Soccer Shots Returning to Longmont Area with Roosevelt Free Fun Day

September 4, 2018

Kingston Polk, left, and Eli Honstien practice their soccer skills at Soccer Shots in Longmont on Thursday

If you go

What: Soccer Shots Free Fun Day

When: 10 and 11 a.m. Saturday

Where: Roosevelt Park, 700 Longs Peak Ave.

Cost: Free

More info: bit.ly/2PWBlf5

Stephanie Seale is hoping that in five or 10 years, kids in the Longmont area will play pick-up soccer in the streets or city parks with the help of an early childhood education from Soccer Shots.

Seale is bringing a local franchise of the national Soccer Shots company back to Longmont after a previous coach and franchise owner let the program lapse into a three-year hiatus.

Seale played soccer when she was young and kept with the sport through college. She coached both her kids, now 11 and 14, in soccer until they were about 7 and found that she enjoys coaching young kids.

She was working for years writing software for her parents’ insurance company when her parents decided to sell the company and retire.

It was her chance to find her passion and she was perusing Facebook when a Soccer Shots ad caught her eye.

“It said something like ‘Mix your passion with your career’ and had a photo of kids kicking a ball around and so I applied,” she said.

Less than four months later, Seale played the role of Cookie Monster among a group of 3- to 5-year-olds excitedly kicking miniature soccer balls around a “soccer island” drawn in chalk at Here We Grow preschool.

Seale and an assistant coach told the children that the word of the day is “respect” and it means to be nice to others. They got each child to practice scoring a goal while the others cheered them on and then high-fived them once they’d scored.

Seale said introducing soccer in this non-competitive way to young children is crucial to making it enjoyable for them.

“We teach themes like respect, patience and confidence and we weave it into the soccer lessons. And we hit upon those themes repeatedly so they don’t just hear it once and it goes in one ear and out the other,” Seale said about the curriculum.

Seale is preparing to launch the first season of Soccer Shots in the Longmont area this summer. There is the Mini program for 2- to 3-year-olds, the Classic program for 3- to 5-year-olds and the Premier program for 5- to 8-year-olds. The 10-week season will cost $150 per child but Seale is holding a free fun day at Roosevelt Park on Saturday with two sessions each per age group.

Seale said her goal is to increase the popularity of soccer in the United States and so she hopes Soccer Shots can instill a love of the game early in kids’ lives.

“Soccer is the natural entry to sports because literally all you have to be able to do is kick a ball and almost any child can do that. Plus you don’t need a goal. You can use two rocks or sticks, so it’s very accessible,” she said. “Around the world, kids might not even have a ball. They’re using paper wrapped in tape or whatever they can find.”

Seale said kids tend to quit sports when they’re older because it doesn’t feel fun anymore. She wants Soccer Shots students to learn about soccer in a fun environment.

“We’re trying to show them that this can be a non-competitive, fun way to get into sports and teach patience and respect,” she said. “Other countries are immersed in soccer and here in the United States, it’s scheduled. You go to soccer from 2:30 to 4:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays and then maybe a game on Saturdays. In other countries there is this sense of spontaneous soccer that brings communities together.”

Seale said she visited Scotland and the town would show up to a particular field on Wednesday nights to play soccer — 4-year-olds and 74-year-olds having fun with as many as 40 people on the field.

“That’s what I want for kids here, rather than them sitting inside and playing Fortnite because it is so accessible for anyone,” she said. “And maybe if we start young, then these kids will go home and kick the ball around in the backyard ... when the community is going out for exercise, it creates a sense of belonging, which can help with depression and addiction if you have a place to show up and be a part of something.”

Karen Antonacci: 303-684-5226, antonaccik@times-call.com or twitter.com/ktonacci

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