Elementary school girls lit up the Laurel Springs Park fields with neon pink during the launch of the Ladies Leadership Soccer Camp. The two-day camp is in its first year and was open to girls in second through fifth grade.
Cpl. Michael De Paulo developed the soccer program run by officers. De Paulo is a licensed soccer coach for the La Plata Youth Soccer Association; his daughter Leah, 8, is on a travel team. The SROs run other summer camps — baseball, football and basketball — but none that Leah was interested in. “It was a no brainer for me,” De Paulo said. “Let’s start a soccer camp.”
Campers spent their first day spent split into groups, each with similarly aged girls. The groups rotated through stations where they learned juggling, throwing, punting, passing and shooting. Each camper was scored on her skills, allowing instructors to make up evenly balanced teams to scrimmage on Friday. Girls could be veteran soccer players or novices. The camp was open to those of all skill levels.
Members of the SRO unit with soccer backgrounds served as instructors. Additional instructors also have footie experience — playing in high school, college and co-ed recreation leagues. The camp has a leadership component, which De Paulo’s wife Rachel presented Friday. She discussed life skills such sportsmanship, teamwork, nutrition and self-management. And there was plenty of soccer.
“I like sports and I’ve been doing soccer since I was four,” said Sophie Legagneux, a fifth grader at Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School, who plays soccer for a league. “I did this camp to get ready for it. It’s like practice.”
Cassie Vaughn played for Thomas Stone High School and Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C. She and her sister, Emily, also a Guilford soccer player, were instructors at the camp. “It empowers girls,” Vaughn said of playing sports. “It builds leadership, it builds confidence and structure.”
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,400 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.