Ole Miss soccer camp fun all around

IMG_1780Soccer has never been as popular in Oxford than it is right now. And with youth soccer camps at its height, Ole Miss coach Matt Mott is as busy as any point in the year.

Ole Miss just concluded the first week of day camps for both boys and girls. Mott then welcomed the first set of campers that are staying overnight on campus, and learning soccer skills during the day.

“Our numbers are really, really good. They’re up from last year and we’re excited about that. It’s been great weather. We did get a little rain (Monday), but before that the weather has been really, really good for us,” Mott said. “The kids are working hard, but having a good time. The first one went really, really well. We’ve had a lot of kids having fun playing soccer.”

Camps are geared towards different age groups, based on skill level, and all of it revolves around having fun.

“In the day camps we focus a lot on technique, passing, dribbling and receiving balls. All the technical side of the game. We have little fun games set up that we play to help improve their skills. We have a game we call screaming marshmallow and just other crazy games,” Mott said. “We have a whole catalog of games we set up for coaches to do. We typically do it in sessions and stations. Every 10 minutes, we change stations where there is a new game, a new skill they’re working on. And at the end of the two-hour block, we play games where we score goals.

“In the afternoon, they get to go swimming in the Turner Center. They have lunch and then they’re back out for different games in the afternoon. It’s a full day, but it’s fun and our goal is to certainly make them better soccer players the week that they’re here,” Mott continued. “We want them to enjoy the whole camp experience so we get them over to the pool. If they don’t want to swim, they play ping pong or just spend time in the Turner Center. It’s a full 9 to 3 camp.”

When it comes to the older campers, the focus changes some, becoming more of a look at players who are actually able to be recruited for the roster down the road.

“Our overnight camp is just a whole different animal all together. It’s for a little bit more serious soccer players. We bring in college coaches from all over the country. It’s our biggest camp all summer,” Mott said. “In our residential camps, every year, we’ve had one or two campers that we never knew about before that and we start to recruit and bring back in and all that kind of stuff. We do it with players that we have committed so we get to work with them in the camps.

“It’s a great recruiting tool for the older girls. I train them, my assistants train them and it gives all three of us an idea of what it’s like to train them. We get to watch them in games. It’s been great and it’s a great opportunity for them to see what it’s like to be in a soccer program,” Mott added. “They get to play in a top-level facility. I feel like our surface is as good as any in the country as far as I’m concerned. We stay in the dorms that are very, very nice and eat good meals. I think it’s just a great camp. I’m proud of it.”

Following Ole Miss’ last residential camp in July, it’s time for Mott to really focus on the upcoming 2014 season.

“The team will report August 5th. We will have the whole team here for the July semester, second summer school. As coaches, we can’t have any contact with them at all. They can come by the office and stuff, but we can’t be out on the field with them, but they can work out with our conditioning coach Randy (Dorvin). He has been a key to our success the last few years and one of the big reasons we’ve made the big jump we’ve made,” Mott said. “The work that he’s done with them in the weight room has been great for making them fit and ready to play in the fall. We’ve had a big commitment from our team for everybody to come back for that summer session. All six of our signees will be here as well. From the end of June all the way through July, they will be working out together, in class and doing captain’s training at nights out on the field.”

Ole Miss will open its season Aug. 22 at home against Georgia. It will be the first live sporting event ever to appear on the recently created SEC Network.

“Our first match is a huge one. We’re excited, we’re nervous. We’re all of that put into one. It’s tough enough starting out with a conference game because the intensity of a conference match is so much more intense than a non conference match. That’s exciting for us, but our girls understand the pressure that comes along with that,” Mott said. “They will have to ratchet up their intensity level for the first game, but it’s a great opportunity to be on national TV and to be on the first live event on the SEC Network. I think it will be a great trivia question for years to come. It’s great that it’s a women’s soccer game. I think it shows the commitment from the SEC to put our game on as the first one ever. We’re thrilled to represent Ole Miss and to show the country what SEC soccer has to offer.”


Friday night games have always been a big draw locally and Mott felt like that would be the case this year.

“I’ll be surprised if we don’t set records for attendance. We’ve always done well on the opening night, and then when you throw in the idea that it’s Georgia and it’s on national TV, this community will come out,” Mott said. “We’ve been so fortunate with our support in my time here.

I hope that we set the attendance record and I hope we have 3 to 5,000 come out. That’s realistically something that can happen.”

The entire world will be soccer crazy the rest of the month with the start of the World Cup in Brazil, the nation Mott has as the favorite, and the home of his former standout player, Rafaelle Souza.

“I got to take Brazil, with them being the home country. They’ve just got fantastic players. Of course some of that is my love of Rafa and what she’s done for us and our program,” Mott said. “I hope the U.S. gets out of their bracket. Their group is going to be really tough for the USA and I always support them, but if I’m picking one to win it, I’m picking Brazil.”


Twitter: @oxfordcitizenjd

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About John Davis

Eighteen years in the business. Dedicated to providing the best local content for sports. Oxford, Lafayette, Ole Miss, youth sports, outdoors and the things nobody else wants to cover.