Camp offers pro perspective to budding athletes

Two former pro athletes are bringing their games to youngsters in Rancho Santa Fe this summer.

Former NFL player Mikhael Ricks and former English Premier League soccer player Warren Barton will offer a professional perspective as part of the Horizon Prep Lions Sports Academy.

Soccer camp is open to students in first through eighth grade on June 22 to 26, July 13 to 17 and Aug. 10 to 14. Football camp will be open to boys in fourth through eighth grade for one session, Aug. 10 to 14. All camps will be run at the Horizon Prep Academy fields.

A former player for Wimbeldon and Newcastle United, Barton works as an analyst on the Fox Soccer Channel and coaches the under-18 Los Angeles Galaxy team, Galaxy Rios.

Barton has three children at Horizon Prep and coaches the boys and girls middle school teams at the school. The girls went undefeated this year.

Soccer camp with Barton promises to be in-depth, “I want to pass along the knowledge I have from getting to the highest level of the sport,” he said.

Children will work on technique and styles of play as well as communication skills and teamwork.

Barton said there are two important lessons for playing soccer. Rule one is to enjoy it.

“You will end up playing better if you enjoy it,” Barton said.

The second rule is to understand the basic skills, he said soccer is all about ball control and passing.

Because of his affiliation with Fox Soccer, the campers will be featured on one of the network’s July shows.

Mikhael Ricks is a former NFL tight end who played six years in the NFL for the San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs. Ricks is now the assistant sports performance director of Velocity Sports Performance San Diego, which trains athletes in sports of all kinds from lacrosse to golf. Velocity also helps out with physical education at Horizon Prep.

Ricks came from a small town of about 1,300 people in Texas. He said he never had the kind of opportunity he is now providing to young players.

“My grandparents instilled in me to give back as much as I can,” Ricks said.

In football camp, he will focus on stretching and mechanics, and “how to use your body as a tool.” He said he wants the kids to learn a lot but also have a good time doing it.

While Ricks has a background in offense, he won’t skimp on defense. Something Ricks said he learned from playing in the NFL: “You have to learn about how both sides of the football think.”

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