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FAMILY: Ventura County | FOR THE KIDS

Fun Afoot

Soccer coach will focus on participation over winning in his summer program.


Steve Hoffman, head coach of the women's soccer team at Ventura College, believes the most important aspect of the game is participation--and the earlier a boy or girl begins playing soccer, the better.

This summer at the campus, he's coaching soccer camps for kids 5 to 13--with half-day, full-day and evening sessions continuing through Aug. 14.

"The American system is based on winning, rather than participating. You don't hear the word 'fun' used here," says the British-born Hoffman. "But I want what kids do [on the field] to be fun."

Winning is important, too, he admits--and he's no stranger to victory, having coached the college's Lady Pirates to the Western State Conference Championship the last two years.

But in his coaching career, which spans a decade in the area (at Cal Lutheran and Agoura High as well), he's emphasized the idea of just getting into the game.

He certainly loves the sport, having played semi-pro soccer in the United Kingdom before immigrating to America in 1983 to coach. His son, Joey Hoffman, also caught soccer fever and coaches locally.

"It's a game kids can play," says Steve Hoffman, but he hardly takes a dilettante approach. He holds a Class A coaching license from the U.S. Soccer Federation and is a regional staff coach for the U.S. Olympic Development Program. "I also want the kids to go home with a set of new skills," he adds.

His weeklong camp sessions start with a skills test for each child.

"We will work with each kid individually," Hoffman says. "The younger ones have varying levels of eye-hand coordination.

Kicking can be immensely hard, and hopefully the kids will have improved that by week's end."

The other soccer fundamentals kids will learn are passing, dribbling, heading, receiving, shooting, ball control and goal-keeping.

Players will be grouped according to their age and ability--and each group will be coached by a specialist member of Hoffman's coaching team throughout the program.

These coaches all have college experience either as coaches or lead players.

Several, including Trisha Butterbaugh and Joey Hoffman, are head coaches of a local high school soccer team--Buena and Villanova, respectively.

One reason for the high level of training available for this program, Hoffman says, is that it enjoys the financial support of a local business, Mike Wallace Nissan.

At the end of each weekly session, whether it's half-day, full-day or evening, kids will go home with a "certificate of completion" and a printed "player evaluation" signed by each coach.

The skills evaluated will be dribbling, heading, passing, receiving, shooting and, last but not least, attitude.


"Steve Hoffman's Soccer Camp," training for boys and girls ages 5-13. Weeklong day sessions continue Monday through Aug. 14, with evening programs from 5:30-7 p.m. Monday through July 10, July 13-17 and Aug. 10-14. The camp takes place at Ventura College soccer field, 4667 Telegraph Road at corner of West Canyon Road. Fees are $40 for evening sessions, $70 half-day and $145 full-day; (805) 654-6459.

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