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Youth camp bolsters Sewickley Academy soccer program

| Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Sewickley Academy knows soccer.

Since 1997, the boys soccer team has claimed four WPIAL titles and three PIAA titles, including its most recent pair of titles in the fall. The girls have also won four WPIAL titles in that span along with a state title in 2003.

Although winning programs don't grow on trees, that doesn't mean they aren't grown.

This week, Sewickley Academy has been running its annual co-ed soccer camp for kindergarten through fourth grade. Roughly 40 kids have come out each morning from 9 to noon to learn the basics of the game and develop their skills.

Starting kids in the sport at a young age has been a strong contributing factor to the sustained success Sewickley Academy has found. Through local club teams and camps like this one, children in the Sewickley area are provided with plenty of opportunities to be prepared for high school competition before they even get there.

“The youth helps,” boys varsity coach James Boone said. “The parents and the Cup teams help, and then we fine tune them to see if they want to play on the next level or not.”

Simply teaching the kids how to play soccer isn't the top priority of the camp, though.

“I think the most important thing at this young age is to learn the love of the game,” camp director and girls varsity soccer coach Jessica Peluso said. “I think it should be fun and exciting.”

With the World Cup in full swing, it's the perfect time to show kids the excitement that surrounds the sport around the globe. Peluso has used World Cup themes for various drills throughout the week, she said.

“All of these kids, when we started, I asked how many of them had seen part of the World Cup,” Peluso said, “and they all raised their hands.”

While the consistent cultivation of talent is what originally led to a winning tradition, it now has come full circle. Boone and Peluso agree that the school's success has in turn led to a continued interest in soccer on the youth level.

Current members and alumni of the girls varsity team were on the field throughout the week helping to run the camp, giving the kids a glimpse at what their future could hold.

“If the kids go to school here, then they see them in the hall or in the paper,” Peluso said, “and that gives them someone to look up to.”

Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at ghorvath@tribweb.com or via Twitter @GHorvath_Trib.

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