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Christian Pulisic "Captain America" returns to "Stomping Grounds" and inspires area youth players

Opens training facility at PA Classics Soccer Park

MANHEIM, Pa. — If you are a kid there there isn't much to be excited about on a damp, cold and rainy Friday morning in Lancaster County.  

Having soccer star Christian Pulisic swing by you might as well have those rain drops turn into rays of sunshine.  

The Hershey native is a superstar here in the United States and worldwide with his club Chelsea.  His last few weeks have been a whirlwind with a Champions League title and a game winner against Mexico.

Friday as parents and fans uttered the words idol, role model, and humble on the sidelines, Christian Pulisic went about his business like any normal college aged senior would at a soccer camp where they're a counselor. 

The job of the day inspire the next generation as PA Classics Soccer Club dedicated and opened a new training facility named the "Pulisic Stomping Ground." 

So what does a worldwide star say to young kids who are to shy to speak as they stare at their idol with smiles.  

Well when a photographer forgets a piece of equipment and has to run back before a group photo and a silence hangs over the area. What can you do? You find a way to break the ice like Christian Pulisic did.

With a simple "are you guys ready for today," the tone was set. This was going to be a great day. 

There was a lot of joy in the circle, and on the pitch as kids went up against Christian Pulisic.  It was as if there were multiple young "Christian Pulisics" on the pitch as it was difficult to find a youngster not in either a U.S.A team kit or Chelsea one. 

“To inspire all these kids here and seeing my name on all these jerseys it really just makes me happy, it really is incredible,” Pulisic said as he flashed a smile

"Captain America" did a little bit of everything on this day from taking questions from kids, which could rival any journalist looking for the next big quote. 

“I don’t know what is tougher the English media or taking some questions from an eight-year-old in Lancaster PA. Definitely some tough ones there but it is always fun to do some Q and A’s with the kids."

Pulisic watched over some drills, gave pointers and every time he came by a session you could see the kids tense up.  Then something happened across the pitch wearing his white hoodie and white sneakers, Pulisic was between the pipes. Yes on a wet field sans cleats, having young kids try their best to lace one past him off of crosses. 

Pulisic stopped some, got hit with others, while a few made it home he encouraged every strike.  This is what the beautiful game is about, stars providing inspiration. 

“He volunteered to be in net so that was great," said Willie Whitty a PA Classics coach. " He saw the kids having a lot of fun and being energetic so I am sure it was awesome to be a part of it and jump in for him.”

It was and he even flashed a smile and said he his more confident on the other side at the dot. We saw that first hand with his strike against Mexico and you bet the kids wanted to know about it. 

When the fun was over there was just a hint of business. Cutting the ribbon on the new training facility dubbed "Pulisic Stomping Ground." 

The design according to Pulisic is just like the one he experienced when he was younger and living overseas.  

“I actually spent a year in England, and growing up there was actually fields similar to this."

"It was something so special, guys could come, anybody could really come, and play with out coaches and be able to have fun. That is where I feel I learned so much and where my passion for the game grew. So to give something like that is kind of what I imagined and it is even better than I thought it would be so it looks really cool."

The ceremony was nice with honors and applause for Christian as fans lined the perimeter.  Yes, it would have been a good event even if it was a regular opening, or maybe just a ribbon cutting with Pulisic there with a few dignitaries.  What made this special though, was the interaction and the clinic on the field with the kids and the spontaneous Pulisic making sure every kid had the chance to meet him in some way. 

“To have him actually present with all these kids peering down. watching him, it is just surreal it is an absolutely surreal moment for us as a club to go through that," a smiling Doug Harris, PA Classics President said as Pulisic signed what was was probably autograph number 500 on the day. 

Every stroke of the pen or Sharpie acting as a droplet of motivation and inspiration for the next generation.

Pulisic knows what he means to these kids.

“Would it have been cool to have an American player from my hometown to look up to as a young kid? Now if I am able to do that for some kids. It really means everything to me.”

Noah Scott made the short drive from Lancaster and came down to give Pulisic a high five. 

“I look up to him a lot and when I got to slap his hand I got it on video so it was kind of a big moment.”

One that I am sure has been shared and backed up.

As the day came to end the rain began to fall harder. Christian made his way to a tent and young fans waited for a chance to meet him, they were giddy and excited as the line snaked around.  There were no fast passes for this moment and that is a good thing as Pulisic made sure every kid left with a smile. Like Sophia Garza, who clutched her signed Team USA soccer ball.

"Just super excited, it just makes me feel that I really can just do better and I should strive for that perfection.”

He isn't the "Wonder Boy" anymore.

He is "Captain America," and whether it's on the pitches of Lancaster County, the Premier League or CONCACAF, it's clear that he, among a few others, carries the hopes and dreams of the future of America soccer.

No shield necessary to deflect that, it's already been embraced. 

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