The Eighth Man

A Proactive Step Towards a Standing Team USA

Earlier today, USQ announced two new volunteer positions in Team USA leadership–the first two year-round positions ever created for the United States National Team.

The National Team Coordinator will be responsible for the logistical work of Team USA, including fundraising, public relations and travel logistics for tournaments and training camps, while the Head Coach will run practices and training camps, manage games and work with the National Team Coordinator to finalize rosters for international competitions.

To see why this is a solution capable of breeding success, we first need to go back and look at what went so wrong for Team USA 2016. As much as we, as a community, like to try to make the failure to win gold last year about individual bad decisions, strategic mistakes or poorly executed plays, none of those factors alone could have bridged the massive gap competitively between Team USA and the rest of the world entering the tournament.

Instead, the problems that led to the downfall of that team were systematic. Most of those who oversaw the formation of Team USA 2016 were doing so as a secondary responsibility. Sarah Woolsey served in a similar role to the new National Team Coordinator, but did so while also serving as the Executive Director of the entire league. The team was selected by a committee made up largely of Regional Coordinators, whose main focus was rightfully on running their own regions and who did not need the added responsibility of a heaping pile of tryout tapes and applications. The coaches were only given the opportunity to have one meeting during US Quidditch Cup 10 and a day of practice in Germany to prepare the team. And with no organized, long-term fundraising campaign for those in charge of Team USA to point to, many elite talents chose not to even apply to avoid pricey travel fees.

These new positions seek to change all that. First of all, we get two volunteers within USQ whose entire job it is to manage the inner workings of Team USA for the full two-year period between Global Games. This means no long periods of silence on the Team USA front and the opportunity to put the time into smaller matters–like training camps and exhibition matches–that have previously gone uninvestigated but could make all of the difference.

It also means a coach that has two years to research their potential players and work with them to become a coherent unit. Last year, the Team USA coaches were only picked slightly before the final roster. They had no opportunity to assess the talent, figure out the best way that talent could be utilized within a team game plan and then select a roster that maximized the ability to play that game plan. That all changes now. The new Team USA coach can bring players in for training camps and can–over time–craft not a group of individual talents, but a true team.

With the role of National Team Coordinator also comes the institution of a full-time Team USA fundraising head. The Team USA brand is incredibly popular across all sports–just think about the weird and wacky sports we buy into every two years during the Olympics–but outside of the biannual selling of jerseys it has remained an untapped resource in quidditch, both in terms of merchandise and media coverage. Bring us t-shirts. Bring us bro tanks. Bring us snapbacks. Bring us news crews. And, most importantly, bring us the funds and attention that will make playing for Team USA accessible for anyone who deserves it.

Losing the gold medal at the 2016 Global Games to Australia, a team that had prepped for that match for months, was a wake-up call for the Team USA program. The world as a whole is moving towards standing national teams which exist throughout the year and it was our obligation, as no longer the champions of the world, to follow. And while there are many steps the Team USA program could still take in that regard, including additional organization funding funneled in, today’s announcement was undoubtedly a massive step in the right direction.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *