In the short period of my life I’ve been blessed to have had so many very different opportunities to experience the world. I’ve done a number of things in and out of the sports world from coaching, playing, traveling the world, to being a husband and father. Life to me comes with many opportunities that can be taken or left aside. I’ve tried hard to step outside of myself and seize opportunities as they come. In many cases those opportunities could lead to failure, and while I’d prefer to succeed there is a lot to be learned through failure. One such opportunity that I’ve embrace is being part of the coaching staff for the USA U19 Women’s Floorball team. Thankfully it was something I didn’t have to do alone and as far as staffing goes I lucked out with some of the best people that all complimented each other.
The GM Anders Buvarp based out of Colorado Springs, CO. was the one to give me chance to coach the team leading up to the U19 Women’s World Floorball Championships in Switzerland. The focus at the time was to build a coaching staff that complemented each other’s strengths and weaknesses. In steps Patrick Jesue from Detroit MI, who has extensive knowledge, training, and coaching working within USA Hockey; and a more recent convert in his love of Floorball.
This was by far a challenging task on its own because we’re all over the place, and we’re trying to find and train players to compete at a high level who are also located all over the place. On top of that we had to figure out how we were going to find sponsors to help subsidize the coaches and players costs to travel and compete.
As a staff we spent months prepping finding players, and prepping for the tournament. As we got closer we got lucky by a new addition to the staff. To round out our coaching staff we added Pekka Nuutila from Finland as our goalie coach. His knowledge and expertise became vital for us all throughout the tournament. With everything in place we headed to Zurich. It’s hard enough coaching a new team, but compound that in a new country with new players, and building all of that together in a very short time. Our focus from the beginning was team bonding, and building in tactical game plans. Overall I feel like we did a great job as a team coming together leading up to the tournament. We had challenges along the way, but were able to overcome them many of which we couldn’t have planned for.
I’ve played and coached some big games and been in front of crowds, but this was a totally different experience. For one, being able to do so representing my country was a huge honor. Secondly, the atmosphere produced throughout the tournament somewhat surprised me in a good way. I remember when USA was playing Austria, it was tight game going back and forth and when the game was 6-4 we called a timeout to regroup. In true fashion the Austrian fans ramped up the noise right behind our bench. The place was smaller but was packed out at about 400 people and the noise they made was deafening. I was screaming as loud as I could hoping the players could hear the needed direction. Needless to say the timeout worked because we scored shortly after. From that point we put the pressure on, but weren’t able to get another goal in as time ran out. To me that was a bit of the tournament theme. Just missing out on opportunities. Putting in the effort, but not quite getting the results.
In the end the USA took last place with a 0-3-1 record. It was hard to not be defeated by that result. However, I’m proud of the work the staff did during that time, and the effort the team put in during the tournament. I wished we had two years of regular practice with that team leading up to the tournament. Things would have been different. We heard that Austria had played 22 games leading up to the tournament. We had played 1 as a team when we played them and almost beat them. I take that with me. At the very least I might be disappointed with the result but I can’t be disappointed with trying.
I learned a lot through the process, as I know the other coaches did about how we can make positive strides going forward. I hope the players learned something that they can take with them in their lives. At the very least the experience has only fueled the fire to continue to work as the coaching staff prepares for the 2020 WFC in Sweden. We have many of the same challenges ahead as we work to find, prepare, and train our players.