‘The funnest thing I’ve ever done’: Steamboat Soccer Academy hosts 600 youth

Over 600 youth soccer players signed up to partake in the 2023 Steamboat Soccer Academy from July 9-16.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The world’s most popular sport is only getting more popular in Steamboat Springs thanks to the Steamboat Soccer Academy. 

Running on an eight-day schedule from Sunday to Sunday, the academy collected 600-plus signups for its summer youth soccer camp, making it the town’s biggest soccer camp to date.

What made this camp so special was the quantity and quality of coaches who came to lead and teach the kids for the week. Coaches came from New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee and the Colorado Rapids Academy, a youth program for the Major League Soccer team. 

Coach Mauricio Ramirez made the trip to Steamboat from San Antonio and said the experience has been really good so far. He sees the way the young athletes enjoy themselves on the field and is impressed with their commitment to playing hard all day long. 

“The main thing for me is to create an environment for the players where they have fun and it is competitive,” Ramirez said. “Everything else after that is secondary, and we’ll take it, but if the environment was fun and they can make friendships, I am good with that.”

According to Ramirez, when the athletes are on break between sessions, they remain active by tubing, paddleboarding and swimming. There is never a second of downtime for these soccer players. 

“This is one of the funnest things I’ve ever done,” said 10-year-old Kai Kintner. “You can find new friends, you have a fun time with them and mainly you just get to play soccer three times per day.”

Kintner is a part-time Steamboat resident from Denver who joined the Steamboat Soccer Academy for the second summer in a row. He says the biggest draw to the camp is the competition level. Having 600 athletes involved makes things more exciting and competitive, and gives people like Kintner the opportunity to grow their soccer network. 

Sophie Ciarallo, a rising sophomore at Steamboat Springs High School, could not believe the talent level of the younger players. She thinks camps like these only make Steamboat and Colorado soccer stronger in every way. 

Ciarallo was a member of the Sailors girls soccer team this spring and utilizes these camps to stay in shape and gain some knowledge throughout the year. She had no problem competing under the hot sun all week, saying she barely even noticed it. 

“It’s more fun than anything so you kind of forget that you are running all this time in the sun,” Ciarallo said. “You ignore it and choose to play instead, which is pretty fun.”

Ciarallo played alongside other high school girls from Wyoming, Denver, Colorado Springs and more at the camp, but says the biggest impact of all came from their coach. 

“Our coach focuses on building a good community and then he teaches us how to play soccer smart instead of working on the technical stuff,” Ciarallo said. “He likes to teach us new ways to play soccer and think about it instead of just dribbling.”

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