(Photo: Adam Troy)
Every year the United States Floorball Association hosts the US Nationals Floorball Tournament. This year the tournament was hosted in San Jose, CA at the Silver Creek SportsPlex. The facility was a great location to host such an event, and in my mind sets the bar for future locations. The US Nationals Tournament is also paired with a US National Team training camp. This year the Coaches from the USA Men’s Floorball team (Stefan Hedlund, and Joel Olofsson) and USA Men’s Floorball player and MVP of the World Championships (Robin Brown) were there to train and teach prospective players for the US National Teams. While time was spent working on training and skill development, a significant amount of time was focused on better understanding the game. All of this served the players well moving into the tournament.
The US Nationals Tournament had eight teams from Reno, Menlo Park, San Francisco, San Jose, a mixed team with players from Colorado, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin, and an all-women’s team. I was on the multi-state team and I was excited to play with such a diverse group of people. I was also asked if I would be willing to coach the all-women’s team, which I gladly accepted. Given the current set position of Floorball in the US we’re normally converting players from other sports to play Floorball. With that conversion comes a learning curve for all players. In fact some of the women players were pulling double duty on other teams. In the end while many players played 3-4 games a day they were playing 6-8.
I wasn’t sure what to expect on the first day with the team. We had many new players, and various ages on the team. At the same time they’re going up against more experienced players and teams. Going into the first day I spent most of my time working with the team on defensive positioning. Building on the lesson from Stefan Hedlund’s instruction the day before, we focused on playing the percentages. He’s statistically found that 70% or more of goals are scored in the middle of the court. Given the competition we knew we weren’t necessarily going to out run them, so we had to be smarter. In the development of the team the focus was not on the score, but on finding the little things that player were doing right and getting them to focus on that. Each period of each game our goal was to be a little bit better as a group. In the second game the girls showed progress and were able push forward and attack. They created chances and worked well as a unit. In the end it served them well. Going into the teams last game the focus was on playing well, but they really wanted to win. In the end the team did come out on top against a good team from Reno, NV. In that game we lost half of our subs, but they worked hard and came out on top.
I couldn’t have been happier for the team. To end the tournament on a win was a great end to the weekend as a team. They worked hard, they learned, the listened. As a coach all you can ask is that players be willing to learn, try, and perform. They were coachable. This is a skill that is lost on many. They put their heads down and worked hard. As the only all-women’s team in the tournament they showed what they could do. It is my hope that they are the start of something bigger. Through them more women would see Floorball as a fun and exciting sport. Hopefully we’ll start seeing more and more all-women’s Floorball teams compete at tournaments.