Lohman hoping to have some kicks

Published 1:50 pm Wednesday, July 18, 2007

By By PETER WILLIAMS, Staff Writer
After 17 years, John Lohman believes he knows how to coach soccer.
He also knows that alone isn’t enough to create a soccer program.
Lohman is head coach for the four-day clinic put on by the Washington Optimist Club. It will run throughout Wednesday.
This year, 50 kids will participate in the camp. After Labor Day, more than 400 children will participate in the local Optimist Club soccer.
Lohman understands that soccer isn’t a typical Southern sport, but he sees that it’s gaining a foothold. But he believes it’s not gaining one on the south side of the Pamlico River.
For the past seven years, Lohman has taught at Southside High School. He coaches the girls softball team there. He’d like to see soccer take hold there, but he hasn’t seen that happen.
He also hasn’t given up.
The Washington Optimist Club league forms a feeder program that in turn sends players to P.S. Jones Middle School and Washington High School. Lohman would like to see that kind of program across the river on a smaller scale.
On the high school level, Lohman figures he needs 20 serious players to field a club team at a 1-A school. Washington High School is a 3-A school and the largest schools are classified as 4-A.
It’s a start at Southside. It wouldn’t be a varsity sport, but it’s a start.
Lohman is not ready to quit. He’ll coach a club team at Southside this fall if there is participation, he says.
Lohman hails from New York. He’s coached there, Arizona and North Carolina. It’s not the World Cup he’s coached; often it’s been at junior high schools.
But he’d like to see the sport grow. Some of his sons were there at the camp Monday.
He can’t make it grow, he admits. The players have to.
Monday he was teaching the basics to children who aren’t even old enough to go to school. He taught them ball control with a small set of orange cones.
Soccer is a fluid game, but the youngest of the young clump together in a giant glob. They look, Lohman said, like a large amoeba. His job is to teach some of them to drop back, and “wait for the ball to pop out” from the clump.
It costs upwards of $4,000 or more to field a single youth league soccer team. It’s not just T-shirts and a soccer ball. There are referees at $50 each per game. Each game needs three. And nets. And insurance. The City of Washington requires a fee for each player in the league to help maintain the fields they play on. The entry fee a parent pays doesn’t come close to the cost of what it cost to field that player.