No Arlington youth soccer camp for first time since 1975

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ARLINGTON — The John Werner Soccer Camp, which has run every year since its creation in 1976, has been canceled due to the coronavirus.

The camp, named after legendary Arlington high school boys varsity soccer coach John Werner, gives soccer players aged anywhere from five years old to 13 a chance to work on their game, and have fun while playing the sport.

The decision to cancel came on Thursday evening after months of discussions between the Arlington Soccer Club, the governing body for the Werner camp. Todd Wilkins began running the camp after Werner's death in 2018. Werner died at the age of 68 after a battle with cancer.

"When coach passed away, I made a promise to him that I would keep it going," Wilkins said. Wilkins is the varsity soccer coach at Arlington.

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"It was not an easy decision," Wilkins said. "That's why we literally dragged it out to the absolute last minute."

Typically, sign ups are already complete at this point in the year. The camp traditionally runs from late July into early August and draws on average 85-95 youth soccer players. Wilkins said the Arlington Soccer Club was closely monitoring Vermont Governor Phil Scott's updates regarding camps and sports activities.

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Wilkins didn't want participants, particularly the younger ones, to not enjoy the camp because of the restrictions, like wearing masks and social distancing. That also played a part in the cancellation.

"I certainly didn't want to have their experience at soccer be one that they didn't like," Wilkins said. "It's really meant to be fun, and we just didn't think that we could do it and make it fun for them."

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Wilkins said the safety of the participants was the top priority.

"We're gearing up to go back to school here," Wilkins said. "I don't want anybody getting sick, so we're trying to do our part."

Wilkins believes the Arlington Soccer Club ultimately made the right decision to cancel the event. That doesn't mean it's one he enjoys, though.

"It's certainly a said decision for me," Wilkins said. "It's our 45th year, we've never missed a year. I think there's a lot of organizations out there that can say the exact same thing."


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