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High-Performance Coaches + Experienced Camp Professionals

Our Team

We are a dedicated team of high performance coaches, nurturing & exemplary counselors, and experienced camp professionals, passionate about the ‘whole athlete’.

Outside of sports specific training sessions, AC is distinguished in delivering programming focused on its pillars of Performance, Wellness, and Athlete Mindset mixed in with a healthy dose of fun through a daily schedule of traditional sleepaway camp activities.

Meet Our Directors

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Michael Maurillo

Executive Director

Michael Maurillo is the Executive Director of Academy Camps. A New York native, Mike played four years of Division 1 Lacrosse at Fairfield University and was team captain his senior year. Mike spent over 2 decades in the Advertising and Health & Wellness sector. More than a year ago, he began his transition to the camp and coaching world by taking on the Executive Director role at Academy Camps. He is extremely active in youth sports as a member of the Westport PAL Lacrosse Board and as a coach for his local lacrosse, basketball and flag football teams.

Mike resides in Westport, Connecticut with his wife Jen and their 2 boys. Jen, a former varsity soccer player at the University of Michigan, is a Senior Vice President for Major League Soccer.

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Alison Heisler

Director of Camp Life

Alison brings experience deeply rooted in athletics and wellness to her role as Director of Camp Life.

A graduate of Colgate University, she was 4 year Varsity Lacrosse player for the Division 1 Raiders and team captain her senior year. The mother of 4 grown children, Alison has always been immersed in youth sports as a coach, administrator and fan. Her oldest was a 4 year Varsity Lacrosse Player at Lafayette and her youngest is a current member of the Colby College Men’s Varsity Lacrosse Team.

A Yoga instructor for 15 years, Alison has a background in applied positive psychology, resilience skills and mindfulness. She also has an impressive track record of high performance across diverse industries including media, nonprofit, biotech and executive coaching.

Alison resides in Westport, CT with her husband and her passions include hiking and skiing. She also volunteers in support of military veterans and students in underserved communities. Alison brings a great energy and maternal instincts as a vital member of The AC leadership team!

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Courtney Grady

Director of Operations & Programs

As Academy Camps’ Director of Operations and Programs, Courtney brings a big passion for camp and a diverse professional background to the team.

Courtney has dedicated her career to creating transformational learning experiences for children and young adults - from language learning and study abroad programs to summer camp. She spent 9 summers growing from camper, to CIT, to senior counselor at a traditional residential summer camp up in Northern Wisconsin. She was also the Senior National Program Manager at Experience Camps, a non-profit organization that provides free, one-week camps to children who have lost a parent or sibling. While there she managed the people, processes, and systems required to deliver the camp experience to over 1,400 campers, staff, and volunteers across 10 programs and implemented scalable systems to set the organization up for accelerated growth.

Prior to joining the camp world full-time, she drove a constellation of projects at EF Education First in the higher education study abroad division. These projects spanned all areas of the business requireing her to wear many hats impacting 360 degrees of the business. No matter the role or task at hand, she’s always focused on the people in front of her.

Courtney resides in Somerville, Massachusetts and makes the most of her off-season time by traveling to visit friends and family. Her passion for camp runs deep and extends beyond the office: she hosts an annual “camp weekend” where she invites friends to celebrate, play get-to-know-you games, compete in Camp Olympics, and bring the camp magic to life.

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Tim Eldredge

Director of Growth

Tim Eldredge is the Director of Growth for Academy Camps and will help guide our team as we work towards offering the AC experience to as many young athletes as possible.

Tim began his career in children’s summer camping where he led Staffing and Communications at Camp Laurel in Maine for 8 years. Prior to joining Academy Camps, Tim served as the Director of Finance and Operations at Next Generation Men & Women, where he scaled the nonprofit program to serve over 600 high school students across Metro Atlanta. He is an active member of his community and serves on the Board of Directors for East Atlanta Kids Club.

A high school basketball standout, Tim was raised in Portland, Oregon and is a University of Oregon graduate. He resides in Atlanta, GA with his wife Kristen and daughter Romi. Kristen and Tim met at camp, so camp runs in the family! Kristen is a children’s yoga teacher and community director at a local wellness studio.

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Dan Fabi

Residential Life Director

As the Residential Life Director, Dan’s mission is to empower every AC athlete to achieve their goals. With an infectious enthusiasm often described as “camp counselor energy,” Dan brings unmatched passion to the AC experience.

A jack of all trades, Dan dives into every aspect of camp life, always willing to take on any challenge or game (especially pickleball, where he’s practically invincible). Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling, Dan sets the standard for our human-centered approach to camp, ensuring each athlete maximizes their time on and off the field/court.

With 5 years of dedicated volunteer work at Experience Camps and entering his sixth year as an Associate Program Director, Dan’s commitment to the camp community shines brightly.

