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Auburn Youth Soccer/Rainier Valley Slammers get visit from soccer great Mia Hamm
This past Monday players from the Auburn Youth Soccer Association got a visit from former-USA soccer and professional woman's soccer superstar Mia Hamm.
Hamm was on hand at Game Farm Park in Auburn to provide instruction and support for AYSA players as part of the organization's new cooperative agreement with powerhouse youth soccer club Slammers FC, based in Southern California.
According to AYSA director Craig Danileson the organization inked a deal with the Slammers a year ago to take advantage of the Southern California-based organization's success in instructing players and coaches and helping athletes move on to college and professional soccer.
"It's huge for us," Danielson said. "It brings us to the level of competing with the bigger clubs around the state. As a director, I brought the Slammers to the table to convert Auburn Youth Soccer to the Rainier Valley Slammers. It's just been a positive thing. We've grown from 18 teams to 29 teams in just a year because of that affiliation."
Already, Danielson said the partnership has paid off, with the Rainier Valley Slammers U17 boys team earning a National Championship this month at the National Cup X tourney in Boise.
In addition to Hamm – who works as a trainer with the Slammers in California – coaching directors Walid Khoury and his brother, Ziad Khoury, were on hand to help AYSA players.
"We decided to come up here and start the Rainier Valley Slammers and try to duplicate what we have in Southern California in developing players for the next level," Whalid Koury said.
Since their establishment in 1994 the Slammers have found success developing players and moving them on to college and the professional ranks.
This year Slammers FC alumni Whitney Engen was named the Women's Professional Soccer Defender of the Year for her play with the Western New York Flash, and Christen Press was honored as the WPS Rookie of the Year for her play with the magic.Jack of Florida.
"The Slammers program is really geared around college and the next level," Danielson said. "They're so linked in with a lot of high level people. They get these kids into the next level. Their track record is very good, versus other programs that sell it but can't produce it."
For Hamm, the camp was a chance to get out and promote the sport and help younger players understand what it takes to make it to the next level.
"It's extremely important," Hamm said. "I don't know how many of these kids were able to watch me play but (came out) just to share the love and passion I have for the game. Also, you see some of these kids and they want to continue to play. As their success rate goes up you see the look on their faces. That's what is so fun about coaching is to see those small successes."
For more information on the Auburn Youth Soccer Association visit their Web site.
For more information on the Slammers FC visit slammers.org.