Last week, for a couple of days, I was in the San Diego Chula Vista Olympic Training Center and had the opportunity to participate in a number of events oriented toward elite team and athlete development. Included in my schedule was meeting the women's national team (a collection of refined, well educated, and motivated athletes), visiting the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center (OTC) High Performance staff (also refined, highly motivated...and, well educated), and renewing acquaintances from years past with Tracy Lamb, director of the OTC, and his associate Dave Stowe (Dave is an extremely competent guy who has been at the Chula Vista site since its inception; I met Tracy Lamb years ago when he was at the Lake Placid, New York OTC; he has obviously advanced himself through his considerable talents). A little more on Tracy and Dave later in this report.
During my visit with Terry Walsh, who as High Performance Technical Director oversees the entire High Performance and pipeline development programming for USA Field Hockey, I was keen to see some of the technology employed by our coaches. Terry patiently took me through the regimen of technology used and the one software piece that particularly impressed me was one that Terry has developed over the years. Using that particular technology enables Terry and his coaching staff to determine trends of any particular team, graphically peg weak and strong areas both within our teams and our competition, and to study existing player motion technique plus what may become more advanced technique through the sport's evolution. It was fascinating. What was even of more interest was that the software could apply to almost any sport. Terry's program has been duplicated in other genres of sport, but not to the sophistication levels he created for field hockey and that he now uses. It is great to be cutting edge, and the application of software use for measurable analysis certainly beats the seat of the pants approach to coaching that I experienced growing up.
Now back to Tracy and Dave; you are undoubtedly aware that USA Field Hockey in hosting a FIH World Cup Qualifier at Chula Vista later this year. Typically, no matter the sport, these sorts of events can be quite expensive, and this event is typical. It will be expensive. In fact, within our budget we show a $137K loss*(see below), and we are in the process of chipping away at that amount even with the date approaching in March. Our circumstance within the USA is that we do not receive governmental subsidy for international events. As mentioned in a previous weekly report, most Olympic associations throughout the world receive a governmental largess for underwriting their teams' activities and staging events. It surprises many people from abroad and even from within this country that sport does not receive US Federal funding or, for that matter, generally any type of governmental contribution. We are reliant on what we can raise as an organization. So is the United States Olympic Committee.
During the course of my visit last week to Chula Vista, we had a conference call with the personalities engaged in presenting the FIH World Cup Qualifier. They included Laura Darling (General Manager), Terry Walsh, Kate Reisinger (Director of High Performance), Tracy Lamb and Dave Stowe (both from the Chula Vista OTC), and myself. The purpose of the call was to precisely determine who was paying for what (USA Field Hockey or the United States Olympic Committee). Bear in mind that both organizations operate with a very thin margin. Without going through the detail of it all, both Tracy and Dave stepped up and are generously providing many items typically they would not in event production. We are grateful and, indeed, as we approach London and its Olympic Games, we are specifically grateful to the USOC for their greater investment into field hockey. All in all, we can underline that the USOC's willingness to invest in field hockey to a greater extent than in the past has to do with the performances of our teams and the competence of our high performance group.
At this point, it seems apropos to mention the importance of our sponsor partners. Simon Hoskins serves USA Field Hockey as our Director of Marketing and does magnificent work. He recognizes that in each case of our development of a sponsor partnership that we must convince business owners the importance of USA Field Hockey and also look toward helping them receive a realistic return on their investment through their relationship with us. Each of our partners are extremely important to us. Take a look at the first part of this report and it becomes even more evident of their importance. Likewise, it is important for us to look after their well-being and to support each sponsor partner at every turn. With that in mind, we will be prospecting ways to enhance relationships measurably for all of our partners in numerous ways and often with a custom relationship in mind. The bottom line is that they each must sell product. And, we must help them. The quid pro quo is obvious. But in today's report, I just wanted to offer a thank you to every sponsor-partner involved. In subsequent weekly reports, and through other media outlets used by USA Field Hockey, you are going to be learning a lot more about our partners; they are an eclectic group who are all passionate about the sport and their products.
This Friday I will be traveling to Orlando to attend the Disney Field Hockey Showcase, and to attend my first USA Field Hockey Board meeting. I look forward to both.
And, finally, in a topic that has nothing to do with field hockey, it has been interesting to observe the soap opera-ness of late night television, Craig Ferguson joins the fray.....
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: It's a sad day for American literature. The legendary author J.D. Salinger passed away at the age of 91. Well, come on, he was 91. After he wrote "Catcher in the Rye," Salinger was best known for becoming a recluse. He was famous for wanting not to be famous. He retreated to a farm in New Hampshire and refused to do any publicity. In America, he disappeared. It was as if he had his own show at 12:30 on CBS.
Have a great week!
*You may have a little sticker shock over this deficit number. I did, too. A lot of this has to do with international competition, and especially having international competition on your own soil (there is always a home advantage). It is critical for the USA to have a team compete in FIH World Cup. However, only 12 teams can make the grade and making the grade means qualifying. Hence the FIH World Cup Qualifier at Chula Vista. When conducting these events, the host country must sign a contract with the international federation (FIH) and meet certain standards. Standards (meeting international field of play requirements) can add up in a financial sense. So, in weighing the advantage of having the competition on home soil and meeting the financial obligations can create short term angst. However, if the team finds itself qualified and in the top 12 countries eligible to compete in the FIH World Cup, USA Field Hockey will realize long term gain not only in meeting our mission to have top caliber international teams, but in a financial sense in becoming more meaningful to sponsor partners.