Coaches transform from British lads to Texas cowboys
By Alonzo Garza
The transformation was complete by Wednesday, July 9. The British lads from Alton, England, became full-fledged Lockhart, Texas, cowboys. It was uncanny.
Both Philip Denzel “Phil” Thomas and Oliver “Olly” Robinson were happily and willingly morphed into Texans within three days of their arrival in Lockhart.
s and Robinson were in town to lead the Major League Soccer camp and clinic. The MLS camp took place at the Cpl. Jason K. LaFleur Sports Complex on Maple Street behind Lockhart Junior High School from Monday, July 7 – Friday, July 11.
According to both MLS coaches, animals are somewhate rare in their small market community, where one of the largest commercial employers is in the financial services sector. Alton, England, has more to do with farming, harvesting and brewing than it does with ranching.
Animals alone caused a sensation for the pair, who stayed at the ranch home of Dallas and Jennifer Bothell while in Lockhart. Both were amazed at the different animals they saw, including the longhorns, donkeys and vultures, which they had never seen. Both found the animals fascinating.
Friends and teammates back home, the pair enjoyed spending time together after the camps. They had a great time floating down the San Marcos River, playing soccer at Sewell Park and meeting people everywhere they went. One of their favorite treats was hanging out on Sixth Street in Austin.
The MLS coaches were well taken care of while in Lockhart. They were treated to lunch daily by the parents and families of the campers so they got to taste a variety of local foods. The pair sampled Lockhart’s famous barbeque and good, hot and spicy Mexican food.
“I’m not fussy and will eat and like to try most things,” Thomas said.
Coming to Lockhart after having been in Maine and Connecticut last year, Thomas and Robinson were surprised with how hot Texas weather can get. They are far from done dealing with Texas heat. After their Lockhart visit the MLS Camps program will send them to Galveston where they will be heading up another summer soccer camp for a different group of eager campers.
“It is very hot here,” Robinson said. “Very, very, very hot.”
Despite the relentless heat, both “Coach Phil” and “Coach Olly” said they had such a positive experience in Lockhart, they would request to come back next year.
The camper’s parents were equally pleased with the MLS Camps experience.
“My son Thomas had a really fun time at soccer camp,” Karen Bingham said. “It’s really gotten him excited about the upcoming soccer season. The coaches were great and really connected with the kids.”
Lezlie Krenz, the mother of McKade and Kallie Krenz, agreed.
“Both of my kids had a great time,” Krenz said. “I am amazed at the skills they learn because they’re having so much fun they don’t realize they’re learning. We will be back!”
What a wonderful trade off – local children learning valuable soccer skills from highly-trained coaches from abroad and MLS coaches traveling to the United States and experiencing the diversity that makes America special. It is a win-win situation for all parties involved.
See you at next year’s MLS camp.