ROCKINGHAM — Across arguably the most immaculate high school soccer pitch in the region, there’s a new attitude in the air at Richmond Senior High School. It’s focus is to develop players, while also interacting with the community in which surrounds it. This new mantra resonates loudly, and in the simplest terms, can be identified as “Raiders Mentality.”
This week, the Richmond soccer program hosted its 17th annual summer soccer camp for local players at the school’s facilities. Roughly 100 soccer-goers, both boys and girls, between the ages of six and 18, joined head coach Bennie Howard and his staff to work on and improve at a plethora of fundamental and technical skills.
The four-day camp was aimed at welcoming and encouraging new players to the sport, while also giving top-tier quality instruction to high school and middle school players. Campers participated in a variety of on-field drills that taught them the correct ways to pass, trap, finish, and cross a soccer ball, maneuver and communicate on the field, while also emphasizing proper shooting techniques.
“There are a lot of these kids who have come numerous years,” Howard said. “They’re coming and learning and improving their skills. And that’s what it’s all about. I want them to have fun.”
Rising ninth grader, and Raider hopeful Cale Luckey of Ellerbe, is one of many campers who returns year after year to fine-tune his soccer skills. He believes that this camp gives him a better chance at making the team this fall.
“This camp gets us ready for soccer season,” Luckey said. “And when we try out, these are some of the drills we’re going to have to get used to. We need to get used to (fellow) players we’ll be playing with.”
Howard, who is entering his 30th season at the helm of the Raiders soccer program, sees this camp as a way to not only develop better players, or a more competitive team, but also as a way to let the community know the Raiders are invested in the long term.
In conjunction with funds raised through the soccer camp, additional funds from the newly erected sponsor board will be used to build an adjacent practice facility this winter. Complete with irrigation and top-notch amenities, the new facility will be used to further the development of Richmond County’s soccer players and help grow the area’s interest in the sport.
It is Howard’s hope that the community continues to support all that the soccer program is doing in order to build stronger ties with the county, while also growing Raiders soccer and putting players on the map.
“To put a good product on the field, that’s what we want,” said Howard. “We want to put on a good product, and play soccer the way it’s supposed to be played. We have something special here. And I’m proud to be a Raider.”
There’s something sweet about this new “Raiders Mentality”, and it appears that only good things await on the horizon.