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Posted by Team, 23rd February 2018
In this new GIS Blog Series, we will be talking with families to get a closer insight into how they have benefited from GIS related programming from a soccer, experiential, and family perspective. We are nothing without our all-star families and hopefully, these blogs will show our immense appreciation for the trust they put in us.
First up is the Keesic family!
1. Tell us a little bit about your family and your involvement with soccer.
We live in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada and our kids attend a local soccer academy, the Thunder Bay Chill.
We love soccer and watch soccer regularly on TV. We follow many different pro leagues and certain tournaments such as the World Cup. We have even built a soccer field in our backyard and had special nets created for our field. In the Spring, Summer, and Fall months, we play together pretty much daily. Soccer is a lifestyle for our family.
2. How many kids do you have and at what ages did they start attending GIS related events?
We have 4 kids. Our oldest daughter lives and goes to college in Oakville, Ontario. Our 3 kids, that live at home, all play soccer. Ethan(15) started attending GIS events at age 10, Hannah(12) started at age 9 and Andrew(10) started at age 7. So we have been involved with GIS for the past 6 years.
3. What events have you attended?
-4 West Ham ID Camps
-5 West Ham National Camps
-1 West Ham Elite Camp
-ChievoVerona Residential Academy
-West Ham Elite Camp/2018
-ChievoVerona Residential Academy/2018
-West Ham United National Camp/2018
-3 West Ham ID Camps
-4 West Ham National Camps
-1 West Ham Elite Camp
-2 West Ham ID Camps
-3 West Ham National Camps
-2 West Ham Elite Trips
-West Ham Elite Trip/2018
-West Ham National Camp/2018
4. How have your kids benefited from events GIS has put on?
Our kids have benefitted significantly from GIS events over the past few years. Although we have a great local soccer club, the Thunder Bay Chill, we have been very thankful for the supplemental opportunities for player development and additional opportunities available through GIS. In addition to the soccer-related development, we have also enjoyed the opportunities to travel, visit other countries and, via the Elite Player Trip, to experience five premier league matches – there are no words to describe the atmosphere of being at a live game! Also, our children have met a number of professional soccer players during various GIS events…you never know who may show up!
5. What has been the most valuable thing your kids have gained from these events?
The most valuable aspect re our children following their participation in GIS-related soccer events has been the dramatic, consistent and long-lasting improvement of various soccer related skills, techniques, tactics, etc., we have observed. We could mention many other aspects, but, given our focus on soccer, we have selected this factor.
6. In what ways has GIS impacted their development as soccer players?
The GIS experiences our children have participated in consistently reinforce aspects of the game that top players utilize such as checking your shoulder, knowing your next play and making the best decision based on the information that you receive/interpret from the game you are playing in. The high quality of coaching and the high standards of performance expected of the players by the coaches has also significantly accelerated their development by not only focusing on the specific mechanics and mastery of certain techniques and finally focusing on increasing the speed of execution. The sessions are very well thought out and incrementally build on a specific skill set, while being age and developmentally appropriate.
Our children (and we) have greatly enjoyed the positivity of the coaches which, in turn, has resulted in our children enjoying training, even though they are always working very hard. Also, the positive reinforcement has contributed to the development of playing self-confidence as the coaches challenge them and encourage them to try new skills without fear of making mistakes. Additionally, having coaches who have reached very high levels of playing or have participated in the development of professional players is another aspect of the GIS experience that our children have appreciated/respected and have specifically noted this as an aspect that ‘matters’ to them.
7. What has your experience been like on our Elite Trips?
The Elite trips are incredible and we love every bit of it; the sightseeing, the various tours, attending a live professional game and the range of activities are all very enjoyable. With regards to the soccer-related aspects of the Elite trip, we would rate all as world class: the coaching, quality of player participants, training sessions and facilities. The trip is organized in a professional manner and the kids and all travelers are well taken care of. The best thing we can say about it is that we can’t wait to go back the next time!
8. What was Ethan’s experience like at the ChievoVerona Residential Academy?
Ethan really loved his time at the ChievoVerona Residential Academy. We have seen significant improvement in him as a soccer player; in particular, air ball mastery (skills related to trapping, controlling, passing, volleying and shooting the ball while in the air) and his touch.
It took him a few weeks to adjust to the different culture, the food and being far from home but he enjoyed it overall so much that he can’t wait to go back in March. The boys trained about 6 times per week and their training included field sessions along with strength and conditioning workouts. They got to travel a bit on weekends and attended all the home games of ChievoVerona. Several times per week he along with the other participants took Italian language lessons with the aim of the boys becoming able to be ‘conversationally’ fluent.
We think it is such a privilege for Ethan to be able to go live overseas and experience life as a professional soccer player. This would never be possible without GIS.
9. Outside of soccer development, how else have GIS programs impacted your kids?
One of the amazing ways our kids have been impacted by GIS has been meeting people from all over the world and creating lasting friendships. It has expanded our/their world since they have traveled to different countries, eaten different foods and observed different customs. We’ve been on the London Eye, seen Buckingham Palace, gone under London Bridge and shopped in Verona, Italy to name a few key memories.
In our experience, GIS always had such incredible staff. They are knowledgeable, very welcoming and friendly; remembering our kids each time we come back. The staff has set a great example in terms of how our children/people should act when in the company of others, being thoughtful and considerate.
10. And lastly, a fun one… Who is your favorite pro club?!
Although we enjoy all good soccer and many different teams our two
favorite clubs are:
Premier League: West Ham
La Liga: Real Madrid
If you’d like your family to be in the next GIS Family Spotlight, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.