- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
“What’s your favorite food?”
“How much water do you drink?”
“How long have you been playing soccer?
“Are you married?”
The last question, one of many, brought out the biggest smile and laugh from D.C. United and Major League Soccer player Ethan White on Tuesday afternoon.
During a visit to the D.C. United youth soccer camp for children 5 to 17 hosted at Chancellor’s Run Regional Park in Great Mills, White answered questions from a group of afternoon camp-goers before eventually signing autographs for the players.
“Growing up, I looked up to the guys that played for D.C. United and other professionals,” White said. “Being a professional, it’s really important to inspire the young guys to keep playing.”
The camp, which began on Monday and runs through today, is under the direction of site director Micah Cooks, also a U-14 coach for the D.C. United Academy team. Cooks and his staff aim to help children develop skills also taught to some of the best players in the country.
“This is where it begins,” Cooks said. “Ethan started just like this. I am sure he went to some camps. He probably didn’t have [as many] pro clubs when he was growing up, he is a little bit younger than I am, and I’m sure I didn’t have the pro clubs, but you emulate these players. You want to play soccer.”
The camp was especially important to Aaron Humphreys, a rising freshman at Leonardtown High School. Humphreys’ participation in the weeklong camp will aid him well as he eyes an important, upcoming date.
“I love playing soccer and I have tryouts for Leonardtown on Saturday,” Humphreys said, referring to the first day for high school fall sports tryouts. “Leonardtown is one of the harder teams to make and they decided not to have conditioning this week. So, I wanted somewhere to condition.”
“Granted we do have fun and play games and things like that,” Cooks said of the camp, “but we want them learning something and taking something different back to their local club teams.”
White spoke to the camp before taking questions and one aspect of his duration at the camp stood out to Humphreys and other campers.
“To eat healthy,” Humphreys said of what he took from White.
“To eat healthy,” camper Mike Levay added, “that was the major thing.”
Levay is a rising sophomore at Great Mills High School and, like Humphreys, is signed up for the morning and afternoon sessions of the camp.
“I really like D.C. United and I like seeing the players,” Levay said. “I also love soccer, so any opportunity I get to play soccer, I play soccer. … I want to get conditioned and improve my skills because I am going to play [with] Great Mills.”
On having a professional soccer player there, Levay added, “It was like the pepper on the potato.”
Twelve-year-old Ryan Riley of Great Mills was also at the camp and has been playing soccer since the age of 4, he said.
Having White speak to the crowd meant a lot to him, in particular one aspect of White that Riley could relate to.
“That he started playing at 2 years old,” Riley said of the most impressive message. “I thought that was pretty cool.”
White, a rookie with D.C. United, said that he tries to get one message to younger children when speaking to them.
“Just to keep working hard and remain focused,” White said. “Whether it’s soccer or a sport or whatever it is that you want to do, just stay focused on your goal.”
With 35-plus campers in Tuesday’s afternoon session alone, Cooks and White believe the sport of soccer, with help from the past two World Cup tournaments, is growing across the nation.
“I definitely think it is growing,” White said. “It’s the fastest-growing sport in the nation, last time I heard. So, with the publicity of the World Cup and trying to get it here and all of that, we are growing rapidly.”
And after the camp ends today, players will take what they have learned from White, Cooks and his coaching staff and attempt to apply it to their school and club teams.
“It was awesome,” Riley said of having a pro player at camp. “I didn’t think that would happen, but it was cool.”