Hawkeye soccer welcomes youth athletes back to summer camp

After the event was canceled last summer because of COVID-19, the Hawkeye soccer team is back hosting the annual youth and prospect camps in Iowa City.


Casey Stone

The Iowa soccer team cheers for their teammates during the senior day celebration before the start of the Iowa Soccer senior day game against Purdue on Mar. 28, 2021 at the Iowa Soccer Complex. Iowa defeated Purdue 1-0.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

Summer youth and prospect camps are a staple for most Hawkeye athletic programs, and Iowa soccer is no exception. Earlier this summer, Hawkeye soccer hosted their ID and youth camps for the first time in two years.

ID camps are meant for high school players who are looking to compete collegiately — multiple coaches from different schools traveled to Iowa City to help with the ID camps.

With attendance restrictions for the majority of the spring season, it was one of the first times Iowa soccer could celebrate its on-the-field success from 2020-21.

After a 2-7-1 regular season record, Iowa won four games in a row to take home the program’s first-ever Big Ten Tournament title. At the NCAA Tournament, the Hawkeyes also notched their first national tournament win against Campbell, 1-0.

The huge turnout at the ID and youth camps meant a lot to the Hawkeye coaching staff.

“We had an exciting year, and being able to share that excitement with the community through something other than social media was so unbelievable,” Iowa soccer head coach Dave DiIanni said.

The Hawkeye soccer team hosted four camps throughout the summer: two for Iowa soccer prospects, a camp for middle school athletes, and one for younger children still learning the game.

The last round of elite prospect camps wrapped up on July 25, which DiIanni said capped a great group of athletes to break up the monotony of the pandemic.

“From a life perspective,” DiIanni said. “Everybody getting out and breathing fresh air and socializing is something we all took for granted before the pandemic.”

Along with giving back to the community, DiIanni said, there is also the bonus of Hawkeye soccer players engaging with the community. This past summer, six players took part in helping with the youth soccer camp — seniors Sarah Wheaton, Josie Durr, and Samantha Tawharu, graduate student Courtney Powell, and sophomore Rielee Fetty and Sabrina Shaw.

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“These women are role models and mentors to these campers, and these campers want to be them,” Diani said. “I was so impressed and so proud of our athletes this particular summer who choose to work our camps and they represented our program very well and led to us having a successful camp season.”

Wheaton and the other Iowa soccer players helped coach the young athletes, giving them pointers and answering questions about being a college athlete. For the camps with younger children, Wheaton said, it was more about keeping the kids entertained.

Wheaton spent the summer working at a local daycare, and is interested in being an occupational therapist in either a classroom or medical setting. Along with her job at the daycare, the camp also gave her tools to use going forward in her career.

“Each kid is different, and you don’t realize how different until you’re with them in one big setting all at once,” Wheaton said. “It’s taught me to appreciate the differences each kid has and learning how to deal with those differences can make it all one great atmosphere.”

The Hawkeyes will now turn their attention to the preseason before opening with an exhibition game against South Dakota on Aug, 7.

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