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HHS soccer team plans Soccer Olympics

This Saturday, Aug. 27, the boys on the Hastings High School varsity and junior varsity soccer teams will step out of their usual roles as students and become coaches.

The team is working with HFC United to host a Soccer Olympics for youth enrolled in the HFC program. And for this event, Hastings High School varsity soccer coach Shane Lanning is taking a back seat.

"I'm actually going to let the boys do the teaching, do the coaching," he said.

The idea rose out of the team's own expectations for their season.

"It's one of those things where we came together as a team and said, 'what are our goals,'" Lanning said. "Only about a third are on-the-field goals."

The team members decided they wanted to become ambassadors of their sport. Soccer Olympics is one way they're going to achieve that goal. In October the boys will be doing some coaching with the middle school team for a day or two, and will also teach a few P.E. classes at one of the elementary schools. For each event, the varsity players will be wearing their Raider uniforms.

Each event not only lets the boys stand as role models for Hastings youth, it also helps the varsity players see themselves stepping into a coaching position after they graduate.

"My underlying goal is, I'm trying to develop coaches," Lanning said.

Of course there's more to it than that. During HFC's spring season, the organization is able to bring in professional trainers to work with youth athletes. But players in the fall program don't really have any outside trainers to supplement their practices, Lanning said. With Soccer Olympics, the fall athletes get to work under the direction of their local high school soccer stars.

"So kids are getting a little more out of their recreational soccer fees," Lanning said.

The event breaks youth athletes into three sessions according to age. Third-, fourth- and fifth-grade girls will work from 8:30 a.m. to about 9:30 a.m. First- and second-grade boys and girls will work from about 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. The youngest group, pre-kindergarten and kindergartners will run from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Each session will have four stations to work through. Lanning said he and the team were still working on what all those would be earlier this week, but three of them are likely to be juggling, passing balls through hoops and running a ball through an obstacle course. Each station will help the youth develop basic soccer skills in a fun and slightly competitive environment.

Breaking the kids into groups also allows the varsity team to offer more direct attention to each HFC player. Lanning said he expects a 2-1 or 3-1 student-to-coach ratio. Each student will have a scorecard to keep track of their performance at each station, and the top players in each skill will take home a medal.

"We're going to be giving away 50 to 60 medals," Lanning said.

Every participant will leave with a participation award - a photo of the varsity team that they can have the players sign, as well as tickets to the team's upcoming pancake breakfast.

Registration was done through HFC United, but anyone is welcome to watch Saturday's Soccer Olympics, planned at Veteran's Park. It's a great opportunity to get photos, especially for parents, Lanning said.