Kristine Lilly Explains Why Soccer Camps Aren’t Just for Kids

Kristine Lilly Steward Health Care

Kristine Lilly is a legendary U.S. Soccer World Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist and Steward’s Community Wellness Ambassador.

A few weeks ago, TeamFirst Soccer Academy, the business I co-founded with my former teammates Mia Hamm and Tisha Venturini Hoch, headed to Atlanta. We hosted our first camp session of the year.  Typically, we run a two-day soccer clinic for boys and girls ages 7 to 16. At this session, we tried something new and added another day to the schedule called it Fantasy Camp.

This extra day was a three-hour session for anyone age 21 and older.  It was the first time we were running a session for adults who love the game of soccer and followed us through the years we played professional soccer.

Leading up the weekend, I kept thinking, “okay, this will be fun.”  We were excited to run a camp for people that saw us play or knew who we were without their parents telling them. We weren’t necessarily sure how many people would attend, but as the registrations started to come in, we knew everything was looking good.

We ended up with about 55 people from all over the country and with varying soccer levels, but the same love and excitement for the game and to meet us.  As everyone started to arrive and put on their gear, you could feel a bit of nervousness. I am not sure if it was because they were going to meet us, or it was because they were putting on cleats that they hadn’t worn in a while.

To begin the session, we warmed them up with our old school, no ball warmups and made sure everyone was nice and loose before we started. Then we got going with ball skills, drills and finally some playing. To play against us ‒ their heroes/idols/role models ‒ was, for many, the highlight of this camp. Unfortunately, our game was cut short because of thunder and lightning, but we all walked off the field in one piece and a little tired and sore.

The event wrapped up with a celebratory meal, question and answer segment, and autographs. The camp was successful, and everyone seemed to experience what they were hoping to get out of it. I found, for me, I felt more emotions than I thought I would feel.

I enjoyed watching these people, no matter how old they were or what gender, come out to do something they love with people they admired. It truly was about getting out of their comfort zone (which we always preach to our young kids) and putting themselves out there. It was also fun to teach them and tell them stories of our time on that National Team.

I am the first one to admit that I sometimes get nervous or anxious about starting something new or stepping outside that comfort zone.  Just think about the opportunities you could miss if you don’t.  Let’s all try to get out of our comfort zone, live life to its fullest, and maybe even hang out with your heroes.

Always Believe!

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