May 19, 2012
By Charles Cuttone
ENDURING NO. 1
Camp program has thrived for 35 years
Soccer is a tough business. Itís rare for a manager like Alex Ferguson to stay in one place as long as he has. Itís even rarer for a soccer camp program to endure even longer than that, but that is exactly what No. 1 Soccer Camps has done.
|No. 1 Soccer Campers at the Blue Ridge School outside of Charlottesville, VA
Photo courtesy of No. 1 Soccer Camps
Founded by Joe Machnik, the camps have been around since 1977 and are now entering their 37th season, with more than 20 locations around the country.
A native of Brooklyn, NY, Machnik played at Long Island University and worked with the late Walt Chyzowych on his soccer camps.
"I developed an ability to teach goalkeepers," said Machnik, whose career has also included coaching at LIU and the New York Arrows of the Major Indoor Soccer League, commissioner of the American Indoor Soccer Association, and a long tenure working with Major League Soccer.
After a while working with Chyzowych, Machnik says he decided to strike out on his own with a goalkeeper-specific camp. Among the first coaches to work with him were former New York Cosmos goalkeeper Shep Messing .
"I did the first camp at the Trask School in Connecticut and brought in 39 goalkeepers from 13 states," Machnik said.
The following year, the camp grew to 200 goalkeepers from 39 states. "Then it took off like crazy," he says.
"I was not only developing goalkeepers, but goalkeeper coaches. Some of these goalkeepers then did their own camps," says. "We decided we needed to do something to keep growing, so we started a camp for strikers."
Machnik points out that "back then goalkeepers had no foot skills."
The early camps eventually evolved to their current name, No. 1 Soccer Camps.
The program's list of graduates, especially on the goalkeeper side, reads like a who's who of American soccer. It includes Real Salt Lake's Nick Rimando, New England Revolution netminder Matt Reis -- who just picked up his 100th career MLS win -- the Vancouver Whitecapsí Joe Cannon, FC Dallas's Kevin Hartman and the San Jose Earthquakesí Jon Busch, along with former U.S. National Team goalkeeper David Vanole. Former MLS forward Herculez Gomez, now with Santos Laguna in the Mexican Primera Division, also is a former No. 1 camper.
With camps in 16 states, Machnick says "itís still a place where lots of learning takes place," although he admits that the club system now keeps many top players close to home.
Machnik says "We are working with kids that need more coaching."
Many of Machnik's staff have been with his camp for years, and include college head coaches such as George Mason's Greg Andrulis, former pro players like Clark Brisson and a number of NSCAA staff coaches.
No.1 Camp locations offer both resident and day camp options.
The Philadelphia area camps take place August 5-9 at the Westtown School in West Chester, Pennsylvania. There are also camps in Maryland and the Pittsburgh area.