Soccer free-for-all

Matt DeYoung • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:53 PM

During his eulogy at Mike Herman’s funeral in November of 2005, Father Bill Langlois called Herman the most all-inclusive kid he knew.

Now, nearly 10 years later, the same can be said for the soccer camp named in Herman’s honor.

The Mike Herman Memorial Soccer Camp held its sixth annual free camp this week, with more than 500 youngsters participating.

Jon Dault created the camp six years ago to provide an opportunity for area kids who couldn’t afford a high-priced summer soccer camp.

“That’s what this is all about,” Dault said. “It’s an all-inclusive camp. We don’t want anybody who can’t go because of money.

“The kids love the camp, and this year, I had a little more time to go around and talk to the parents, and they’re just so grateful that there’s an opportunity to take their kids to a camp. There was a guy starting at his kids, and he said, ‘Thank you so much. If it wasn’t for this, I couldn’t afford to bring my kids to a camp.’”

In past years, the Mike Herman Memorial Camp has brought in big-name clubs or college players to head up coaching.

This year, it was almost exclusively high school kids from Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Holland who offered their time and expertise to the campers.

“We had 50 coaches this year, and eight of them were high school graduates or out of college, but the rest are all high school kids,” Dault said. “And this camp all depends on the coaches.”

The Mike Herman Memorial Camp started out with a little more than 250 kids in attendance six years ago. That number skyrocketed to 736 kids two years ago, and has since settled to around 500.

“That’s a manageable number,” Dault said. “It would be fun to try to get 1,000, but it’s really hard to manage that many kids.”

On the final day of the camp, which ran from Tuesday to Thursday, former NFL quarterback and Grand Haven resident Gary Hogeboom addressed the kids in attendance.

“Gary did a motivational speech about being a team player, and how to become the best player, you have to serve your fellow player,” Dault said. “There couldn’t have been a better message for this camp. Give of yourself to become the best you can be.”

The camp is named after Mike Herman, who was a sophomore at Grand Haven High School when he died in an automobile accident on a snowy November night in 2005. Herman had just wrapped up his sophomore season on the Buccaneers’ varsity soccer team, where he was named honorable mention all-state.

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