Soccer camp reflects community spirit
While parents look for quality programs at the right price, kids care more about fun and friends. Cleveland Heights teacher and soccer coach Sean Sullivan covers all those bases.
After running the city’s Community Services Camp for 12 years, Sullivan created the Heights United Soccer Academy Summer Camp in 2005. Camp sessions are held at Oxford Elementary School for boys and girls ages 5–14. The camp has grown from 12 campers the first year to more than 150 in 2009. "Even at the beginning stages, kids can see instant success in soccer," says Sullivan. "You don’t have to be the strongest or the fastest. Everybody works together in soccer."
Sullivan also coaches the men’s varsity team at Heights High and serves as director of coaching for the City of Cleveland Heights and the Eastside Kickers travel club soccer. In 2009, Cleveland Scene named him Best Soccer Coach.
At Heights United Soccer Academy Summer Camp the play is intense, with high-end training from some of the best players in Northeast Ohio. The camp focuses on individualized foot skills and tactics, speed and agility drills, and daily tournament games, plus weekly contests, theme days, arts and crafts; and, on rainy days, drama and indoor games.
The biggest draw is the all-ages Super League. Kids choose World Cup soccer teams and make their own strategy decisions. Sullivan encourages his counselors to make the top three draft picks, and then he places the rest of the staff on teams, with the kids playing alongside teen counselors and Sullivan himself. The rules allow older players to score a goal only after a younger player has scored. "The older ones become more aware of when to apply pressure and when to back off, while the younger players step up their game and gain confidence,” observes Sullivan.
Sullivan also has a passion for community service, expecting campers to give back as well, with yard services to senior citizens. In addition, Sullivan has organized numerous stuffed-animal drives for Providence House.
Sullivan believes that no family should be turned away from playing soccer, so he offers reasonable pricing, scholarships and fundraising opportunities. The full sessions (June 21–July 7 and July 8–23) cost $340, but "early bird" specials and sibling discounts are available. For more information on the summer soccer program, check the Web site at www.heightsunitedsoccer.com. You can reach Sullivan by e-mail at Sean@HeightsUnitedSoccer.com, or by phone at 216-849-4505.
Gay Eyerman is a professional freelance writer living in University Heights. Three of her five children play on Eastside Kickers teams.