2017-18 has been an interesting venture for Floorball Guru. In the winter of 2017 I was announced as part of the coaching staff, along with Patrick Jesue out of Michigan, and Pekka Nuutila from Finland, and GM Anders Buvarp for the USA U19 Women’s Floorball Team. The team had already qualified for the 8th World Floorball Championships in Switzerland. Needless to say I was very excited for the opportunity. A few years earlier I had the opportunity to play for the USA Men’s team in Riga, Latvia, which eventually helped push me to start Floorball Guru. I can tell you that being a coach of anything is a challenge, but when you’re trying to find player and build a sport that’s not widely played in your country it’s a tall order. While Floorball is growing and more people are getting involved it’s still built on a grassroots movement. Compounding the challenge is a lack of female players playing the sport in the US specifically.
To build our team we relied on past players, but also seeking out new players and teaching them the sport. While not an ideal situation the long term goal was to build a team while building a long term plan to attract new players. Thankfully there are a number of wonderful and dedicated people around the country and internationally who have helped us along the way. In the end we were able to put together a team that can compete with an eye to future. I honestly think that we’re on the verge of some great things happening in the sport throughout North America. I’m grateful to have the chance to volunteer my time and work with some amazing people, coaches, and players.
Finding players wasn’t the only challenge we faced. With the current layout of the USA Floorball Association all players have to pay their way. This isn’t uncommon for many amateur sports, but when the majority of your competitions are 3,000 miles away things get expensive fast. Simple getting the team together to train, get equipment, apparel, hotels, food, fees, etc. It’s not cheap. We have to rely a lot on the generosity of friends, family, and strangers who donate to the cause. Back in November the U19 women’s staff made a concerted effort to find and attract corporate sponsors to help defray costs, but to also join us as we continue to build things in the US. All of this together is what makes these experiences happen.
Leading up to the tournament the coaching staff spent a lot of time finalizing details, working on our marketing strategy, and built our fan base of supporters. What I’ve found is that there are so many people around the world rooting for each other. It’s been a neat experience to figure out how this all works when our staff and players are scattered across the State, and Internationally. I couldn’t wait to get to the tournament and take it all in. In the end it was an amazing experience and one that I am using to continue to grow Floorball in the US. While we didn’t get the results we wanted I couldn’t have asked for a better group of players and staff to work with. I feel that through this experience we are another step closer to our goals.