Learning the ropes

Soccer is becoming a bigger sport every year in Alpena, and if Alpena High soccer coach Tim Storch has his way, the Storch Soccer Academy will help sculpt area players into the kind of players that can easily dominate their opponents.

The Storch Soccer Academy is a soccer camp which started on Monday and ends on Friday. It is open to both male and female soccer players, from ages 12 to 17. There are two camps: a goalie camp, which runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the fielders camp, which runs from 2-5 p.m.

Storch has hosted soccer camps since graduating from college in 1980, and throughout his coaching career. He has helped run programs at Oakland University and Central Michigan, while operating his own camp in the Troy area.

Storch helped set a precident for Michigan soccer camps when he opened one of the first goalie schools in the state.

“Goal keeping is still the forgotten position in soccer, as most players want to score. However, it remains one of the most important. Seven players signed up for the goalie program this year. I couldn’t be happier with the turn out. About 60 kids signed up for the week, up from 40 last year. Hopefully, this number just keeps growing each year,” Storch said.

Every day of the camp focuses on teaching and refining specific skills. On Monday, players learned about shielding and dribbling. On Tuesday, players learned about attacking and offensive skills, and today they will learn about passing and receiving.

Future lessons will revolve around shooting and setting up attacks on the net on Thursday, while Friday will see players learning finesse moves such as head-ins, tackles and throw-ins.

Many of the younger players at the camp are getting their first taste of serious soccer education, although other players are more experienced with Storch’s methods.

Mitch Mead is a sophomore varsity soccer player who understands the importance of the Storch Soccer Academy in boosting and refining his soccer skills.

“It’s really useful to break up the off-season and gets you back on track and back in shape. I think it’s especially useful in finding out what the team is going to be like this year and what to expect from the younger players,” Mead said.

Storch believes that off-season camps like this are essential for keeping athletic teams of all types competitive when the next season kicks into gear.

“If any player or any team wants to be competitive, they can’t let their skills slip in the off-season. They have to understand that this is the time when you’re honing and refining your basic abilities. You can’t start refining those skills when you step on the field the first day of practice,” Storch said.

Athletic camps can also serve as a useful way for players to get to know each other, and to get a feel for each others personalities. Knowing a player more fully can help create more empathic game play on the field.

“It’s definitely a way to make us more of a family and to help us understand how to work together for the benefit of the team,” Mead said.

Once the camp is over and the season begins, Storch hopes the benefits on his players will show through continuing success, giving them a chance to build off the solid momentum from last year’s 9-8-2 season.

“By the time practice hits, we (the coaches) have to be more worried about which players we’re cutting, which players we’re keeping and where those players going to fit in on the team. And by the time of the first game, you have to be more concerned with tactical approaches to each team, instead of focusing on basic skills. Practicing this skills now (at the camp) keeps players ahead of the curve when that game time comes,” Storch said.

Players interested in the camp can still attend the last three days at a price of $15 a day. Call Storch at 248-961-2553 or e-mail him at tmstorch2@gmail.com to discuss attending.

Eric Benac can be reached via email at ebenac@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.