|VOL. 23, NO. 3||September 19, 1997|
Columbia Has Become an Ideal Venture for Summer's Children
By Todd Kennedy
anhattan can be a difficult place for children needing room to run during their summer respite from school. Columbia, however, once again helped alleviate that problem through the athletic department's extensive offering of camps and clinics.
Two of Columbia's most successful summer athletic programsthe Columbia University Tennis Development Program and the Columbia Soccer Academyintroduced the game to young children and developed the ability of more experienced players.
The tennis programoffered free of charge at three sites in upper Manhattanattracted more than 400 players, aged 4 to 18. The locations were: Inwood Park, Fred Johnson Park, and Riverside Park.
Dan Rivkind, director of the Columbia Tennis Center, and Arvelia Myers, a Columbia alumna and former regional vice-president of the Eastern Tennis Association, together have run the program for the past 20 years.
"We think this is a very worthwhile program for kids who can't get away to camps and who don't have the means to attend them," said Rivkind, who organized the clinic instructors and park permits, among other duties.
Camp instructor Alcide Moreira credited the clinics with teaching him the game. "My brother and I both grew up in the program," he said. "It's where I learned to play."
Moreira went on to play tennis in high school and college, and is now the head instructor at the Inwood Park clinics. "A lot of the kids can't even hit the ball when they start," he explained. "We teach them the strokes, but, just as important, we teach them about sportsmanship."
Moreira hopes to instill a lifelong appreciation of the game as part of his instruction. "The program sponsored a day at the U.S. Open for two of the hardest-working members of the clinic," he said. "We'd like to introduce the kids to the game, but we really want to develop that interest as well."
Five blocks away from the Inwood tennis site, Columbia varsity soccer coaches Dieter Ficken and Kevin McCarthy directed 190 soccer players aged 6 to 17 at the Columbia Soccer Academy. The camp appeared to be a well-oiled machine, with the various age groups engaged in drills before competing in scrimmages.
Columbia's Director of Physical Education, Ken Torrey, the camp's administrator, surveyed the five simultaneous scrimmages with a look of satisfaction. "This is a really well-run program," he said of Ficken and McCarthy's instruction. "We have a nice blend of experienced coaches, recent college players and former professional players."
Teaching such a diverse range of talent may appear a daunting task, but Ficken took it in stride.
"Sometimes the younger kids play more naturally than adults," he explained. "They have a wonderful way of approaching the game simply."
Ficken seemed to enjoy the camp just as much as the children. He said, "After 25 years on the coaching side, this is my absolutely most enjoyable soccer recreation. To see over 100 kids playing at a surprising level is tremendous."