Revolution camp fires up players

160 come from near and far to absorb intensive instruction

From The Cover

Field hockey

August 03, 2006|By KENT BAKER | KENT BAKER,SUN REPORTER

They come as high school teammates and as individuals with one common goal: to hone their field hockey talents through individualized attention from highly skilled instructors.

From local areas and as far away as Massachusetts and Ohio, 160 eager students ages 10 to 18 have congregated at Johns Hopkins University this week for the Revolution Field Hockey Camp, one of several dozen such camps being held throughout the United States this summer.

Even the blistering three-digit temperatures and stifling humidity are not searing their enthusiasm for improving their games and making new friends.

"It's hot. The first day was kind of tough, but there are plenty of water breaks and that makes it easier," said Chantal Serle, 18, of Columbus, Ohio, an incoming freshman at Hopkins.

The event allows Blue Jays coach Megan Callahan, the camp director, to introduce her new recruits to the faster and more refined collegiate sport.

"It's an opportunity to expose them to what's coming," said Callahan, who conducted a similar camp last year at West Nottingham Academy in Colora, Md., while the university's fields were under construction. "We've had day camps in the past, but never an overnight one."

With 17 instructors, including six males, the teacher-to-student ratio is nearly 1 to 9. So, skill sessions (one each in the morning and afternoon) can be devoted to highly personalized teaching. Then, evenings bring scrimmages, which the players avidly await.

"I would say playing against the coaches is the highlight," said Bridget Brown, 14, of Annapolis, who will attend Severn School this fall. "Those guys from the Netherlands, they're really good. I played for 45 minutes straight and I looked like I just took a shower."

"We played against people who already played here and the coaches," added Serle. "It was an awakening, how good they are. Maarten Gerlag is teaching us all new tricks."

Gerlag is one of the camp's five male coaches from the Netherlands. Men's field hockey is popular in many countries, and is an Olympic sport.

Revolution Field Hockey Camps deals with the business end of the camp, such as meals and dormitories, while Callahan orchestrates the instructional aspect. Players pay between $395 and $455 to attend the four-day camp (depending on whether they sleep in the dorms), and supply most of their own equipment.

"We have beginners to girls in college next fall," said Callahan, who played at the University of Maryland and has a 105-72 record in nine seasons as the Hopkins coach. "We go from basic skills to real game strategies. The heat does slow everybody down a little bit, but we have two trainers on our staff and the girls all get water bottle access and they can go in the pool after lunch."

"It's the opportunity to get better and make friends at the same time," said Darby Hill of suburban Philadelphia, one of the youngest campers at 11. "You can work on everything - dribbling, passing, drives, ball handling, scoring. I'm learning a lot."

"Our whole team [Severn] came here before tryouts and camp," said Brown. "It's a great place to get warmed up."

Literally and figuratively.

kent.baker@baltsun.com

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