The following blog post was written by Jordan Fithian, player on the Men's National Team.
The first few days have been very productive. Coach Cuesta started the week off with a very informative tactics meeting where he covered goals for the next two weeks and the MNT as a whole moving forward. He also outlined what will be the MNT´s game plan as long as he is at the head. Offensive principles were defined, movements were discussed and drawn up and an attack was formed. Having somebody as experienced and knowledgable as Coach Cuesta is great and I really feel like we have been able to implement a lot of his ideas. We have moved the ball with pace and been able to create advantages that have been missing in our offense the past couple of competitions.
We have had five training sessions in all and two tactical meetings. There are a myriad of new faces mixed in with a slew of old heads. Talent wise, this is the one of the best group of players gathered for quite some time. We have talent and experience at each position and feel confident we can compete with and challenge all the teams meeting next week in Mexico City.
Javier Coba, Chris Morgan, and Nico Mukendi are all first time NT players who have brought some fire and athleticism to camp. Coba is an electric lefty who resides in Spain and has the potential to be a stalwart for the MNT for years to come. Morgan and Nico are both big, athletic backs who should provide an intimidating presence on defense and fire-power from the backline on O. Gabe Goodreau and Ivan Ignjatovic have been excellent between the pipes this week. Gabe is a goalkeeper who continues to improve at an unbelievable rate and Ivan is his ever consistent self. The NYCTHC and NYAC representatives have brought the experience and the patience expected from seasoned veterans and when combined with the overseas contingent, produce a flowing offense that is able to move the ball with speed.
The hotel accommodations are passable; the beds allow sleep and the TV has cable. We have been fortunate enough to be fed like hungry athletes going through double sessions. Tropical Smoothie and Island Wing Co of Auburn have done an incredible job of taking care of us, delivering us food directly to the gym and hotel and providing portions fit for men putting in an incredible amount of work.
We had a very nice meet and greet with many of the wonderful people who have made this residency program a reality from the town of Auburn and Opelika. Representatives from the tourism board, the city council, two local news crews, the Mayor and a many others had the chance to meet some of the athletes, speak with the coach´s and other staff members of USATH and new Chairman of the Board, Harvey Schiller. Auburn University and the town itself has been very welcoming and we hope to continue to nurture this relationship and grow it into a world class handball program centered on Auburn´s beautiful campus.
We have at least five more on court sessions and two more tactical meetings to prepare us for our trip beginning early Monday morning. Our goal is to leave Mexico City not only with qualification to the Pan Am Championships this summer but also as undeniably the best team in the tournament.
We want to send a special shout and thanks to Auburn Team Handball Club; they have been our minions for the afternoon practices, playing exclusively defense for drills upon drills and doing whatever Coach has asked of them. They have allowed us to work on our game and have been a huge help this week in training.
As of now, we do not have definitive info on whether or not the games will be streamed but I can guarantee you will be able to see updates on the players Facebook pages, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Please feel free to follow USATH @USATH on Twitter and Instagram as well as all the players. I won´t post their individual account handles on here but if you check out the website, many have their information listed under their bio.
Thanks for your continued support!