D2 soccer camp has another strong year

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

ALABASTER – For six straight years, Dan DeMasters built his Dynamic Development soccer camp into one of the most sought after experiences in the Birmingham-metro area, but year seven looked to be in doubt due to COVID-19.

“COVID was happening, but when school ended in May, I thought it was going to wear off and we would have (the camp) in June,” the Thompson girls’ varsity soccer coach said. “Then, it went into June and more restrictions were put in place. That’s when me and my wife sat down and said I don’t think we can do this. We really wrote it off.”

But after working with the administration in the Alabaster City School system, including superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers among others, they were able to put another plan in place by rescheduling the camp for July 20-24.

“Everybody was supportive of that so we changed the date and asked people to register again,” DeMasters said. “We were just hoping we could do it at that point.”

The Alabaster City Schools Director of Soccer grew even more concerned the week before when Gov. Kay Ivey announced her mandated mask ordinance, but got a break when outdoor sports activities were allowed to continue with the appropriate precautions.

So came the week of July 20, and the camp went on with the necessary precautions, and in just his second year running the camp at Thompson High School after making the move from Oak Mountain, 100 campers were in attendance.

That was up from 70 during last year’s camp held in Alabaster. At Oak Mountain, where the camp was held for the first five years, DeMasters built a brand, and that brand has quickly followed to Alabaster.

“I’ve seen a lot of quick growth here at Thompson. Just the support of everybody from Dr. Vickers and everybody with ACS. They’re helping market it and send it out to the community,” DeMasters said. “I didn’t know if it would carry over to Alabaster or not. To get 100 here in the second year in a new community, it feels good that people have heard of the camp and the brand is almost selling itself. It makes me happy man. I love that parents want to have their kids come through us.”

DeMasters described it as a nostalgic feeling because he used to go to camps up north run by another coach and now he’s running them. “It’s come full circle,” he said.

When he first arrived in Alabaster in 2018, he saw the community had a lot of commitment to soccer and the resources were there, but the brand just needed to find its way there.

With the addition of the D2 camp as well as BUSA coming to Alabaster, the city’s commitment to soccer is on the rise.

“The camp is younger kids and that’s one of my big focuses. Yeah I coach the varsity girls and am in charge of all programs, but we want our kids prepared to be here before they get here,” he said. “So to give them the opportunity to start that at a young age is key. I think we’ll see long term success because of that. It’s a process that will take a while, but it’s setting us in the right direction.”

During the camp, kids spend Monday through Friday running through different drills and games. Monday through Thursday, they go from 8:45 a.m. until 3 p.m. with a parents’ night on Thursday night from 6-7:30 used almost as a showcase.

There are also competitions such as World Cup games and Dutch 3v3, while a camper of the day is named at the end of each day.

Every year, the camp features some of the best coaches and former athletes from around the area, and this year’s camp featured four former Gatorade Players of the Year participating as a coach.

“The support of everybody is what makes this camp,” DeMasters said. “I owe a lot of this to everybody who helps make it so special from the administrators to the parents who trust us with their kids.”