Athletes Become Coaches During Summer Camp

Coaches Britney Holman (right), Jaime Rendich (left-center), and Jennie Christianson (left) talk with campers during mimi-cub camp.

Every summer the fields at Brigham Young University are swarming with hundreds of athletes eager to perfect their skills at one of several Cougar Soccer Camps held each year.

To maintain and direct these large camps the university relies upon the talented players and coaches from the women's soccer program to be the coaches, mentors, and instructors for the campers.

"We decided to have our own players work as the coaches instead of inviting guest coaches and it really enhances the camp," said BYU women's head coach and camp director Jennifer Rockwood. "The campers get a chance to meet and work with the players who then become role models for the campers."

It is through these camps that several athletes from the women's soccer team have learned how to coach a team, and have gained valuable experience to prepare them for coaching after their careers at BYU have ended. Senior Britney Holman, a defender on the Cougar team and a field supervisor for the camps said, "You spend so much time developing a talent and when your playing days are over you are done. Coaching is a good way to stay involved."

For many of the athletes that come to BYU, coaching in the summer camps is their first experience with coaching, an experience that can be a little intimidating for a first time coach. "At camp the players have the opportunity to coach and work with kids on their own," said Rockwood, "that interaction has helped several of the girls to build their confidence which helps them get ready to work with high school and club teams."

Natalyn Lewis, the head coach at Timpanogos High School in Orem, Utah got her first taste of coaching during the Cougar Soccer Camps when she was a player on the BYU team. The experiences she had as a coach taught her how to interact with kids of all ages. "Working with the kids and getting that experience is one of the biggest things you get from being a coach at camp," said Lewis. "You learn quickly that understanding the kids and working with them is almost as important as the game itself."

Participating in the soccer camps gives the athletes on the BYU team the opportunity to see how the game progresses from a coach's perspective. "It's good to be on the other side of things to see how it is to give instruction," said Rockwood. "You realize how hard it can be to coach when you have to motivate your team and strategize your game plan."

Coaching in the camps exposes the players to the skills required for coaching without forcing them to do everything on their own. Lewis said, "When you coach it is difficult to know what you are going to do with the kids for the next hour and a half, but at the camp Coach Rockwood demonstrates to the campers what skills or drills to work on, but you actual teach it to them."

For many of the athletes that coach at the BYU Soccer Summer Camp, it is an experience they wouldn't want to miss. "It is a very fulfilling job," said Holman. "It is great to see the campers' as you watch them in a game fulfilling their potential and doing the things you taught them."

Former BYU Athletes Now Coaching

Name School Position / Graduated

Gabrielle Smart UVSC Head Coach/1995

Celtic Storm Head Coach

Jennifer Waldron UVSC Assistant/2001

Celtic Storm Assistant

Maren Hendershot UNLV Assistant/2000

Laurel Roderick Utah Assistant/1998

Jennie Christensen BYU Assistant/2001

Celtic Storm Assistant

Athelia Graham BYU Manager/2001

Celtic Storm Assistant

Kylee Dickson BYU Manager /2000

Amber Anderson Johnson Brighton HS Head Coach/2001

Jennifer Rawlings Orem HS Head Coach/1999

Celtic Storm Head Coach

Mickelle Roth Springville HS Head Coach/1994

Sara Reading Spanish Fork HS Head Coach/2000

Natalyn Lewis Timpanogos HS Head Coach/2000

Celtic Storm Assistant

Michelle Petersen Timpanogos HS Assistant/2000

Celtic Storm Head Coach

Dana Wood Skyles Coaching in Arizona /1997

Robyn Bretzing Celtic Storm Club Director/1993

Jeni Viernes Celtic Storm Head Coach/2002

Tiffany Reikurt Timpanogos HS Assistant/2000

Janet Jensen Impact Head Coach/2000

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