Ryan Hankey continues to change the culture with the Penn Hills boys soccer program.
Hankey, who will be entering his third year as Indians head coach, will have a MLS scout host a soccer camp for the second year in a row leading up to the beginning of mandatory camp as the Indians prepare for the 2018 season.
Ed Puskarich, who Hankey met through one of his assistant coaches with his Century United FC team, will host a daily two-hour soccer camp at Nate Ferraco Memorial Field from 1 to 3 p.m. July 30 to Aug. 2.
Puskarich is a United States Soccer Federation “A” license coach who has coached soccer for more than two decades at multiple levels.
Along with being a MLS scout, Puskarich is the director and coach of the Texas Spurs FC, which is part of the Women’s Premier Soccer League. Puskarich is the executive director of the Stars ‘N Stripes International Soccer Tours.
“It gives everyone a fresh and different voice before the seasons starts. I did it last year and everyone that did said I want to do it again,” Hankey said.
“It’s a great way to get a head start before the season to get a quality coaching and training from an MLS scout. It’s a good way to create a week practice before the season practices start.”
The camp, which will have an emphasis on the technical side of soccer, is open to any Penn Hills middle school and high school student who is involved in the soccer program already or interested in playing soccer.
The focus will be on fundamental skills, including dribbling, shooting, passing, heading, trapping and juggling.
One perk, in the eyes of Hankey, is the low cost for the camp of $94. The registration deadline for the camp is July 25.
“I was trying to get a way to be cheap and effective. I know teams are going to camps all day, and they are spending three times the amount and not getting the quality of coaching Ed will be giving them,” Hankey said.
“A lot of boys are playing multiple sports. I’m trying to get more numbers involved. I hope a lot of them will be able to attend from 1-3 p.m.”
One addition Hankey has made this offseason was adding a strength and conditioning program. The Indians get together every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for an hour and a half for training.
The senior class has immediately taken ownership as being leaders of the team.
“Last year, we didn’t win a game. Already this year, I’m seeing such a big difference,” Hankey said. “The seniors are stepping up being leaders. The seniors are seeing the struggles as a team, and they are really stepping up the last two weeks.
“All the seniors are coming to the strength and speed training and really taking ownership and being leaders of the team. It’s creating a buzz from the middle class grades. The culture has flipped. We are growing as a team, and it’s exciting to see.”
The Indians senior class is lead by midfielder Stephen Salah and midfielder/forward Malik Paolucci, as well as defenders Matt Lloyd, Shane Myers and Brent Starr.
Hankey will look to sophomore midfielder Anthony Sciulli, who will look to have a bounce-back season after missing half of his freshman season because of a torn ACL.
Junior defenders Mike DeVito and Javon Williams will look to contribute next season, while junior A.J. Collins will man the net after Luke Greenaway’s graduation.
Andrew John is a freelance writer.