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It's chilly at night… there's some light rain, but Junior Team Manager, Doug Eley, reports that Junior Team USA practices in Portimao, Portugal are going fine. Doug's job as team manager includes everything from checking weather conditions to determine the correct gear for the day, to finding out whether floor conditions match the needs of our skaters and their equipment, or getting the skaters to the right place at the right time to eat the correct thing.
He was glad to note that although the skating surface in the competition venue initially felt slippery to many of our team members, by the second practice day everyone's wheels were adjusting to the floor and providing a tight, more comfortable response as they skate. Some of the dance skaters are using all Formula 88’s for compulsories and free dance, but Doug knows that wheels are very personal to each skater and just does what he can to encourage them to relax, listen to coaches and seek that much-needed comfort zone for their events.
As Team Manager, Doug is also responsible for organizing and scheduling practices and transportation to events. Working the bugs out of a complicated hotel to rink to healthy meals meals to competitive venue schedule is one of the big ever-changing challenges to be faced at every big event in every country. The solutions are never the same and the key is doing all this without wearing team members out on the road or waiting to get on the road.
And of course, there's the emotional management responsibilities. Helping our athletes - and sometimes parents, too - adjust to a different country takes good people skills. Every skater needs a little nudge, words of encouragement, reminders, supervision, an authoritative answer person and solution provider so they can relax and focus on their skating. Sometimes it is as simple as being an extra friend when needed. Thanks for keeping track of the Worlds with a smile, Doug Eley.