Chowan coach Whalley returning to hold soccer camp

Published 2:27 pm Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Washington, and Beaufort County as a whole, is building an impressive soccer culture. For the second-straight summer, Chowan soccer coach Chris Whalley will bring collegiate soccer players to Washington for camps.

Whalley and Hawk players came to Washington last summer. Local soccer instructor Nate Burns said that Whalley liked what he saw from the area and wanted to come work with local athletes again.

“They like what they see here and want to build a pipeline,” Burns said. Pam Pack standout Erik Ruiz is committed to play for the Hawks starting this fall. Chowan is also interested in goalkeeper Kevin Avilla, among other current Pam Pack players.

“It was really beneficial (last year),” Burns continued. “It was a really hot week, but the kids that played learned a lot. It’s leading into the rec season, so it’s a good preseason for them. They get a great camp, then they hit the ground running when the rec season starts. … If you haven’t played much before, this is a good way to develop your game fast.”

On top of the day camp, which is aimed at players from second through eighth grades, Whalley will also be holding a camp for the Pam Pack. In addition to training individual skills, the team camp allows him to teach team concepts such as spacing.

“It’s a way to get them some practice in front of a high-level coach and high-level players. It raises the level of competition,” Burns said. “The best players on the team won’t necessarily be the best players there because of the college players. Hopefully, it will raise everybody’s level of play.”

It also helps to have the perspective of another coach — especially a Division II college coach — before the Pam Pack’s preseason ramps up. Whalley has experience playing professionally. He helped take a one-win Chowan team and make it into a winning squad immediately. The Hawks captured their first NCCAA South Region Championship under his watch in 2015.

“He’s going to run it as if they’re his players,” Burns said.

It says a lot about the soccer culture that’s been developing in Beaufort County. The Pam Pack played for a state championship in 2015 and has continued to be a contender. Washington’s girls have fielded strong teams year after year, too. Southside’s boys are coming off of a strong season, and the Lady Seahawks wrapped up the program’s first year back in the spring.

“I think we’re a hotbed of talent. The future is bright,” Burns said. “The way the kids are playing, we have great teams on the men’s and women’s side. Washington has a solid (junior varsity) program, which not a lot of schools our size have. We play at a high level.”

In addition to strong teams, Washington has produced outstanding individuals, too. Burns believes that a lack of exposure for eastern North Carolina soccer has held the Pam Pack back from sending more soccer players to collegiate programs.

The hope is that this relationship with Whalley and Chowan will help with that exposure. Obviously, local soccer stars won’t have only Chowan to choose from, but it allows them to get evaluations from a collegiate coach, giving them an idea of what level they could pursue.

This year’s day camp will run from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., July 31 – Aug. 4. The last day of the camp will be a half day from 9 a.m. – noon. The cost will be $150 per camper. There is also a half-day option for each day that costs $90 for the week. For more information on the day camp, visit Any non-Washington high school players interested in the team camp can contact Nate Burns at 252-944-5597 for information.