain tradition of NASL camps

Brad Evans has already answered the question dozens of times and was about to answer it again. Surrounded by curious eyes and ears, he said, “I don’t know yet if I’ll be playing in the World Cup. My approach is that I still have to prove myself and I’m trying to do that every day until I’m on that plane to Brazil.”

However, this wasn’t his usual round of questions with media at Starfire. That was made abundantly clear when the follow up question was about his favorite cereal.

This is the experience for Evans at the Sounders FC Spring Break camp last week. The Seattle midfielder and U.S. National Team defender made a guest appearance on Wednesday of the five-day camp, answering questions and signing autographs for the 70 players in attendance. As he left, he took pictures with many of them as well, making memories that can last a lifetime.

“To an 8-year-old, seeing Brad Evans can be a dream come true,” said Sounders FC Manager of Youth Programs Mike Morris. “It means a lot that the players are so supportive of the community.”

That element is nothing new for the Sounders.

It’s something of a tradition that extends well beyond Sounders FC’s inaugural season in Major League Soccer in 2009, too. Back in 1976, Geoff Hurst was at the camps put on by the North American Soccer League’s Sounders. Hurst – now Sir Geoff Hurst MBE – remains the only player to score a hat trick in the World Cup final when he scored three goals against West Germany in a 4-2 win to lift the 1966 World Cup at Wembley Stadium. Yet he had no problem teaching his craft to the young players in Seattle.

“This is what Sounders camps have always been about. It’s about maintaining that high level of community and creating those relationships. Those are memories and experiences that will last forever,” said Taylor Graham, Sounders FC Director of Business Operations. “Those are the legacies that camps are trying to maintain, but also taking new steps to make new experiences.”

The bar has always been high, but each year Morris has looked to exceed the steep expectations set by the previous year. In 2014 that will mean an Adult Dream Camp that will go with the existing programs already offered, which includes 64 summer camps across the state for up to 6,500 campers ages 4-15 years old. Even with turnout that high, Morris still maintains a camper-to-coach ratio of around 10-to-1. This year will also include a five-day Residential Camp that will feel like a full summer camp experience, an Advanced Camp for kids aged 11-18 and Youth Fantasy Camps.

The addition of the Advanced Camp and Adult Dream Camp both came after Morris had several requests for both at different stages of his time working with the camps.

“People were asking why there weren’t camps for older kids, so we added them,” Morris explained. “We’ve focused all of our camps on youth for the longest time. This will be the first time that we’ve branched out to adults. We try to give them as much of an experience as possible of what it’s like to be a Sounders FC player.”

The Adult Dream Camp already sold out all 36 roster slots and is shaking out to be an incredible event for those campers. However, the main focus of the camps program remains on the Sounders FC Summer Camps.

“For a lot of kids, this is their first touch point with soccer and it can make or break a soccer player or a Sounders fan,” Morris said. “My main goal with the summer camps is to make sure that when kids leave, they love soccer, they had a good time, they have a smile on their face and they love the Sounders and they want to come back and keep playing.”

For more information on Sounders FC Camps, visit www.SoundersFC.com/Camps.

Series: