More than 230 kids attended three Macaya Soccer Camps this summer

Hearts beat as one

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Dan Macaya ushered in the 10th anniversary of his soccer camp by juggling three of them this summer.

Enthusiastic kids, feedback from parents, use of the Camas School District’s fields, donations by local sponsors and time given by fellow coaches are the lifeblood of his camp. As long as that heart beats strong, Macaya said there will always be a soccer camp to run.

“Over 230 kids attended a soccer camp this summer,” he said. “It’s really crazy when I see all of these kids running around with a soccer ball. I don’t think it could happen in any other community.

“Soccer is the mecca in Camas,” Macaya added. “We had so many great sponsors this year. Without them, we wouldn’t have the fields, the coaches or the prizes.”

Macaya reached out to Tina Ellerston, who recently signed with the Portland Thorns women’s soccer team. She provided a signed jersey by Alex Morgan. Washougal Sport and Spine donated two Portland Timbers jerseys, and Brent Richards signed them both.

Richards came out for one day to speak to the campers and sign autographs. He talked about growing up in Camas and playing in the same neighborhood parks as they do. He remembers when Camas hosted the high school boys state soccer championships. He watched Macaya and the Papermakers put their hometown on the map, and he dreamed of the day he would step foot in Doc Harris Stadium and play soccer for Camas.

“I’ve known Brent since he was a little guy. He is the epitome of hard work,” Macaya said. “He signed something that every kid brought. I thought it was huge of him to take time to do that.”

Macaya would like to run two or three soccer camps during the summer from now on. If he can find the time and a location, he might also try putting on a camp during the winter. Anything to keep the kids active, even if it has to be indoors.

“The parents tell me their kids enjoy working with the coaches and learning something new every day. That’s what I like to hear,” Macaya said. “As long as they’re on a soccer ball and improving, it’s beneficial to the local soccer club and the high school.”

Grace Weishaar wouldn’t complain. The 12-year-old from Camas has been to three Macaya camps.

“Every single time, I’ve loved it because there are great coaches. They’re really nice and I always learn a lot,” Weishaar said. “You’re pretty much working on everything so you don’t get worse at it. Even if you’re an All-Star, you’re going to get a lot of touches on the ball and that’s going to help you improve. It’s always good to practice.”

Weishaar is enjoying her 10th year of soccer. She loves playing the game, rain or shine.

“I never complain about the weather. The game is too much fun,” she said. “It also makes you smarter and you get to meet so many fun people. It’s addicting.”

Weishaar cherishes her Macaya Soccer Camp shirts.

“It’s a way to tell people I worked hard and didn’t just watch TV all summer,” she said.

She also thanked Macaya for helping her get better at the game she loves.

“Dan is very assertive. He doesn’t yell at you, but he still gets the message across,” Weishaar said. “And he rewards you with a good joke. He likes what he does. You can tell.”