From camper to coach

Kamiak grad coaches kids at Everett Po­lice sum­mer soc­cer camp

The Daily Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By Rikki King Her­ald Writer

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: 425-3393449; rk­ing@her­ald­net. com.-

Jahir Ce­nano re­acts to a missed host at goal as Je­sus Flores, 18, looks on Tues­day at the an­nual Casino Road Fut­bol Academy soc­cer camp held by the Everett Po­lice Depart­ment.

Je­sus Flores, 18, ad­dresses his team Tues­day at the an­nual Casino Road soc­cer camp held by the Everett Po­lice Depart­ment.

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