In the winter months, Dan calls Brooklyn home with his girlfriend, Hannah, and their dynamic feline duo, Tuna and Bean. And for those who dare, last summer’s pickleball challenge still stands: beat Dan and earn yourself a free milkshake from the Snack Shack. Dan says bring it on!

Meet Our Coaches

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Director of Soccer

Rick Warren

Coach Rick Warren brings vast knowledge and expertise to the AC Team as our Director of Soccer. With an extensive collegiate and prep school coaching background, Rick also holds his National Soccer Coaches Association of America Premier Diploma and a USSF Coaching License. In addition to his coaching achievements, Rick is also a former member of the Jamaican Youth National Team.

At Suffield Academy, Rick’s resume speaks for itself. He has amassed nearly 150 career wins and numerous accolades, including being named Connecticut’s Large Preparatory High School Coach of the Year. Rick also serves as the President of the New England Prep School Soccer Association (NEPSAC).

Rick’s passion, enthusiasm, and love of the game are unmatched, making him the perfect person to lead The Academy Camps Soccer Program.

Rick and his wife Liz, Suffield Academy’s Cultural Diversity Director, are the proud parents of four boys.

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Director of Basketball

Nadir Samih

Connecticut native Nadir Samih joins the leadership ranks of Academy Camps in ’24 as our Director of Basketball!

(Coach Mike Evans will continue to be part of the AC coaching team with a focus on shooting sessions for all our basketball athletes throughout the summer.)

Coach Nadir’s extensive hoops background comes through a myriad of forms. High School & Collegiate Player & Coach. Camp Director. Tournament Director. Teacher. Mentor. Forever a student of the game, his philosophy is to lead athletes, coaches, and those he comes across towards self discovery while prioritizing forward movement.

Coach Nadir currently is the Assistant Coach for the University of St. Joseph’s Women’s Basketball Team. Prior to joining St. Joseph’s, he served as the lead Assistant for the Division II Post University Team.

He is also a seasoned Camp Director - having served as a Site Director for the renowned PGC Basketball Camps, as well as, Next Level Academy. A collegiate player at Mercy College, Coach Nadir was a Point Guard in his playing days - no surprise based on his charisma, energy and innate leadership skills.

A true product of the Connecticut Basketball landscape, Nadir has worked camps and clinics throughout the nutmeg state with basketball royalty Jim Calhoun, as well as UCONN standouts Shabazz Napier, Kelly Farris, Nykeshia Sales and Kevin Ollie, among others.

Coach Nadir’s vast background as a player and collegiate coach only tells half the story. Having honed his coaching skills in many arenas, he is a rising star in the northeast coaching ranks. In addition to PGC, Nadir has served as the Tournament and Showcase Director for the Hoop Group and Zero Gravity Basketball.

His resume is impressive - but it’s his on court enthusiasm, heart, and precision-like approach to coaching which sets him apart. Coach Nadir knows how to teach others how to think the game and develop their passion.

Welcome to the AC Family, Coach Nadir!

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Director of Tennis

Symeon Siomopoulos

Symeon Siomopoulos has been a force on the international tennis scene for over 30 years. A graduate of the University of Athens, Coach “Simos” also has a Masters Degree in Sports Psychology from the University of Miami, Ohio and a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Athens.

His tennis teaching credentials speak for themselves. Coach Simos holds a diploma of the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) and coached the women’s Division I program at Miami of Ohio. From 2011 to 2021, he was the Head Technical Director of the Deree Athletic Tennis Club & Academy located in Athens, Greece. He also held the position of Sports Psychology Consultant of Tennis at the former Nick Bollettieri Academy in Florida. Simos is the former coach of the Greek National Junior team (ages 12-18). In this role, he led Greece’s top junior players in the European Championships.

Enthusiasm, repetition and mental “toughness” highlight Coach Simos’ on-court teaching approach and his experience in Sports Psychology complements his seasoned tennis teaching acumen.

Currently an associate professor at The American College of Greece, Simos teaches University level courses in the fields of Sports Psychology and Coaching. Growing up, Simos was a decorated and highly ranked junior tennis player. During the winter months, he resides in Athens, Greece with his wife, a renowned interior designer, and their 2 children.

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Director of Boys Lacrosse

Colin Bannon

Westport, Connecticut native Colin Bannon joins Academy Camps as the Director of Boys Lacrosse for Summer 2024!

Coach Bannon is one of the most sought after personal lacrosse coaches in Fairfield County and consistently sends high school lacrosse athletes to compete at the Division 1 level. Colin is a three time collegiate All-American and second leading point scorer for Endicott College. He has been playing lacrosse since he was 5 years old, playing for Staples High School and started all four years at the attack/midfield position for the Endicott Gulls. Returning back to his alma mater in 2019, Colin coached the Staples Wreckers for four years, helping them secure their first state title in school history in 2022, followed by another in 2023. Coach Bannon has coached for the Eclipse Lacrosse Club and is now the Head Lacrosse Coach at Fairfield Country Day School.

