From the second she hobbled over, Alex Morgan drew a crowd.
And the Diamond Bar High School graduate, on crutches due to an ankle injury, had a big smile that never left her face.
The United States soccer star was surrounded by young players who had traveled from around Southern California – even across the country – to be part of the first-ever Alex Morgan Soccer Camp on Saturday in Pomona.
“This is our first foray into it,” said Mike Morgan, Alex’s father, during the afternoon session. “It’s something that she decided to do to give back to the community especially doing here close to our hometown.”
Boys and girls were at the soccer fields in Pomona getting instruction and lessons from Morgan – despite the crutches – and a group of coaches including teammates from the Portland Thorn and her fiancé, Servando Carrasco of the Houston Dynamo.
Saturday was the first of two days for the camp, which continues Sunday, at Veteran’s Park soccer complex. The first-time event was a “test,” according to Mike Morgan. A test that included a sold out afternoon session.
“This has been fantastic,” Mike Morgan said of the attendance for Saturday’s two sessions. “I was nervous. I didn’t know how it would go.”
But from the look on the young players’ faces, it was more than successful. Youngsters were on the field wearing everything from their AYSO team jerseys, to camp T-shirts, to Alex Morgan replica jerseys. And they all were excited to be around the player who has become one of the new faces of United States women’s soccer.
Whether that translates into future camps is still uncertain. This year worked out in Alex’s schedule, as she is in the offseason from her club in Portland, and won’t be gearing up for the 2015 World Cup qualifying until later in the year.
But, according to Mike Morgan, seeing his daughter give lessons is just paying it forward, especially since he had little knowledge about the sport before she joined AYSO.
“I never grew up with soccer so they played more softball, basketball,” he said. “Well, as she was getting a little older, she said ‘Dad I like this soccer.’ I thought, soccer, what’s that?”
It turned out to be the right call.