Early in the evening on July 15, Edgewood Middle School’s football field was buzzing with kids getting their kicks at the Moriarty Pintos summer soccer camp.

One of the participants, Kamryn Dick, was not only learning about soccer, she also was celebrating her birthday.

“Kamryn is six today,” her mother, Tera Dick, said.

The camp, put on by the high school’s boys soccer team, got underway on July 8 and has been going on every Thursday starting at 5 p.m.

Moriarty boys soccer head coach Jordan Allcorn said the soccer camp is actually “more of a skills lesson.”

Allcorn said the weekly skills lessons, which have averaged about 20-30 participants, are more informal than a traditional soccer camp and include a wide variety of skill levels and age levels.

Allcorn has organized an annual summer soccer camp for several years but had to cancel last year’s event due to Covid-19.

This year, Allcorn made the soccer skills lessons weekly for four weeks, and like some other Moriarty sports camps that have returned this summer, they are free.

“Free’s the right price I guess,” Allcorn said.

During the July 15 skills lesson, the kids were separated into groups by age—a few of them were 5 years old or younger. The groups worked through various “stations” where they focused on specific drills while Allcorn and his varsity and JV players provided instructions.

At one station, the younger kids took turns kicking a soccer ball a few feet toward another soccer ball that was sitting atop a small cone.

Another station had the kids dribbling—working the ball around several cones set up in a row.

“In basketball you dribble with your hands, but in soccer, basically you use the inside of your foot,” Sean Sanchez said.

Sanchez, a rising fourth-grader at Estancia Valley Classical Academy who has played soccer before, is participating in the skills lessons with his younger sister Mia, 6, who is knew to the sport.

“I have a lot of fun,” Mia said about the skills lessons. “I’m learning how to kick.”

“The kids love it, it keeps them active, they’re having fun,” their mother Jacquelyn Sanchez said, adding that Sean “wasn’t really wanting to play and then we did the camp and he was like, ‘OK, I think I wanna play again,’ so it’s renewed his interest.”

Five-year-old Jahnaiyah Graham is participating in the weekly skills lessons and her older brother, Jahkeem, is one of the Moriarty players helping out.

During the July 15 skills lesson, their parents, Stanley and Ann Graham, kicked back in lawn chairs, watching from the north end of the field.

Mia Sanchez, with the help of Moriarty soccer player Isaac Dominguez, works the ball around a cone. Photos by Ger Demarest.

“As soon as it’s over she says, ‘When is the next one? Is it tomorrow?’ and we say, ‘No, you’ve gotta wait a whole week,’ so she’s very excited to do this,” Stanley Graham said about Jahnaiyah. “The weather’s beautiful, the kids are happy, you can’t really ask for much more.”

Allcorn said the overall purpose behind doing the weekly skills lessons is to give kids something positive to do.

“I think it’s really important to just get kids active,” Allcorn said. He added that the skills lessons are also a way to market Moriarty’s soccer program to the youth in the community, “So when they’re growing up, they’ll wanna be a Pinto.”

Kamryn Dick said her favorite thing about coming to the skills lessons is “shooting the ball into the hoops.” After a correction from her older brother, she said, “Um, I mean the net—yeah, the net!”

Tera Dick also brought two of her boys, Ian and Austin, to the July 15 skills lesson, in addition to Kamryn.

“I love it,” Tera Dick said about the weekly lessons. “I think it’s good for the kids to get out in the summer but also it’s so great for them to see the older boys, to have the older boys help run it, and it’s good for the older boys to help them recognize how to teach their skills to somebody else.”

“It was so fun,” Kamryn Dick said after the July 15 lesson. “Now we’re going to go home and eat cake!”

It was her birthday, after all. The last Pintos soccer skills lesson is July 29.