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December 5, 2012

Soccer star comes home

MLS player, Ike grad Justin Meram returns to give back with camp

By Jon Malavolti
C & G Sports Writer

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Soccer star comes home
Justin Meram, an Eisenhower grad who now plays for the Columbus Crew, will host a pair of upcoming weekend soccer camps, with a portion of the proceeds being donated to Utica Community Schools’ sports.

Fresh off his second season playing for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer, Justin Meram knows he wouldn’t be where he is today without his educational and athletic background as an alumnus of Utica Community Schools.

That’s why the Utica Eisenhower High School graduate will be spending his holidays in his hometown, giving back to the community in the form of a pair of weekend youth soccer camps, proceeds from which will be donated UCS athletics.

“The main reason I started these camps was to give back to the soccer community that I grew up playing in,” Meram said. “Just being able to make a young boy or girl better in a two-day span makes me feel like I did my job helping out. Instead of going to a resort or vacation during my offseason, I felt like it is necessary to give back any way possible.

“As far as giving back to the booster club in the Utica Community Schools, I think it is necessary for every professional that comes out of this district to give back. Without everyone in the district, I do not know where I would be today,” Meram said.

Meram added that it was a “no brainer” to help out.

“I can give back to the district; this will allow the kids playing a better atmosphere and hopefully make their game better,” he said. “Nothing would be better than to see the next draft picks being picked from my hometown.”

His camps, dubbed the “J9 Academy Camps” will take place Dec. 22-23 and Dec. 29-30 at Oakland Yard in Waterford and Elite Indoor Sports in Shelby Township, respectively. Each camp will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. both days for boys and girls ages 6-16 of all skill levels.

The cost for the camp is $120 and includes six hours of professional instruction and small-sided games, along with a camp T-shirt and other gifts. The coaching staff will be made up of players and coaches with high-level experience. Meram described it as an “all-star staff.”

“To use our knowledge of the game to teach the kids is amazing,” he said. “These camps are fun, but the purpose is to get better in every aspect.

“The main focus of the camp is to teach kids the advanced techniques and fundamentals that maybe they haven’t seen yet. Due to the level my staff has played at, and myself learning each day in a professional atmosphere, we can bring these new skills to light in our camp. We also make it extremely fun and believe that, when you are having the most fun playing the game, you learn the most, as well.”

Meram, a 2006 Division 1 first-team All-State selection at Ike who helped lead the University of Michigan to the 2010 national semifinals, recently wrapped up a productive season for the Crew. He said he “achieved a lot of goals” and “matured tremendously.”

“I had a great season this year,” Meram said.

He hopes to continue improving and eventually play at the highest level.

“I feel that it is every kid’s dream to play in a World Cup one day, so from the beginning of my college career to now, I am still working harder than ever to give myself a shot at making the U.S. National Team.”

For more information about Meram and the camps, including registration, visit www.JustinMeram.com or call (586) 232-5099.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jon Malavolti at jmalavolti@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1040. Twitter Follow Jon on Twitter.