The Maryland Bays professional soccer team has experienced tremendous success this season and last.
This season, the Columbia-basedBays are undefeated at 8-0 and considered the premiere outdoor soccer team in the country. Last season, the team won the American Professional Soccer League (APSL) championship.
And Bays' player Rob Ryerson, of Laurel, is hoping the team's summer camp can do just as well.
"We had a good turnout this year," said Ryerson, camp director for the approximately 80 participants.
"I think the camp's success is relative to the Bays' success. As long as the Bays are involved in the community and we do well on the field, then I think we will have successful programs off the field."
FOR THE RECORD - A boy was misidentified in a photo that appeared in the June 30 Howard County Sun on Page 22. The caption should have read: "Omid Namazi of the Maryland Bays shows Ben Pierce, 11, of Columbia how to juggle a soccer ball." The Bays summer soccer camp drew 80 youths between the ages of 6 and 14.
The Howard County Sun regrets the error.
The $125-a-week camp has two objectives.
The first is to promote the Bays.
A second one is togive something back to the community that supports the team.
"It is a service we are providing for the kids," Ryerson said. "This the one way the kids can get come out and meet the players on a one-to-one relationship."
The first-year camp, which ran for six hours every weekday this past week at Howard Community College, had 65 boys and15 girls, ages 6 to 14.
"It's tough to show the kids everything in a week," Ryerson said. "We try to show them a lot, so they can go home and take some of the things they learned from the camp. Some of the things we showed them can be used with the kid's team or practicedin their front yard."
For the first 2 1/4 hours of the camp, Ryerson and three other Bay players instruct the youths in soccer skills such as passing, dribbling and shooting.
Instructors first explaineach skill to the youngsters, who are divided into six groups, then demonstrate the skill. Children then practice, as coaches encourage them, give them pointers and guide them.
The budding soccer playersfind the week challenging, yet fun.
"The players always give you praise and teach you teamwork and ball control," said Joanna Bush, 14, of Columbia.
"We get to meet and work with the professional players, and it's fun," said Danny Levi, 13, of Columbia. "We are learning the fundamentals, good ball control, shooting and passing."
"Itsfun to work with the players," said Michael Franey, 9, of Catonsville. "We have been dribbling, shooting and passing."
"Its tough because some of the drills are difficult," said Shana Lloyd, 13, of Ellicott City. "The players will show you what you are doing wrong and show you the proper way to head the ball."
After a half-hour lunch, the kids spend 45 minutes watching soccer instructional films. Then the children swim for an hour. And for the last hour and a half, the youngsters scrimmage in games.
"When I see a kid coming into the camp all rusty -- not being able to do a lot of the basic things to playin a soccer game -- and go away at the end of the week with a betterknowledge of what to do, then that is a personal satisfaction for me," said Omid Namazi of Potomac, a Bays player and camp instructor.
Ryerson, a 1982 Oakland Mills High graduate and two-time All-American at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, feels kids have an advantage when they choose the Bays camp over other area soccer camps.
"The kids are learning from some of the best professional American soccer players in the game," Ryerson said. "The players want to teach the kids everything they can to make them better soccer players. The different players all come from different soccer backgrounds and experiences.
"Each one of the players can relate these experiences they have had in the past to the kids in hopes that some of these kids canhave the same experiences -- like playing on a professional team, traveling overseas or playing college soccer. When they are learning from a player that grew up in the same environment as they did, then the kids develop that much quicker," he said.
"In fact, we (the players who are instructing) went to camp and through the system. We played high school and club soccer. And most of us went on to play in college."
Other camps scheduled for this summer include one in Frederick County at Urbana Community Park, July 29-Aug. 2 and a camp at South Carroll High School in Carroll County, Aug. 5-9.
"Next year maybe we can expand and have a camp in Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties," Ryerson said. "That is one of our goals in the off season -- toget camps developed in those areas."
Said Ryerson: "I feel good when the parents come back to me and say 'Hey, my kids are having fun and learning something.' Then I feel they are getting their money's worth."