Smoky Mountains Soccer Academy

Last spring, Smoky Mountains Soccer Academy started operating in Gatlinburg, at the multi-million dollar facility known as Rocky Top Sports World. It costs $100 per child for ten weeks. The practice is one hour on a weekday. They have no games over the weekend.

Smoky Mountain Soccer Academy - players and coaches

Smoky Mountain Soccer Academy – my son’s group of players and coaches

The main coach is a teacher and a soccer coach in the public school system and he said, “I believe weekends are for the family. Plus, I need my weekends off. I’m a teacher.” I could not agree with him more.

This is actually an answer to prayer because my husband wanted the kids enrolled in a team sport and it was virtually impossible to find anything that did not involve weekend hours. We also like to keep weekends for the family and not for sporting activities per se.

Personally, I think children can develop very well even without a team sport. This is not about preparing them for a career. This is more about fun and physical education.

But I have seen a lot of character growth in my children from being involved in soccer. As always, my husband has good instincts. This reminds me of one of the early dates he and I had. When he was telling me how he dealt with a delicate business situation, I remarked that he was probably the most humble and amazing leader I have ever met.

Soccer coach and young players

Coach Zach Schrandt and my daughter’s age group

So I asked him, “How did you get to have such an amazing character?” He replied simply, “Football.” I teared up right then and there, in the middle of a restaurant. My then boyfriend started looking around, hoping that people will not think he said something horrible which made me cry. So I burst out laughing, because he was just so worried about me first of all and then about himself.

Of all the crazy things people say about football, this rough, manly, tackle-them-down, tough sport, I had never heard this one. My husband is a gentle, gentle soul. And he learned his gentleness in football? What am I missing? That is why I was crying. I had been taught by conservative Christians that football and any other competitive sport is against the gospel message. That we should shun such activities like the plague. And here was proof positive that football, like anything, is what you make of it. Such a breath of fresh air!

Since then, we have decided that soccer at Smoky Mountain Soccer Academy should be part of our homeschool for several reasons:

  1. It is closer to home than driving to Berean Christian School for their soccer practice on Wednesdays.
  2. Adidas sponsors the program. It may be small now, but is has potential for growth.
  3. The coaches are all certified by different national organizations.
  4. It is good exercise for the kids.
  5. They get to interact with other children.
  6. They receive guidance from somebody other than mom and dad.
  7. They spend time in fresh air and sunshine.
  8. They play games. Especially my daughter’s group, the youngest players, they pretend they are sharks or elephants or whatever and they run after the ball a certain way, they control the ball so the other sharks don’t get it etc. It’s a lot of fun for the kids. I could not provide this kind of fun in my backyard. I just don’t have the energy to learn about this and implement it.
  9. They learn soccer skills. You see, they don’t just give them a ball and say, “Now go play soccer.” The coach to children ratio is very low, 1:4-1:8. They learn to dribble and control the ball through very closely observed exercises.
  10. Soccer scouts come by regularly. A soccer scholarship does not interest me as much as a National Merit Scholarship, I will be honest with you. But you never know what children like to do when they finally grow up.

Since spring, we have done a Soccer Camp at SMSA and now we just enrolled them for the fall. It has worked out beautifully with our schedule. Things have a way of working out.


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