EVERETT — When he woke up Monday morning, 12-year-old Richard Rosas was nervous, excited and ready to make new friends.
He knew it was the first day of Casino Road Futbol Academy, the soccer camp hosted in south Everett every summer by the city police department. Before camp, Richard didn’t know what team he’d be on, or who his coach would be.
For kids, the soccer camp is a week of fun spent practicing new skills and making friends. Still, the grown-ups sneak in subtle lessons about being a good person, making the right choices and serving their community.
More than 500 kids are participating this week, and once again, dozens of volunteers have stepped up to make it happen, Everett police Sgt. Manny Garcia said.
Garcia, a former professional soccer player, started the camp seven years ago. The idea was hatched during a conversation over chips and salsa, and it’s just kept growing, he said.
“We attribute this to the volunteer spirit we have here,” he said.
Volunteer Carolina Rosas, 40, has helped out at camp for three or four years. She wants her sons, Richard, 12, and Steven, 10, to stay active. She rushed about Monday, making sure there was plenty of soap in the bathrooms and helping families get registered. Now that the camp is under way, registration is closed.
“It’s good to keep them busy doing something healthy,” Rosas said of her sons. “The youngest, he loves soccer, both of them do.”
Steven is going into fifth grade in the fall at St. Mary Magdalen in Everett. In camp he likes when they compete to win the other team’s flag. Over time he’s learned to pass better and longer, and kick with the sides of his feet. For him, soccer camp is the big plan for summer except for maybe when they go camping or on vacation, he said.
“We get to pass and play and we get to have fun all the time,” he said.
Richard, 12, is going into seventh grade this fall. He was working on learning to pace his running speed, a more advanced skill for his third year at soccer camp.
“Us, as kids, we love it,” he said.
Spencer Haney, 14, was volunteering all week as a coach. He plays soccer through his school in Bothell and in a private club. On Monday morning, he tended to a 9-year-old girl who’d been hit in the face by a ball. He told her that injuries happen sometimes in soccer. He told her to take her time resting, but eventually in soccer, you’ve got to get back up and get back in the game.
Soccer helped Spencer find his niche at school, he said. In the game, he forgets about everything else.
“They’re here to get better,” he said. “It’s just showing kids it’s better to play sports than hang out on the street, and there’s more to life than just your own world.”
Volunteer Pablo Mummey, 50, helped organize the coaches, many of whom give up an entire week of their summer to be there. Many of the teen volunteers were learning to coach at camp, he said. He enjoys seeing the younger campers return years later, ready to give back what they learned.
Mummey owns the Snohomish Soccer Dome and has been involved in the Casino Road camp from the beginning. He’s run and attended many soccer camps in his life, including those that focus on single skills, he said. Casino Road is a more community-oriented approach.
“Here we provide it all,” he said. “It’s not just the soccer.”
Nearby, Alyssa Quevedo, 9, of Mukilteo, was learning how to scrimmage.
“I’m looking forward to it being fun for sure,” she said. “It’s been fun so far, and I hope it stays that way.”
While other kids snacked on oranges, heeding their coaches’ advice to pick up their peels, Wyatt Rivera and Cam Lund, both 11, of Everett, took a break on the grass.
“I like that everybody is … what’s the word?” Wyatt said.
“Involved?” Cam offered.
“Yeah,” Wyatt said. “Everybody is nice.”
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; email@example.com.