One of the things I wanted to accomplish on this preseason trip was getting to know the players a lot more and get a better feeling of what the squad was about. I believe I am making good progress so far.
We are staying at a first-class facility in Casa Grande, Arizona, which is situated in the middle of nowhere. This means we get to share quality time together as a team, which was probably what the coaching staff were looking for. This camp has allows the team to bond quickly and get off to a fast start.
Each day at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I sit at a table with the same people. These are not players, but staff who are every bit as important. As in most organizations, they are very rarely heard from, but are vitally important in making the club successful in so many ways.
Graeme Poole is the physiotherapist and has been with the club since 2009. Jake Joachim is the head athletic trainer and came to us after six years of service with Real Salt Lake. Steve Ramsbottom is the strength and conditioning specialist, who also runs the Performance Institute in Burnaby, BC. Ed Georgica comes to the club after working with the BC Lions and Vancouver Canucks and is the head equipment manager. Andrew Lichtenfels is the assistant equipment manager and was team manager for three years at Calgary Foothills Soccer Club. Ryan Kellins, meanwhile, has worked in our soccer development department and now is the team administrator.
It has been such a unique experience sitting at the dining table and watching these staff members interact, seeing how professionally they do their job, and seeing how much they really care about the club. I have talked before about how the coaching staff has looked for character players to mold the team. The same can be said of the staff that has been recruited to the team. They all realize that if they do their jobs well, then the coaching staff and the players will have no other distractions, and can concentrate on putting a winning team on the field.
On a side note, I played my first staff game on Thursday evening and ended up on the losing team, but I don’t think I showed the rest of the staff my second of two moves that I have always had.