Jahir Cenano reacts to a missed host at goal with Jesus Flores, 18, looking on at the annual Casino Road soccer camp held by the Everett Police Department in Everett on Tuesday afternoon. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Jahir Cenano reacts to a missed host at goal with Jesus Flores, 18, looking on at the annual Casino Road soccer camp held by the Everett Police Department in Everett on Tuesday afternoon. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

From camper to coach: Kamiak grad brings ‘can-do’ spirit

EVERETT — The coaches all knew Jesus Flores.

He was just a kid then, and he stayed late after soccer camp to help with the cleanup.

When the coaches needed assistance in distributing the oranges for snacks, Flores raised his hand.

“Jesus would say ‘I can do it! I can do it!’ so the people would say ‘Call him! Call him!’ ” said Jose Manuel, a longtime coach and volunteer at the Casino Road Futbol Academy.

The annual summer soccer camp is organized by the Everett Police Department. Flores, who grew up in Everett, was a camper who later became a coach. He’s 18 now and just graduated from Kamiak High School. He’s headed to college in the fall, with the goal of becoming a dental hygienist.

On Wednesday morning, Flores led a group of mostly 11-year-olds in finding their positions on the field at Walter E. Hall Park and in learning to work together to score.

“Don’t everyone go for the ball, just one person,” he told them in a huddle.

When Flores was younger, seeing his coach at camp meant “having someone, that teenager, I could look up to,” he said. He went on to play soccer in middle school and at Kamiak for two years.

“The reason I like this camp is there is no skill level (requirement),” he said. “I felt like I could just play. I didn’t feel like I had to be really good or something like that.”

He wants the kids on his team to leave the weeklong camp knowing two things: Soccer is fun, and winning and losing are just part of the experience.

His little brother Ignacio, 9, has been a camper the last few years.

As a coach, Flores started with teaching the youngest children, who could get a little emotional about the score, he said. Now he’s seeing kids who are 10, 11 and 12 starting to understand the fundamentals of the game.

“They know that not all of them have to go for the ball,” Flores said. “Here they’re learning to make a goal. They have to score. They have to pass. They have to spread out.”

Flores seems like a positive-attitude kind of coach, said Zach Garmire, 11.

If the other team scores, Flores tell his team, “we’ll get another one,” Zach said.

Some 300 kids are enrolled in camp this year. In his eight years as a volunteer, Manuel has watched the program grow and change. He remembers when Flores said he was ready to coach. Camp coordinators knew he felt responsibility.

“He always tries to do the best he can,” Manuel said.

For some, this year’s camp is bittersweet.

The camp’s founder, Everett police Sgt. Manny Garcia, retired last week. He worked as an officer in Everett for 28 years, after a law enforcement career that began in Southern California.

Garcia received his retirement plaque at camp Tuesday.

For Flores and others, Garcia’s “always been someone I look up to in the community, as a Hispanic role model,” Flores said.

The teen is planning to attend leadership camp again this summer.

He’s already got his internship lined up at a dental office in Mukilteo.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com

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