By Monty Campbell
The Cove Herald
Recently, several dozen Copperas Cove youth were witnessed playing and receiving the opportunity to emulate renowned athletes such as David Beckham and Renaldo by partaking in the globe’s most popular sport — soccer.
To be more precise, 85 campers brought their skills to the Bulldawg Soccer Camp conducted by Cove girls head coach Hagen Streckel and boys’ head coach John Jackson at the high school and at Avenue E Field July 30-Aug. 2
“Success breeds interest. More people are willing to be around winning soccer, people are more apt to be around success,” Jackson said. “The success of the program really helps the camp. We do a lot things in the camp that we work on in practice to breed familiarity. That’s why the kids come out in the summer because we continue doing the same things.”
Doing the same things continually this past season may have been the primary reason that Jackson’s Bulldawgs challenged for the post-season through the final contest of the season. It was not until a heartbreaking defeat to the Brownwood Lions that officially ended any hopes to reach the playoffs for the Dawgs.
Streckel’s Lady Dawgs were not quite as fortunate as they battled injuries throughout the season. bEven with injuries, the team remained competetive in the coach’s first season at the female helm, providing for optimism running through the camp.
“Our goal (in the camp) is to get the kids better prepared with fundamental soccer,” Bulldawg head coach John Jackson said. “We are emphasizing individual skills and once we are able to control the ball, then we can teach them team soccer.”
Regardless of their age group — the younger athletes instructed by Jackson and Streckel at the high school or the high school athletes who were given instruction from Copperas Cove alum Mike Hill at Avenue E — the campers received curriculum based training, allowing them to see the progression of training throughout the program.
“Older kids are role models to the younger kids out here,” Jackson said. “The six-year-old wants to be like the 15-year-old and that’s why we have the progression for the kids to come out and see.”
The camp instructor at Avenue E was a name that many Cove soccer diehards have come to love and has ties to the Bulldawg soccer program that runs deeper than the school itself.
Hill set the 5A single-season scoring record while playing for Streckel at Copperas Cove High School and then became an All-American Division-III player on the pitch at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, under the tutelage of Jackson. He is currently the head soccer coach at Foster High School, near Houston.
In the mornings of the camp, the athletes were instructed on individual skill such as dribbling, shooting and passing. The instructors did not expound on team play in the morning sessions as to drill what the campers learned into their heads.
In the evening play, the instructors allowed the players to put what they learned in the individual drills to use on the pitch, under match play circumstances.
And with the level of expertise, the athletes are well on their way to becoming solid players on the pitch.