First Annual ¡Viva Azusa! Soccer Camp Scores Big

by Rachel Pledger ’07

From July 31 to August 4, local soccer fans ages 4-17 enjoyed an intensive soccer clinic complete with skills training, scrimmages, and Scripture at Azusa Pacific University’s first ever ¡Viva Azusa! Soccer Camp. Coaches included 18 players from the APU men’s and women’s soccer teams. The event attracted roughly 120-130 youth each day.

The camp started at 5:30 p.m. as youth split up into one of five groups according to age. After a fifteen-minute warm up, players practiced the skill-of-the-day. At the next hour, all of the players met as a group for “Time Out,” a 20-minute break that featured demonstrations and a brief testimony by the coaches. At 7:30 p.m., players returned for an hour of scrimmages.

“I used to have older kids training me,” said ¡Viva Azusa! soccer coach and Business Administration major Sara Odenthal ’07. “It’s great to give back. I hope that I can affect kids the same way that I've been affected.”

The ministry began as a weekly soccer clinic out of The Office of Ministry and Services (MAS). “Phil Wolf and I got together about a month and a half ago and just brainstormed the thought of a free camp for the youth in the city of Azusa. We believed that it would create such a great opportunity to reach out to the community,” said program coordinator Lorena Marquez.

The ¡Viva Azusa! Soccer Camp was funded primarily by donations and sponsorships from local companies and APU men’s soccer friends and family, including faculty, staff, players, and alumni. All-State Insurance Co. in Pomona donated 150-200 soccer balls and Vulcan provided the funds necessary to purchase T-shirts for every camper. “The team captain, Tony Rotunno, had his father donate 200 Gideon’s Bibles so that all the participants can begin or continue their relationship with God,” said Marquez.

“God blessed us with soccer,” coach Phil Wolf said, “That’s why we play, because we love Jesus Christ. He has a plan for you and it’s better than soccer.”

On the final day of camp, all players received a T-shirt, soccer ball, Bible, poster, and various Nike merchandise, from shoes to lanyards.