NEW FRANKLIN  Consider it a preview, with a dose of team bonding mixed in.

Neveah Mowery and her Manchester girls soccer teammates headed off to a team camp at Cleveland State University with the hopes of getting a better handle on their collective identity and improve as the season nears.

For Mowery, individually, it was a look ahead to what she can expect next year when she heads off to college.

"The camp was really nice the staff and coaches were really nice and I think that we went their hoping to figure out our formation because we weren’t sure what we were going to do yet," Mowery said. "We also did a lot of drills and stretches that will help us before games."

Learning from the Cleveland State coaching staff gave the Panhters an opportunity to hear new, different perspectives on the game in addition to those they hear from their own coaching staff.

One moment in particular stood out to Mowery as she went through a camp session and was having a tough day.

"The biggest impact for me was one of the Cleveland State assistant coaches talking to me when I was frustrated with myself and he told me to keep my head up and said that I have a lot of potential. He told me, ‘You’re a better player than you think you are,’ and I took it as a huge compliment."

Camp also provided chances for Mowery to ask the Cleveland State coaching staff questions about the recruiting process and what she can expect as she pursues a chance to play college soccer next season. She learned the importance of getting her name out there through different means and being active in seeking out a college soccer opportunity.

Off the field, camp was a time to hang out, have fun and given that the World Cup was going on at the time, watch more soccer. There was a large common area where players from all of the teams at the camp would hang out, according to Mowery, and watch World Cup games.

Seeing some of the best players in the world do battle on the sport’s biggest stage was a fun way to spend time with teammates and also making new friends in the process.

"We got food catered to the campus, so we also had dinner together every night and when we would have off time between sessions, we would hang out in the dorm rooms," Mowery said.

As a team, the Panthers also got off campus to walk around downtown Cleveland and went out for dinner and ice cream one night. Though the camp was just a few days long, it was a welcome occasion to get away from normal practices under the hot summer sun and stay on a college campus while working toward the start of the season and having fun at the same time.

Knowing that in a year’s time, she will most likely be headed off to college on her own to start a new chapter in her life, Mowery did her best to enjoy one final team camp trip with her current group of friends and teammates before her senior season begins and all of the obligations and busyness that comes with it commence.

"It was a chance to see what life will be like for me next year," she said of the trip.

Now that camp is in the rearview mirror and games are just a few short weeks away, the next step is taking the lessons learned from camp and putting them into action on the field. The preview is just about over; it’s nearly time for the real thing to begin.

Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
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