Maybe Mother Nature was sending a message to the Vancouver Whitecaps in Prince George on the weekend.
The first-division soccer squad plans to hold the outdoor camp annually in Prince George, but isn’t certain when the next camp will be held. Hopefully, Sam Lenarduzzi and his coaching crew are able to set the last weekend in May as the date. It would save them a lot of trouble.
Organizers of the camp had to reschedule the camp twice, with weather and timing playing major roles. Conditions on Sunday were as good as the players could ask for. Warm, but not hot. Other than a chilly breeze on Saturday, Mother Nature cooperated both days.
The only thing organizers weren’t ecstatic about on the weekend was the participant count, as only 65 players registered for the event. In the past, the camp has attracted anywhere from 140 to 200 athletes.
The registration figure of this year’s camp would definitely rise with a set weekend, as the participants and their parents would have the advance notice necessary to schedule their lives around the camp. They didn’t have that option for this camp, as it was previously slated for May 2 and 3. That weekend was the second to fall through for the Whitecaps, as they had initially set aside Sept. 27 and 28 of last year for the event.
A low registration count for the September weekend prompted organizers to reschedule the camp until the first weekend of May. A slow snow melt in the region left the Rotary Fields in an undesirable condition early this month. When organizers knew the pitches wouldn’t be ready in time, they pushed the date back four weekends.
Late starts to spring aren’t unusual in Prince George. Organizers of the Whitecaps camp may prefer a camp be held in early May since it would coincide with the start-up of the Prince George Youth Soccer Association season. But if they want the camp to reach its full potential, the end of May is the best time.
Mother Nature works in mysterious ways, and warm weather in early May is never a guarantee. The same can be said about late May, however there’s a greater chance of warmer weather later in the spring. And when it comes to scheduling outdoor sports events in Prince George, it’s not necessary to test Mother Nature too much.
The rescheduling of the camp can’t be put entirely to blame for the lower participant count. It’s a line that runs parallel with soccer in Prince George this year. Fewer players have registered in PGYSA in 2009. However, organizers can further justify having an advance date for late May when they consider the fact that there wasn’t an older age group for select players this year. The reason? They were away competing in tournaments in southern B.C. If they knew months in advance of the camp, coaches and players would be able to make other arrangements.
As far as scheduling a Whitecaps camp for late September, it’s a move that shouldn’t be tested again. Young athletes are encouraged to play in more than one organized sport, and the vast majority of them do. By late September, fall sports are set to begin, or have started already. Had the camp taken place in September, it wouldn’t have been as beneficial as a May camp, since many of the skills players are taught wouldn’t have been put to good use. Late September marks the end of the PGYSA outdoor season, with only indoor players and those involved in the Pro Touch Academy running soccer drills over the winter months.
The Whitecaps don’t intend to test the waters of a summer camp, and they really aren’t in a position to. Too many individuals involved with the franchise are occupied during those months with the team’s regular season schedule in full swing. The Whitecaps would struggle to attract players anyhow since June, July and August mark summer vacations for B.C. residents. Students are out of school in July and August, and players are out of the city at different times.
It was a relief to see coaches of last weekend’s camp treated to nice weather. After all, it appeared as though the Whitecaps did everything short of flying individuals down to Vancouver to put on a camp for Prince George athletes. They rescheduled the September camp when registration totals indicated athletes weren’t interested in the camp. They even managed to move this month’s camp by only four weeks. The dedication the club has shown in developing youth soccer players must be appreciated by Prince George soccer enthusiasts.
The Whitecaps have expressed an interest in holding next year’s camp at close to the same time. If they’re able to secure the last weekend of May again, they hope to see more participants. With enough advance notice, more players will come. It’d be the best move for them.
Last round was better for my National Hockey League playoff predictions.
However, I wasn’t quite 100 per cent accurate.
I called for a Detroit Red Wings’ five-game victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. The Red Wings eliminated the Blackhawks in five to win the Western Conference and advance to the Stanley Cup final.
Expecting that the pesky Carolina Hurricanes would continue their push for a berth in the Stanley Cup final, I called the Canes to push the Pittsburgh Penguins to a seventh game, and lose. Instead, the Pens swept Carolina with four straight victories. Clearly, the Canes ran out of gas and the Pens were a motivated bunch. For the first time in this year’s playoffs, Carolina goalie Cam Ward looked average, even letting in a softie when a floater went over his glove and into the back of the net.
Well aware the Stanley Cup finals are underway, I can honestly say I predicted Detroit to win in six when the series started. I’ve now correctly guessed nine out of 14 series winners, hoping to finish 10 for 15 on my playoff picks.