Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The New Road to Vancouver!

Welcome to the Team Shuster blog.

It seems like this might be a better way to keep you all informed. I'll send the link to this blog any time I post an update and you can always come back here to find links to our events and other information.

Now to get you up to speed.

Our first camp in Green Bay went very well. This camp was designed as a World Team Prep and Olympic introduction. Our team and Debbie McCormick's team (the women's Team USA) spent time in meetings with our new "Team Around The Team" or TATT. This Team includes:

Mark Swandby - USCA Men's Team Leader (logistics and planning)
Scott Higgins - USCA Coaching Development Director
Ed Lukowich - USCA Athletic Development Director (strategy and tactics)
John Coumbe-Lilley - USCA Sports Psychologist (psychology and communication)
Roger Schmidt - USCA Technical Coach (delivery and team systems)
John Crawley - USOC National Team Technical Support Coordinator

This highly qualified team of coaches spoke about our upcoming year and the challenges that we will face. The general tone of the discussion was that the TATT is meant to be a resource and partner for both teams as we go through the year.

One of the inspirational themes of the weekend was "Fight for the Podium!". We watched a great video of the behind-the-scenes story of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" hockey team, which was quite a bit different than the Hollywood version. There were some very interesting parallels from that story that we could draw from today.

We had two on-ice sessions running some drills and working on team systems. We also had some video tape work done on our deliveries. Time well spent.

The highlight of the weekend was our dinner Saturday night at Bret Favre's Steakhouse where both teams and the TATT were joined by Mark Murphy, current President of the Green Bay Packers. We enjoyed a wonderful meal and Mr. Murphy shared some of the Packer's vision for "winning organizations" as well as some stories of his playing career with the Washington Redskins under Joe Gibbs.

All-in-all a very good start to our quest for Gold! Trust me, we ARE NOT just satisfied to be going.

The most important component of the weekend was, without a doubt, our first look at a revised training schedule for the next year. The goal of the schedule is to make sure that we are the best prepared curling team in Vancouver! Essentially, once we return from the World Championships in Moncton, we'll have a short time off and then we'll be on a two weekends-on and one weekend-off schedule right through August! Most of that time will be spent in Green Bay. However, there looks to be a couple of trips to other training centers on the Schedule as well......San Diego and Colorado Springs are both possibilities.

In August our competition schedule will begin in earnest. It looks like we'll be spending some time overseas. I am not at liberty to say where just yet but I can say that Europe and the Pacific Rim are in the mix! As you might expect, we'll also be spending a fair amount of time in Canada again. However, the level of competition will be considerably higher on average than we saw this year. As of now, we're scheduled to play in all four Grand Slam of Curling events. The Grand Slam is a series of four WCT events that host the best in the world to play for some serious cash! All are usually televised in Canada. Very exciting stuff!

Some other things of note:

5th man - after much deliberation and discussion, we decided on a new 5th man to join us on this journey......Chris Plys. As you might remember, we had a few battles against Chris this year. Because Chris is from Duluth and has played with John, Ike and Smitty before and the fact that he is a great curler with a Jr. World Championship (2008) and a Jr. World Bronze (2009) to his name, he became the logical choice. We're very excited to have Chris join the team!

Olympic Coach - this is a longer story, but the short version is that Olympic Coaches need to be qualifed to make the trip. Unfortunately, Brian Simonson doesn't yet have the qualifications. so Brian will make the trip to Worlds with us, but he will be transitioning his duties over to our new coach, Phil Drobnick. Phil is a longtime friend and curler from the Iron Range and surprise, surprise, he was Chris Plys' coach! Kind of makes sense, huh? Phil will bring a wealth of World experience with him from his last few years with Chris' team.

Okay, almost done. So we're off and running as Team USA! We head out tomorrow for Victoria, British Columbia for the last WCT event of the year. The Bear Mountain Arena Curling Classic! Many of the teams that we'll see in Moncton will be at this event, so it will be a good test for us. Online scoring should be available and I have posted the link to the right.

Thank you all so much for the support. More to come.....

John Benton
Team USA


  1. Good luck to you boys throughout this process. Can't wait to watch you in Vancouver!!!

  2. Thanks for the info John. I still can hardly believe it either!!! Good curling this weekend!! Love ya.... Betsy

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