IRF XXIV World Junior Racquetball Championships
November 11-17, 2012
by Cheryl Kirk
The Coaching Staff at the Junior Worlds is second to none; they are the US Team’s secret weapon here at the competition. It all starts with Head Coach Kelley Beane from NH (see interview below). She has assembled an all-star staff – Cheryl Gudinas (IL), Jen Meyer (CO), RO Carson (CA), Jim Hiser (CO), Marcus Riggins (GA), Nick Montalbano (NY), and Shannon Inglesby (OR). Dr. Joyce Parsons (NH) is the team’s Trainer.
INTERVIEW WITH COACH KELLEY
I caught up with Kelley Beane, US Junior Team Head Coach, early Tuesday morning at breakfast as she began the third of seven marathon days that occupy her and her assistant coaches’ time, an estimated 19/7 through Saturday when the competition concludes. As we talked, other coaches and US Team members cycled in and out of the breakfast room provided by the hotel solely for this event.
Q: How do you feel about the team spirit of the US Juniors?
A: What we’ve produced and developed over the years, when an athlete’s playing, their teammates are there to encourage them. Everyone wants the same end result.
This year, the players are supporting each other to the highest level I’ve ever seen. Each player has a strong sense of belonging. No one holds a higher value than anyone else. The 14-year-old girl is as important as the 18 boys. We’re a team, everyone is equal.
The camp at the USOC Training Center in August in Colorado Springs made a tremendous difference in helping them to identify what they needed to work on from then to now. Fifteeen individuals arrived and a team departed.
Q: Tell us about your coaching staff?
A: It’s about assembling a staff that is better than I am at everything we do. One of the best things I’ve done is to put people in place from young to old(er), male to female that covers all the bases. You put the best people with the players. I don’t think other countries are developing younger coaches. You bring in these great people like Shannon Inglesby and Nick Montalbano. They pay their own way in, miss work and school, they want so much to help and be a part of the team. When Shane Wood wasn’t able to make the trip, Nick came out here. They have a new appreciation for what the coaches go through.
Q: What does a typical day look like there at the Junior Worlds?
A: Up at 5:30, work out, and meet for breakfast. We do our coaches’ meetings in the morning when we’re fresh. Check in at the club for 9 am matches, back at the hotel around 8 pm. Some years it’s 10 or 11 pm…
Then it’s dinner with the team, all together, cramming into a room. We go over questions, reflections, and what concerns them the most. You get some insight to where everybody’s at in his or her mindset. All the coaches go over the day. Joyce the trainer speaks, the captains speak. (Note: Coach Kelly makes up laminated cards with inspirational quotes for each day of the tournament and gives them to the team every evening of the competition – a nice touch!)
Q: How do your view the experience over the years as an Assistant Coach and Head Coach in the “international arena”?
A: Hats off to the IRF. From when I started as an Assistant in 1998 for the US Adult Team to being Head Coach, the respect and camaraderie has increased amongst the attendees around the world. In the last four years, I have seen such an improvement in fair play, respect, and support of Olympic ideals. I consider all these coaches around the world my friends now. It’s worldwide here and so great to see them. You’re happy for their results, too (well, for the most part!).
LET’S HEAR A FEW OTHER THOUGHTS FROM THE COACHES…
Jen Meyer of Fruita, CO, teaches 4th grade at Shelledy Elementary School. She has been a huge asset for the US Junior Team over a number of years. Kelley Beane shares, “Coach Jen gets the younger players ready for the World Cup Team. She takes care of the 8’s, 10’s, and 12’s. They have their own little tournament (Esprit Cup) with their own coach. She makes it fun, brings little goodie bags for the kids, etc. They get the “Coach Jen Experience” and at the same time can see what it’s like to be an older team player. At 14, they get to go to camp and join the World Cup Team. We couldn’t do any better than Jen.”
Dr. Joyce Parsons of New Hampshire is a Doctor of Physical Therapy with a Masters in Education, and a CSCS (strength and conditioning) certification. Joyce described her role here with the US Junior Team: “I’m here for immediate emergency care and rehabilitative services throughout the competition for wear-and-tear including pre and post care, nutrition, hydration, muscular-skeletal work, warm-ups, and cool-downs. I’ve been to five World events with the Junior Team. I’m here because of my friendship with Kelley; we met when we worked at the same club. My specialty is Sports Medicine, and I’m an Assistant Professor at a local university in NH. She continued, “I meet the whole team at the camp. We keep in contact by email. Sometimes parents call. We build our relationship that way. We have nightly meetings. With the older players, they definitely take advantage of what I bring. The younger ones can be intimidated, but they see their role models do it, and then they’re more inclined to come over. They are strongly encouraged to use me. If USA Racquetball brings me out here, they should use me! It’s a generous service USAR provides.
“I don’t play the sport. I’ve never been in this kind of situation where people nationally and internationally come together to compete. I’ve always been a local athlete. I’m so impressed with all the kids who compete at this level, how mature they are -- you can see it in their eyes. They’re worldly, and they do great things with their lives because of this experience. The reason I do this is because of how the coaches interact with the kids -- it’s like going to Disney World every day! I get so much more out of this experience than the kids get out of me. If I were 40 years younger, I’d want to do this. I come across the most amazing people. The people in this organization and sport are amazing, the most giving people I’ve ever met in my life.”
Nick Montalbano, a New York native, is in his third year attending Colorado State University, Pueblo, majoring in business management. In the Dominican Republic last year, he was Gold medalist in 18- Doubles with Josh Hungerford and placed third in 18 singles. That was his fourth year on the US Junior Team and his third gold medal. “I just wanted to help make the other kids’ dreams come true like coaches have done for me in the past. We were short on coaches, so I wanted to come out and help as much as possible. I’m here for the whole week.” What does Nick’s typical day look like? “I go and get in a quick workout 6 am, playing on the court or in the hotel gym. Then I have breakfast with coaches and team. We go over player assignments, head over to the club and ensure every kid has what he needs for his match: water, warm-up, towels, check in for the match on time. When they are assigned to a court, we go with them to their court, coach through the match, and afterward go up to Joyce and get a good cool-down and stretch. We make sure they know their next match time. At other times, scout other countries’ players and report back. After the day is over, we go back to the hotel, then it’s a quick dinner and team meeting to discuss what happened during the day. Our coaches’ meeting is afterward where we discuss how the day went and the assignments for the next day. We’re in bed usually by 11:30. The next day…repeat!
“Our mantra this week is, ‘Protect This House.” That means, we’re competing here in the US, let’s make our country proud!”