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Lacy Ngo, MS, RD

Finding a good trainer is also extremely important. My son currently does private soccer training with Optimist Training. If you live in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Fort Mill, South Carolina, or the surrounding area, I recommend checking out Optimist Training. The trainer, Billy, is a member of the United States Soccer Federation. He played NCAA division 1 soccer and has coached for 30 years. He also happens to have a passionate personality and is great at inspiring and motivating kids.

From her website article Private Soccer Training and Diet: A Plan for Success

Lacy is a nationally recognized dietician and the author of Nutrition for Youth Soccer.

Ian Dennis, Teacher, Charlotte Contry Day School

Billy and Stephanie took great care of our group of 15 middle school aged campers. We kayaked down the Catawba River on June 11, 2021. Billy guided us down the river after a basic but thorough tutorial covering how to paddle, safety instructions, and how best to navigate the river. Billy was especially helpful helping campers paddle down the three mile stretch between the Lake Wylie Dam and River Park in Rock Hill, SC. We will be back next year and have already pencilled in the date for 2022.

Laura Stanton

We had a great time paddling to Landsford Canal with Billy! The water was a little high that day and we had a big group with kids so we were very thankful to have Billy there to teach and guide us. He really knows his stuff and I credit him with keeping us safe and happy the whole time. We literally could not have done it without him. I would def recommend a guide on this second of the river, and Billy was a perfect choice for us!

Jim Chadwick

"We looked around for guided kayak tours and went with Optimist Training due to Billy's great personality. He was a wonderful guide and helped us improve our kayak abilities. We had only kayaked on flat water at the White Water Center. There were currents, eddies, and rocks. We were glad to have learned some skills from Billy before we went out. We spent 2 hours on the water around the Spider Lillies and took our time. If we had gone by ourselves, it would've been over in 30-45 min as we wouldn't have known how to turn around in the still spots. Well worth the effort and money. We never knew we were this close to such an amazing place!"

Diana Leon

Optimist Training is the best kept secret in the Carolinas!!! I would like to thank Billy Wilken and his wife Stephanie for planning and executing two fun filled weeks of a custom adventure summer camp for my son, his cousins and family friends- a custom group of kids from 12 to 15 years of age. The adventure camp included kayaking, fishing, swimming, hiking, disc golf and sports training. The kids were at Ebenezer Park on Lake Wylie, Andrew Jackson State Park, the Catawba River and the Fort Mill Dam to Riverwalk. The kids had so much fun that at the end of the day, they just wanted an afternoon snooze instead of looking at their phones. Billy is a great guy, while fishing, he taught the kids all kinds of fun facts like how to tell time by just looking at the sun's location. Most important, he's able to identify a child's natural sport's abilities and give the coaching and reinforcement to help the child thrive. A special thank you to Billy and Stephanie for their hard work and flexibility with us to make this a memorable experience, the kids loved it!!! We are now planning an adventure birthday party that will involve all three generations. I highly recommend Optimist Training for custom camp adventures , special events and more. Thank you!!!

Ellen B. Greenburg
Fairfax County Park Authority

When I spoke to Billy Wilken, he had great ideas for our three-day training program. Billy and his staff developed several teambuilding initiatives that not only made training more exciting for our counselors, but they took our policies and procedures manual and incorporated the information into the initiatives...Since the entire summer staff training was a huge success, I went on to request Billy Wilken and his group to set up something similar for our RECenter full time programming staff.  The teambuilding day was very successful and staff often request more of them.

Mike and Susan Gimbert
McLean, VA

...thank you for Sunday's party. The boys had a great time. We have had many birthday parties over the years but this was by far the best.

The boys had a great time working the challenges and were even more delighted when they were able to complete them. We loved the way you managed the kids and were able to keep twelve 11 year-old boys interested. it is very evident that you have a true passion for working with kids and getting them to think "outside of the box." Thank you again for an excellent party.

Tami Dozier
Girl Scout Troop 1514

Billy, just wanted to let you know what a good time the girls (and leaders) had on our trip yesterday. This troop has been together for quite awhile now and they have done some really neat stuff...but many of the girls claimed that yesterday's trip was the best thing ever. thanks for arranging this for our group. it was an extremely memorable experience for us.

Matt Menashes, Executive Director
Professional Paddlesports Association

Dear Billy,

Thank you for helping make the 2001 Professional Paddlesports Conference and Trade Show a complete success. This year's Outfitter games were the best ever thanks to your input. I know everyone enjoyed all your great ideas and fun times.

Congratulations also on winning the Peer Award. You certainly deserve it after all your hard work on the conference. Feedback we received from Conference attendees indicates the event was a huge success.  We couldn't have done it without your help.

Michele J. Hatfield
Project Manager
Anthony Robbins Companies


Dear Billy,

Your unique talents and creativity enhanced the overall outcome of the event. A quote from Tony Robbins in a letter to Mark Hardie stated, "We were all impressed by the high caliber of the facilitators who led with attention, energy and gentle strength."

Mary Lee
Arlington, VA

Dear Bill,

When I told Robert this morning that you would no longer be coaching his team he burst into tears and began sobbing uncontrollably. He was distraught. He was quick to point out that the team was formed for the kids and as far as he knew, the kids all loved you, they were having fun and they were learning soccer...I'm sure Robert's reaction was pretty typical of all the boys. It's obvious that you put your heart and soul into this team...thanks for all you have done for Robert...take care and expect a call from us mid-July after our vacation.

Tommy Gordon
Springfield, VA

Dear Billy,

Thank you so much for coming to Sangster Elementary School. I really liked you coming because I did not know you could use teamwork so much. I also did not know you had to be so trustful to do teamwork. Since when could teamwork be educational? I really learned a lot that morning with you. Hope you come again.

PS If you come back, I hope I can learn more.

Christie Bae
Hemlock Overlook

Dear Billy,

Thank you for being my guide! You were so funny and sarcastic about a lot of things. I never felt so bonded with my class! I loved your team work games. My personal favorites were the Peanut Butter Pit and the Rock Balancing game. I'm scared of heights so I can't believe I did the zipline. My favorite thing we did was just looking at the trees. Oh boy, had I wished I brought a camera! Anyways, thank you so much for the fun experience!

Debbie Jeunette
Program Coordinator
Cultural Communications

In 1996, I coordinated and directed a series of summer Enrichment Camps for the Frederick County Parks and Recreation Department (FCPRD) in Winchester, Virginia. One of the more popular of these camps was entitled Outdoor Adventurers and was compromised of rock climbing, paddling, team building and outdoor skills. Billy Wilken supervised this program for FCPRD through the Mid Atlantic Challenge School

Billy is an extraordinarily creative educator and highly motivated leader. His natural ability to interact effectively and positively influence children is remarkable! He demonstrates the highest level of professionalism and knowledge, not only of the skills compromising the Outdoor Adventurers Camp, but of being able to challenge and inspire large groups of children of diverse ages, backgrounds and needs. FCPRD was truly grateful to Billy Wilken for the summer he spent with so many of "our community children". More so, for the memories he left behind for each of those children!

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