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Dear SpiritFam Members,
This past weekend, Saturday specifically, would have seen us all at Audi Field for our season opener, which I anticipated being a date of important significance in the progress of our club. I’m assuming that, like me, you were all looking forward to our first “footprint” for the 2020 season with a new squad filled with some fresh and some familiar faces. Patience is a virtue that I’m not really blessed with, lol, but I’m trying to remain in a good place for when we do actually get to play for all of you in the coming weeks. I firmly believe it will be well worth the wait!
In the meantime, we have been diligently adhering to our league and government guidelines on how to negotiate this pandemic safely. Players have been allowed to workout in small groups of 2 or 3, especially if they are sharing the same household. Even under those circumstances it has been difficult to maintain our professional fitness standards, but I have to give kudos to both our players and our High Performance Director, Michael Minthorne, who have been outstanding during these testing times.
Our Technical Staff has targeted the highest levels of support for our players in four specific categories: Performance Training (movement & strength), Technical Training (ball comfort/techniques), Nutrition & Sport Psychology. In regard to our performance training, Michael has been able to prescribe workouts (movement & strength) to individual players via the mobile app, TeamBuildr. Each player gets a daily, customized workout plan that Michael has designed for them—and they report the performance standards to him so that we can monitor progress. We’ve also given physical challenges to players, with Aubrey Bledsoe winning the first challenge and Jaye Boissiere winning the push-up contest this past week!
On a daily basis we have our caterer, SuperFD, deliver meals for players in 3-day allotments. We also provide breakfast meals for players each week so that they are fueled up sufficiently for the demanding workouts they are required to perform each day. So far, our players have been extremely grateful of this service, which serves to keep them out of the grocery stores and under limited interaction with the public.
Each week we have prescribed technical skills challenges for our players to instill some competition amongst the squad. Last week Jordan DiBiasi smashed everyone to win the first challenge, but this week we had 3 winners in each of the different categories. Dorian Bailey, Paige Nielsen and Jordan DiBiasi (again) managed to produce video evidence of highest scores in our skills test – and of course, win the Uber Eats gift card that staff provided for each challenge!
Players and staff continue to meet on these virtual platforms (Zoom, Webex) and we are all becoming experts at these types of distance learning activities. I’m not sure how much we will be required to continue with this type of player–coach interactions, but I can safely say that it is something I really hope we don’t have to do regularly. I have to admit that I really, really miss my players and want nothing more than to be out there on the field yelling, cajoling and prompting them to be better at the sport we all love so much.
The club has introduced a new social media activity for me to do on a weekly basis in an effort to keep me busy, The Richie Burke Show. I’ve had Rose on as my first guest and Hatchy on the second week. Both were brilliant, but perhaps neither really hitting the heights of popularity enjoyed by Rose’s famous dog, Wilma, who upstaged all of us! This week I’m having Tegan & Jordi on the show and they have warned that they plan to Bad Cop, Bad Cop me! Lol. Should be fun and I’d encourage you to join us to see exactly how these players really treat their coach!
Please stay safe and healthy as we move closer to normalcy in the coming weeks. We will try to keep you all updated on our progress – and continue to look forward to seeing you all in the coming months at the stadium.