Goalkeeper Hudson Hurlburt has a blast at the UK Elite 2018 Training Program at the Snoqualmie Community Park fields on July 13. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

Goalkeeper Hudson Hurlburt has a blast at the UK Elite 2018 Training Program at the Snoqualmie Community Park fields on July 13. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

‘The soccer pitch is like my second home’

Snoqualmie-area players lace up their cleats for UK Elite program

As his turquoise-colored hair gently waved in the breeze, Logan Turple was in a pensive mood. It’s as if thoughts were bouncing around in his head like a soccer ball — and then he grabbed hold of the best one.

“The soccer pitch is like my second home. I just get a good feeling whenever I’m on the soccer pitch and I love the game,” said the 15-year-old while taking a break from the UK Elite 2018 Training Program on July 13 at the Community Park fields near the Snoqualmie YMCA.

Turple improved on his crossing and dribbling skills during the weeklong session from July 9-13. He’s become a stronger player and knows that soccer isn’t easy, noting that the coaches at camp reinforced teamwork, communication and focus in his game plan.

UK Elite has set up shop in Snoqualmie for more than a decade and runs its programs for the Snoqualmie Valley Youth Soccer Association. Last week’s goal-scoring and goalkeeper clinic was geared toward 30 players aged 7-16.

Han Park, who is one of the camp coordinators and assistant regional manager for Washington’s UK Elite operations, had a gleam in his eyes as he glanced around the field at the players honing their skills.

“Obviously, it’s very fun, because everyone loves scoring goals,” said Park, adding that UK Elite has been in existence for 25 years.

The camp featured experienced coaches from Scotland and England — one of whom was born in Poland — and they kept the players on their toes.

“We put them (coaches) through a rigorous training program for a weeks-long orientation here in Snoqualmie as well,” said Park, who lives on the East Coast and works with UK Elite in Washington during the summer.

Park said the kids enjoyed the camp and he feels the stellar grass field with stunning mountain views is ideal for playing soccer. UK Elite and the city of Snoqualmie have a great working relationship, he added.

“The reception’s been great. In fact, we had one mom come to drop off her son this morning, and her only comment to us as she was walking away was, ‘He’s really bummed it’s the last day.’ So those are always good little comments to hear,” Park said.

Iris Vega Frias, 10, began playing soccer at age 4 and has always appreciated the game.

“After my regular practices, my dad usually kept me longer to practice goal scoring, but I also wanted to be a goalie,” she said, noting that she learned different goalkeeper techniques at the UK Elite camp such as the “W” catch with both hands and the scoop.

Vega Frias added that netminders need to guide the defenders in front of them.

“You have to always talk when you’re a goalie, so you’re kind of like the quarterback of the field,” she said.

With his Scottish accent booming across the field, coach Marc Russell got his players dribbling and shooting up a storm. Russell said his job is to teach the campers the correct techniques so they can advance their games and perhaps play at higher levels throughout their careers.

“There’s absolutely wonderful talent out here, and more importantly I think they’re all just nice kids,” Russell said.

Lauren Smith prepares to kick the ball up field. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

Lauren Smith prepares to kick the ball up field. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

Campers practice their goalkeeping skills. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

Campers practice their goalkeeping skills. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

Cooper Reed controls the ball at camp. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

Cooper Reed controls the ball at camp. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

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