The Rio Rapids Durango Soccer Club set a blueprint for how youth sports camps can move forward in 2020 in Durango.
The local soccer club, formerly known as the Durango Youth Soccer Association, will wrap up a two-week skills camp Wednesday at the Riverview Sports Complex. Following orders in place by Gov. Jared Polis, no more than 25 players were on each of the two fields, and groups were spread across multiple time windows to allow all 108 campers to safely participate while following protocols in place surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I saw smiles, under the masks, from all the coaches about being back on the field with the kids,” said Kate Kelly, executive director of Rio Rapids Durango SC. “It benefited both the kids and the coaches.”
There were no scrimmages or contact between players during the camp. All activities were focused on individual skill development.
Parents had to stay in their cars during the camp, and players were asked to bring their own ball and water.
Kelly said guidelines in place by state and local officials, as well as recommended action from soccer governing bodies, meant coaches disinfected equipment between every session.
It was the first activity for Rio Rapids Durango SC this season. The annual Durango Shootout tournament held each spring the previous 25 years was canceled by coronavirus, and registered teams were given full refunds. That was a blow to the club that uses that tournament as its key fundraiser each year, not to mention the loss for the Durango economy, which was estimated at $2.3 million in 2019.
On-field programming for the spring was canceled. As soon as camps were allowed to be held, the club rushed to provide its members activity. The result was the Summer SPEED 2020 camp. Players as young as 9 and as old as 15 participated.
While it was an organized camp, players were limited to 40 minutes of individual work for six days spread across two weeks. The camp was free to all Rio Rapids Durango SC members.
“Being in an environment of giving and care,” Kelly said when asked what the best part of being back on the field was. “I love being with the players and the coaches.”
Fort Lewis College will host soccer camps in July and August. Boys and girls ID camps will be held July 12-15. Youth camp will be held July 20-24, and a summer break camp will be held Aug. 3-7. Those camps are a key fundraiser for the men’s and women’s Skyhawks soccer programs.