Originally, the West End United Summer Soccer Clinic was started by Sasha Teska and Devin DeCiantis in May of 1996, and was held for the last two weeks in August. Advertising was basically done by canvasing various West End fields and was spread by word of mouth.
52 children showed up for at least one week that summer, and many of these children decided to come back for another week. Our staff was small, but we always maintained a 5:1 ratio of children to staff.
In our second year of operations, West End United allowed the clinic to distribute its flyers along with their registration package. This gave Sasha and Devin an opportunity to tap the over 1000 participants in the growing league. The camp was run for four weeks in 1997, and as our hours of operation doubled, so too did enrollment. 101 children signed up for the camp in '97, many of whom spent 2 and 3 weeks at the camp. We were able to hire seven members of additional staff to account for the rise in attendance, and things were still running smoothly. Another unexpected bonus in '97 was the addition of adidas Canada as an official sponsor of the clinic, a relationship that has been embraced by both sides and promises to endure.
Finally in 1998, operations were expanded to include six straight weeks during the summer, and attendance kept up, with just over 125 children attending the camp for at least one week. 1998's camp was topped off by a Clinic Picnic on Sunday, August 16th. The picnic was attended by nearly 60 people, all of whom were friends and family of clinic participants and staff. After the picnic, everyone headed down to watch a Toronto Lynx game. The children who attended the camp were asked to form a tunnel and cheer for the Lynx as they left the player's tunnel and headed for the field. All in all, a pretty successful day for everyone involved.
In 1999, the camp expanded in an effort to accomodate Swansea Soccer participants with a camp tailored for children in the Rennie Park area. With this expansion came a change in name: from this point on the camp would be called the WEST END CLINIC, in recognition of the fact that it was no longer tied strictly to West End United. After a successful first year running two operations, the table was set for another fantastic season at both locations.
The new millenium was ushered in with the most successful camp to date, with record attendance at both locations for every week of the camp. The online photo gallery was complimented by the purchase of a digital camera, and children were encouraged to go online and check out the latest photos of them and their friends in action!
As for the future, all the organizers hope is that the camp remains popular with the kids, and becomes a summer-time fixture for all those players who are looking to improve their skills in a fun and competitive environment.