San Jose Earthquakes’ Chris Wondolowski & AST Host A Soccer Camp Dedicated To The Victims Of The Camp Fire.
Doing it Right: USMNT star Chris Wondolowski partners with AST to host soccer camp to help victims of the Camp Fire in Northern California – the nation’s deadliest fire in a century which spread across more than 153,336 acres, killing at least 85 people and destroying 14,000 residences.
The victims of the Camp Fire were given free entry into the camp.
Working together to offer some relief and respite from one of the most destructive wildfires in California’s history, one of the best forwards in the MLS today and a firm dedicated to helping athletes perform at their peak levels hosted a soccer program for kids of all ages.
The soccer camp ran from Dec. 13 – 15, and featured Wondolowski, the San Jose striker who holds the MLS record for most goals at one club (140), and double-digit goals scored for consecutive seasons (8), among others.
Wondolowski also is just one goal shy of equaling the MLS all-time goal scoring record (145), set by Landon Donovan.
On the international level, Wondolowski has made 35 caps for the National Team, scoring 11 goals during that time.
Wondolowski was assisted by former Chico State soccer player Robby Busick, and his brother, Chad Busick of AST. The camp allowed victims of the fires to practice their skills in a comfortable environment, under the leadership of one of the nation’s very best.
The camp also included a workshop by AST on mental toughness for all athletes involved in sports.
Chad Busick, a former college soccer player at California Lutheran University lead the workshops for the camp. Participants were able to learn from both Busick brothers, Chris Wondolowski, and several of Wondolowski’s Chico State teammates.
This program is a great example of how soccer can have a strong and positive impact on the lives of everyone involved.
SoccerToday’s Interview with AST’s Chad Busick:
Diane Scavuzzo: What motivated you to do this?
Robby Busick: I have been committed to helping with the Camp Fire relief since day two. This was a no-brainer. I wanted to organize this camp for four reasons:
- To replace soccer gear so they could get back to playing ASAP.
- Have a day where they could forget about all the bad things in their lives, and just be to be a kid again. Create some type in the normal again.
- Have Wondo be a part of it, so the kids could remember what it’s like to be normal again. Get the kids excited, not just about the day of the camp, but be able to remember it and motivate them to keep trying to be positive, and continue to push forward.
- Provide some mental training to help them handle the challenge at hand.
Chad Busick: My brother had been telling me about the devastation caused by the fire and how he was helping out he talked about how he was known as the “Mayor of WalMart” due to the help that he and his wife Jessica provided during the days immediately after the fire.
They were able to raise $30k through a “Go Fund Me” account to help people and he mentioned his idea for a soccer camp and getting his former Chico State teammate Chris Wondolowski to help with the camp. I was happy to help with the camp and do a Mental Toughness workshops for those affected by the CampFire.
Diane Scavuzzo: What was the best part of all of this?
Robby Busick: The best part was being able to replace soccer gear for those affected by the fire and just seeing the smiles from the kids, volunteers, Wondo, etc.
For one day, everyone forgot about the struggles of what our community was going through, and we were just kids and adults playing a game.
Chad Busick: Even if it was just for a couple of hours, there were smiles on the kids’ faces at the camp— they were running, sweating, learning, and having fun playing the sport they love.
Through the tragedy and devastation, there was a community from all over the world responding. We received about around 50+ emails from families who wanted to attend the camp but couldn’t and reached out to see if we had any soccer equipment because they had lost all of their soccer gear in the fire.
Through my relationship with Chris Lemay, at Utah Valley Women’s Soccer and his team at Soccer In The Sand, they connected us with Tim Fitzpatrick at Made To Order who donated and screened 200 shirts with the Chris Wondolowski Soccer Camp logo.
They also suggested we contact Soccer.com and through their Passback program donated around 250 pairs of cleats and 200 sets of shorts, shin guards, socks, and soccer balls.
Soccer.com pulled and shipped these items in less than one day and covered the cost of the shipping.
We received cleats and balls from Nike and lots of gear from the San Jose Earthquakes.
And, Ray Brown Printing provided all of the print materials for the Mental Toughness sessions at no charge — the list of donations goes on and on …
Diane Scavuzzo: What inspires you?
Robby Busick: I wake up every day since the fire and try to help as many people as possible. This area didn’t have a lot before the fire, and now a lot of people have nothing. It is easy to turn your back on people in need, but we need everyone to step up. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Over 13,000 houses were lost within 24 hours – a total of 14,000 in total.
We are the United States of America. We can get these people the help needed.
If one person commits suicide because of this or is living in a car or a tent, we have not done enough.
Chad Busick: I truly believe that sports and especially soccer can provide an amazing environment for so many life lessons. Through the window of sports, AST provides tools to tackle life’s everyday challenges both on and off the field.
Life, like soccer, is rarely played in a straight line — sometimes things are going our way and other times, it seems like the everything is against us.
But on the soccer field and in life, it really comes down to our connections. It’s our ability to provide cover and support for those around us while having others do the same for us.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are your future goals?
Robby Busick: Stay positive, keep moving forward, and help as possible. It takes a village.
There is also a GoFundMe page dedicated to helping the relief of the fires.
This article has been updated. When published, quotes were incorrectly labeled and omitted. We apologize.