Macaya Soccer Camp turns 10 this summer

Coach’s brainchild becomes more than just a senior project

Dan Macaya still has soccer on the brain, 10 years after running his first camp as part of a Camas High School senior project in 2003.

With enough shirts saved to stitch a quilt, Dan Macaya looks forward to next decade of soccer camps in Camas.

What started out as just a high school senior project has turned into a career for Macaya and his friends. His camp coaches are professional soccer players, college soccer players, local high school graduates and youth soccer coaches.

“The [senior] project was titled, ‘the positive effect of role models on children,’” Macaya said. “I’ve always liked to work with kids either on the soccer field or in the classroom. A soccer camp seemed so natural.”

Macaya conducted a two-day camp for a Camas-Washougal Soccer Club team in that first year. He came back home from Western Washington University the next summer and did another camp for about 20 kids. By the third year, Macaya starting donating money from the camps back to the Camas School District.

Every year, the camps would get bigger and bigger. Macaya invited his teammates from Western Washington and Concordia to help out, and then local high school graduates. He hit the jackpot when Hudon’s Bay High School graduate Tina (Frimpong) Ellertson came on board. She was playing for the University of Washington and training for the U.S. National team.

“We went from about 20 kids to start with to about 140 at Prune Hill two years ago,” Macaya said. “I always wanted to do something that gave back to the community. This has come full circle. We have kids learning new techniques, and we have people from this area who excel in soccer and they want to come back and help. I think that ties into the original idea of the project of role modelling.”

There will be two Macaya Soccer camps this summer to celebrate the 10th anniversary. The list of coaches includes CHS graduates Emily Ainsworth, Sami Andrews, Diane Dyra, Olivia Lovell and Brent Richards.

Andrews graduated from Concordia University after four years of soccer. Ainsworth played soccer at Central Washington University. Lovell is playing soccer at Oregon State University. Dyra just graduated from CHS, and will continue her career at Concordia. Ellertson and Richards bring professional credentials. Ellertson reached the Women’s World Cup in 2007. Richards is playing for the Portland Timbers.

Ross Blanchard and Macaya became good friends on the soccer field together in college. Blanchard came to one of the first Macaya camps, and he hasn’t missed one since.

“I love to see the kids wearing the shirts and the way the whole community rallies around it,” Blanchard said. “It’s become an incredible learning environment. The kids don’t want to leave, but we have to go to work or we have other practices to go to.”

Colin Partee, who is going to be a senior at Union High School, volunteered to help out at the camp last year. He can’t wait to get back out there with the kids.

“I love soccer. Any chance I can be around the game, I take it,” Partee said. “Relative to the size of the community, soccer is incredible in Camas. I hope a camp like this can keep that enthusiasm growing, and that it increases these kids’ love for the game.”

This will be Ainworth’s first time helping out at the camp, but not her last.

“These are the kids who come to our games and cheer us on,” she said. “This is our chance to show these kids what we do, and to let them know that they can do it too.”

Macaya said his brainchild has taken on a life of it’s own. He can’t wait to see what the next 10 years bring.

“As long as there’s soccer in Camas, I think the camp can keep going,” Macaya said. “Everybody believes in this camp around here. I hope it continues to grow and that we get more coaches to help the kids out.”