The ‘Soccer Pride’ camp taking place this week at Conard High School has continued a tradition started by former coach Kerrie Massaro, who died in November 2021.
By Ronni Newton
The girls “Soccer Pride” camp launched by a former Conard High School coach and physical education teacher returned in 2022, maintaining the tradition of a program began at least 15 years ago by Kerrie Massaro, who died of breast cancer in November 2021.
Two current coaches, Liz Tracy and Nick Moffo, called me in the fall and expressed an interest in keeping the tradition going to honor Kerrie’s legacy,” Leisure Services Manager Marc Blanchard said.
Massaro was a girls soccer coach at Conard for 16 years, the last six of those as head varsity coach.
Tracy was named head coach in 2021, and Moffo, who was head coach of the Conard girls varsity team for many years before turning over the program to Massaro, was recruited out of retirement to be an assistant. Tracy, who graduated from Conard in 1997, was an All-State soccer player for Moffo when she was a student.
Tracy said enrollment for this year’s camp was about the best ever, with roughly 40 girls ages 6 to 13 signed up to participate in Soccer Pride for the week of Aug. 8-12. In addition to Moffo, Conard captains and alumni are serving as counselors.
“Pride” has been given extra meaning this year with each letter of the word turned into a phrase of the day for the five-day camp:
- “P” is for positive mental attitude.
- “R” is for respect for ourselves and teammates
- “I” is for intelligent choices
- “D” is for dreams and goals
- “E” is for effort and education
“We talk about that every day,” Tracy said.
The girls soccer camp is designed for all levels of players – those who are new to the sport as well as experienced travel team veterans. They work on technical skills like dribbling, shooting, passing, and juggling, as well as tactical skills. The girls are divided into four age groups, and scrimmage at the end of each day.
“Each day we work on a special skill,” Tracy said. For safety reasons, the U.S. Soccer Federation does not allow players to head a soccer ball until they are in seventh grade, and Tracy said some reach high school without having learned proper heading technique.
Using a very soft playground ball, she and the other counselors have been teaching the campers how to safely head a ball by breaking it down into small steps that they work on each day.
Monday and Tuesday were extremely hot and humid, but Tracy said they took frequent water breaks, and spent as much time as possible in a shaded area in one corner of the Conard track.
“I think everybody’s having a great time,” said Blanchard, who stopped by the camp on Wednesday.
“This is a great thing for Kerrie’s legacy,” Moffo said. “She had an amazing impact on soccer.”
The Conard girls soccer team will hold the “Coach Massaro Memorial Pink Out” on Oct. 14, 2022 when they face Rocky Hill at home. The game begins at 6 p.m., and the team will wear special pink jerseys and will be raising awareness about breast cancers as well as funds to support the Coach Massaro Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship fund, launched through a GoFundMe campaign following Massaro’s death, will annually award “a Senior Conard High School Girls Soccer Player who embodies the characteristics Kerrie modeled as a former athlete, teacher, and coach: Courage, kindness and determination.”
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