A couple of years ago, 12-year-old center back Isa Magee had no idea what the Cal South PRO+ ODP Camps were all about until a friend of hers brought it to her attention. Her friend’s dad had done his homework as to what the Summer Day Camps were all about, an elite program, approved by U.S Soccer, designed to build on and improve the technical and tactical skills that players already possess through their years in soccer. With the motivation from her friend, Magee and her parents decided to sign up as well.
Magee attended her first Day Camp and was soon encouraged to step outside her comfort zone, work on technical and tactical exercises, speed of play, and ball movement with and without the ball. After five days of camp, Magee walked out of the camp with more skills that she can put to play with her FC Valencia team.
“I loved the work ethic that the coaches teach you, and how many pointers they give,” Magee said. “My evaluation was very specific on what I needed to work on, so it made me understand how I could become a better player, because there’s always something we need to work on. I liked that and how they play soccer a little differently than club coaches, and that made me want to go back.”
Magee and her parents decided to return to the PRO+ ODP Camps, this time trying out the Finishing Academy, a residential camp that focuses on the player’s ability to score, as well as prepare players for any situation.
“[The coaches] don’t put you under pressure as much, but they help you learn to move the ball around, take a better first touch, and it’s just fun the way they teach,” Magee said. At first, I just used to panic and kick the ball out, and now I’m able to control the ball, play it out, back up, play the ball again into different spots.
Through these camps, Magee was spotted by one of the Cal South PRO+ ODP Scouts and invited to join the Girls 2006 Team that would go on to compete for a US Youth Soccer ODP West Championship. Magee was a vital part of the team, lead by Cal South’s Director of Coaching Education Steve Hoffman, that finished with the tournament undefeated with 25 goals in favor and one against.
“Every player has a story on how they go to the championships, however the one that impressed me the most was Isa Magee,” Coach Hoffman said. “Isa registered in the Summer ODP Camp in Ojai where our staff recommended we bring her into our winter pool, and the rest is a testament to Isa’s ability. She not only survived the Winter training sessions, but held down a starting position on the 2006 Cal South State Team, which goes to show you never know who is watching you, and when you get the chance, take it just like Isa.”
Magee has learned a lot through the camps and coaches, both on and off the field. But among the most important things Magee will take with her are the friendships built throughout the program.
“A lot of friendships were formed through ODP,” Magee said. “Just the back line, I just feel so good around them; we motivate each other. Some of the center midfielders, I enjoy motivating and talking with them, and just being able to hang out together, and do things together is really cool.”