Stillwater News Press

Sports

June 1, 2013

Stillwater High sports teams to hold summer youth camps

STILLWATER, Okla. — Pick a Stillwater star — past or present. Chances are they probably honed their skills and began their development while attending one of Stillwater High School’s many camps over the years.

From football to softball, volleyball to soccer, if there’s a sport played at Stillwater High, there’s also probably a camp for it. Camps give a chance for the Pioneers of tomorrow to develop their game at an early age.

But these camps are about more than just finding the next Matt Holliday or Josh Fields.

“There’s a couple of purposes for the camps that we have,” Stillwater football coach and athletic director Tucker Barnard said. “One is that we want to get young kids involved playing various sports. We know there’s lots of data out there about the success that kids who are involved in athletics and other extra curricular activities and the success they have in the classroom. We think that these activities are a big part of the success off the field.”

Barnard is far from a coach just wanting to get more interested in football and hoping to draw from Stillwater’s deep talent pool. He’s also a parent of a 10-year-old boy, who just completed Michael Davis’ Stillwater basketball camp Friday.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Barnard said. “I’ve got a son who is 10 and he just finished up his last day of basketball camp today. That’s all he’s been talking about all day, that’s how excited he is. He’ll go to football camp here in a couple weeks. ... A lot of us coaches have kids that age. You just get to work with them and have fun, work with some of their friends and we really enjoy it.”

For Stillwater soccer coach Seth Condley, it’s hard to tell who enjoys his Pioneer Soccer Academy more — the kids or him and his players. And over the course of the last few years, Condley’s July camp has sort of become one of the go-to camps for the summer.

“That’s one of the fun parts of my job,” Condley said. “I love to interact with young kids and hopefully develop a love for sports, but soccer in general just to get the kids out and about. Hopefully, they come play for us.”

Condley admitted that it is hard to teach so many young minds so much in the span of what usually amounts to about four days — providing little if any support to the players once they get to high school. But that’s not what these camps are necessarily about.

It’s about building relationships with the players and coaching staffs. It’s about instilling that Pioneer pride that runs rampant through the high school hallways. But mostly it’s about the T-shirts.

“That’s a big deal,” Barnard said. “That Pioneer pride is something that we want to develop is just a pride in our school and our town. It’s a lot of fun for the kids to come out. They get a blue and gold camp T-shirt and break out on Pioneers, so it’s a lot of fun.

“It’s fun to walk downtown on a Saturday and see all these little kids wearing Pioneer camp T-shirts. The second they get them, those guys and girls wear them with pride.”

If nothing else, that’s something that any camper can take away from Stillwater’s summer camps — pride. Pride in the fact that they are helping to continue the tradition of excellence that starts at such a young age.

And who knows, maybe one of them will become the next Matt Holliday or Chris Perry.

For Condley it’s already starting to happen.

“The crazy thing is that I’ve been doing this camp for so long now that it’s come true,” Condley said. “I’ve got kids that started my first year that are on my team now. (The camps are) a good little building block and a good opportunity for the younger kids to get used to me and how I coach.

“It also means I’m getting old. I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve actually been doing this 10 years, which really isn’t that long in the coaching profession. But it’s a pretty cool testament to see the kids stick with it and enjoy it.”

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