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Director of Girls Lacrosse

Cristina Vélez

Cristina Vélez joins the leadership ranks of Academy Camps in ‘24 as our Director of Girls Lacrosse!

Coach Vélez has been involved with lacrosse for over two decades, reaching the highest level of sport both on and off the field, working for the International Federation, World Lacrosse, competing as a national team athlete for Spain and coaching team Brazil. With a Bachelor’s degree in Health and Exercise Science from Skidmore College and a Masters in Education from the Universidad de Alcalá, Coach Vélez brings an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience to Academy Camps.

Coach Vélez is a bilingual, dual citizen of the US and Spain. A New Hampshire native, she grew up playing lacrosse in the US and moved to Madrid in 2012 where she has been involved with international lacrosse ever since. As an athlete, she still plays in the Spanish Liga and has competed for the Spanish Women’s National Team. She served as Spain’s very first Director of Development launching and coaching youth and adult teams all over the country.

She later served as a Sport Development Manager for World Lacrosse, managing the regions of Europe and the Americas, launching new countries like Uruguay and Brazil and coaching all over the world in places like Costa Rica, Colombia, Malta, Germany and Portugal. As the Co-Founder of Brazil Lacrosse, she continues to help coach and develop the sport, spending months at a time volunteering in Brazil. She is currently the only woman to be the Head Coach of a men’s National Lacrosse team, coaching the Seleção Brasileira.

Coach Vélez is a 15 year alum of YMCA Camp Huckins, as a camper and a counselor, and her love of summer camp, infectious positive attitude and comprehensive coaching paired with her vast experience and educational background make her a true standout for Academy Camps!

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Bryan Brissette

Director of Wellness

As Director of Wellness, Bryan Brissette brings an all-star resume and diverse background to the AC Team.

Bryan attended Harvard, graduating as a member of the Dean’s List. While in Cambridge, he was a member of the Crimson Varsity Baseball Team for four years and was an All-Ivy catcher. After Harvard, he earned a master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Northeastern University and a master’s in History from Trinity in West Hartford, CT.

Before joining the Suffield Faculty, Bryan served as a United States Secret Service Special Agent. Today as the current Head Varsity Baseball Coach at Suffield, an emphasis on Wellness has become his passion and a pillar of Bryan’s approach to coaching.

Meditation, Yoga, Breathwork, and Visualization will comprise his summer curriculum as we take it to the next level for all AC campers. Bryan and his wife Chrissy are the proud parents of a daughter.

Meet Our Founders

We’re the founders of Academy Camps, three life-long campers, counselors & full-time camp directors. We’re passionate about Athletics too.

While the three of us are not front and center at Academy Camps, we work closely behind the scenes with Michael and the team, sharing our knowledge, passion and industry know-how.

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Jon Deren
Camp Manitou
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Josh Hahn
Camp Somerset
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Jem Sollinger
Camp Laurel

Jon Deren

Jon Deren has been the owner and director of Camp Manitou for Boys since 1998, never having left since he arrived as a camper in 1987. Jon was a collegiate skier at Tufts and received his MBA from Columbia University. Jon served on the Board of Directors for the American Camping Association – NY/NJ Section and is active on several ACA committees. During the year, Jon lives in Westport, CT with his wife Sara, and their 3 children.

Josh Hahn

Josh Hahn is the co-owner and Director of Camp Somerset for Girls in Smithfield, Maine, which he rebuilt and reopened in 2018 after being closed for more than 30 years. He was also the founding program director of Experience Camps, a non-profit organization that provides free, one-week camps to children who have lost a parent or sibling. Originally from Newton, Massachusetts, Josh spent 16 summers at camp in Maine. He graduated from Emory University and spent 15 years in the restaurant business in Washington, D.C. before moving to full-time camping. When not in Maine, Josh lives in Miami Beach with his husband, Adam.

Jem Sollinger

Jem Sollinger is the Managing Partner and Director of Camp Laurel. His history and career at Laurel spans over 35 years as he rose the ranks from camper, to counselor, to director and owner. Comprised of 520 campers and 300 staff, Jem’s leadership, boundless energy and attention to detail has established Laurel as a leader in the camping industry. An All New England soccer player in high school, Jem is a graduate of Union College where he was a four-year varsity soccer player and captain of the Alpine ski team. Jem is the President of The Top of the Hill Team, an organization comprised of parents and alumni that provides the Staples Boys Soccer program (his alma mater) with supplemental resources needed to remain one of the leading programs in the state. Jem is also a former member of the Board of Maine Summer Camps, Maine Youth Camping Association and Temple B’nai Chaim in Georgetown, Connecticut. Jem lives in Weston, CT with his wife Debbie and their 3 daughters.