spell,-soccer-camp-017By Jann Wiswall

In 2011, Ellicottville Central School’s Varsity Soccer Coach Matt Finn took a group of his team members to the Erie Family Soccer Camp where he and his students met “Coach Chris,” who at the time was the soccer coach at Allegheny College. The team and Coach Chris (Keller) hit it off immediately and promised to stay in touch.

The following year, Finn, who also teaches math for grades 7-8 at ECS, wasn’t able to get enough kids to go back to the camp due to summer jobs, driver’s education and other summertime activities.

“Everyone was too busy to spend that much time away from home at a fairly expensive camp,” he explained.

He thought, well, maybe I can get Coach Chris to come to Ellicottville for a camp right here that’s more convenient for the kids. And he did.

Now in its second year, Coach Chris was back for camp, despite the fact that he’s now head coach at Wabash College in Indiana.

“It’s a long drive, but I enjoyed the camp and the kids last year, so I wanted to do it again. It worked out well. I was able to include a visit with friends at Allegany College,” said Keller.

The camp ran from Sunday, July 28 through Wednesday, July 31, with 18-20 boys in grades 7-12, all of whom play on ECS modified, junior varsity and varsity teams. Finn and Coach Chris ran morning and afternoon sessions at the town and village park, with a heavy emphasis on skills development.

“Coach Chris had them doing passing or scoring drills, playing keep-away and working on other skills-oriented activities for at least 45 minutes every session. It’s a great kickoff for the season, which is starting in a few weeks.” said Finn. “It gave them a chance to really focus on what is going to make their teams better this year, and every participant agreed that they learned a lot from the experience.”

Finn and ECS technology teacher Chris Edwards also ran a four-day soccer camp in June, which drew 75 kids — boys and girls — and was coached by 16 members of the boys’ and girls’ varsity teams. They plan to keep at least these two camps going next summer for all who want to participate. Coach Chris has said he’ll be back for the July camp, too.