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April 13, 2016

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina women’s soccer program held its eighth annual Fan Appreciation Clinic on Wednesday night at Stone Stadium. The two-hour event featured over 200 girls ages 5-12 who took part in soccer drills led by the Gamecocks and the women’s soccer coaching staff.

The night opened with a free dinner provided by PDQ before the clinic began at 6 p.m. on the field at Stone Stadium. Throughout the clinic, the Gamecocks and coaches worked with the kids at different stations, where they practiced dribbling, juggling and passing.

The youth soccer players were then treated to a South Carolina small sided scrimmage that showcased several of the Gamecock women’s soccer players. Following the scrimmage, the evening concluded with a raffle for participants and an autograph session during which players and coaches signed schedule cards for the girls.

“It’s fun to be around young players that are excited about the game,” women’s soccer coach Shelley Smith said. “I don’t think they realize how much it means to us to see them in the stands. It makes the playing environment special for the student-athletes.”

Women’s soccer, which has led South Carolina athletics in community service hours the past two years, created their Fan Appreciation Clinic as a thank you to all the fan support that has surrounded the team over the past several seasons. The Gamecocks have ranked in the top-10 In Division I in home attendance in each of the last three years, and their 2,655 fans per home match in 2015 stood as the third-highest mark nationally.

“It’s really awesome to have all the kids here, and they have great energy,” South Carolina junior defender Paige Bendell said. “It really helps boost our pride with the more fans we have.”

Wednesday’s event came four days after South Carolina wrapped up its spring season with two road victories this past weekend. The Gamecocks will conclude their spring with the Alumni Game on Saturday (11 a.m.) at Stone Stadium.