MIDDLEBURG — As the world champions were honored in New York City on Wednesday, nine Very Important Players worked on their soccer skills in Snyder County.
Wednesday marked the second of three nights of the V.I.P. soccer camp for players with special needs. Ranging from 3 to 20 years old, the players are working on their skill set in advance of a fall league that will include scrimmages against other teams.
Camp organizer Tiffany Knepp said all the campers have some sort of physical limitation preventing them from playing in the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), and the three-day camp at Middleburg's Smith Fields gets them on the field.
"It's been awesome," Knepp said. "There were kids that were hesitant. In 5 to 10 minutes they were smiling and laughing. They all had a great time."
On Monday, Knepp brought in varsity soccer players from Selinsgrove to work with the V.I.P, campers. On Wednesday night, it was players from Mifflinburg teaching soccer drills. Friday night's final practice will be run by players from Midd-West.
Throughout Wednesday's two-hour session, players worked on passing back and forth, dribbling around cones, shooting and racing with Mifflinburg's soccer players.
"I love it, I love working with the kids," said Mifflinburg player Olivia Walter, whose mom is special education teacher. "I love soccer and if they want to play soccer, they should be able to. These kids are defeating all the odds.
"They're the strongest kids around."
Eight-year-old Cooper Hostetler said kicking the ball was good for his legs. "I can meet different people and have fun with the high school kids," the Beaver Springs soccer player said.
Cooper's mother, Stacey Hostetler, was glad to see her son enjoying the camp.
"It's nice to see him participating in something he usually doesn't," she said. "He's happy. He's excited to come."
Jamie Swan, of Mount Pleasant Mills, was at Wednesday's camp with her 6-year-old son Griffin. Swan said Griffin often goes to sporting events to watch his older sibling play, but he's the V.I.P. this week.
"It's a great opportunity to participate in things they don't normally get to," she said.