Soccer Team Assists Players from Lee, Estill Counties; Sport Now Offered in Lee Schools

photo from clinic

Head coach Lindsay Basalyga and members of the Eastern Kentucky University women’s soccer team participated in a soccer clinic at Lee County High School recently as part of the university’s regional stewardship program.

“I think the experience was great for everyone involved,” Basalyga said. “All of the younger kids were hugging our college players at the end of the clinic, and we could tell that they were extremely grateful that we made the trip to Lee County to train them.”

Glenna Cummins, the Lee County District Athletic Director, echoed Basalyga’s sentiments.

“It was an awesome experience for our students to learn how to play soccer,” Cummins said. “The EKU group was great at working with the students and showing them the basics. Lee County Schools appreciates and thanks the EKU soccer team and Lindsay for giving our students this opportunity to learn and have fun.”

UPDATE: The Lee County Board of Education recently approved soccer as a school sport.

During the first hour of the clinic, Basalyga, along with assistant coaches Chris Swift and Adam Kleman and players Tess Akgunduz, Nicole Donnelly, Lauren Fant, Brittany Nomady and Hayley Wright, taught elementary-age kids the technical components of the game (dribbling, passing, receiving) and then held two scrimmages in which each team had an EKU player on the field with them at all time.

“We could tell the younger players had never really played soccer before and were uncomfortable with the ball at their feet,” Basalyga said. “By the end, though, they were all laughing and enjoying the activities that we were running them though. It was very gratifying.”

The EKU contingent then focused more on soccer technique with high school-age players, which included students from both Lee County High School and neighboring Estill County High School. During that session, participants ran through 1 vs. 1 and 2 vs. 2 drills before concluding with an 8 vs. 8 scrimmage.

Donnelly, a 2010 first team All-Ohio Valley Conference forward, left with the impression that she and her teammates helped make soccer a bit more popular in Lee County.

“I think the clinic made a huge impact because at the end of the day we asked the kids who all would now want to play soccer and a lot of them raised their hands with so much excitement,” Donnelly said. “It was an honor for me to spread our love of the game.”

Lee County High School does not have a large enough enrollment to field a football team in the fall, but soccer teams could be a reality in the near future, Cummins said.

Mark Reese, the EKU Extension Agent who helped coordinate the clinic, noted that it was important for the Lee County community to have a fall sport to rally around, and he hoped that the clinic would help them build towards getting a full-fledged soccer program.

Reese also said that the clinic emphasized EKU’s presence and commitment in the region and “promoted the idea that college is important.”

“We reminded each age group of the importance of education and being a part of a team sport,” Basalyga added. “I think it helped that all the players, elementary through high school, could interact with college students and athletes to see that a college education can actually be a reality for them as well. As a staff, we really enjoyed sharing our love and passion for the game in an area of Kentucky that hasn’t seen much soccer other than on TV.  As a program, if we can be a small part in helping soccer grow in Lee County, than we have done our job!

Published on August 01, 2012