The weather is starting to get a bit more tolerable here in Des Moines. Today it will be in the mid 90's, which is far better than the mid 100's we have been experiencing. Fortunately, we are about to move into the competition hotel after tomorrow's practice. It's a fair guess we will have air conditioning from here on out. I probably just jinxed the whole thing!
We have spent the last two days training twice per day. One practice was more focused on training technical skill and the second practice was more focused on competitive drills and scrimmaging, so we can start to rank the players. There are 22 players on the USA Junior National A-2 team. Last night we broke them up into two competition teams of 11 based on their three days of statistics and performance. The top players in each position were placed on the Red team, which will be the #5 seeded team overall of the 18 teams in the Women's Junior International Division.
From there, we gave the next-highest-rated players the option of being placed on the top team as a back-up or being placed on the White team (2nd team and #9 overall seed with the opportunity for more playing time). Many of the players in this situation opted for the 2nd team where they will get more playing time. In the past, very few players selected this option, but it definitely seems like today's players are more interested in playing time than just "being on the top team". I find that quite fascinating.
Today, I had the Red team scrimmage against our USA Junior National team. This team consists of the top 20 players from around the United States in the 19 and under age group. Needless to say, there are more than a few future Olympians on that team. It was a great experience for our players to see exactly who they have to beat out if they want to be on the JNT in 2013 and play in the World Championships next year. This afternoon, we will scrimmage the JNT again, then tomorrow morning we will scrimmage Chile. From there we will shut down training and get some rest heading into the High Performance Championships tournament.
The competition pools came out last night and we are scheduled to play the Iowa Region, the Badger Region, the Lone Star Region, the Dominican Republic Junior National Team and the Canadian Junior National Team. My team played the Dominicans last year in a really heated match that got a bit feisty on more than one occasion. It will be interesting to see if it's the same players and coaching staff this year. Might be some fireworks this time around J
You can follow the progress of the tournament which starts Tuesday. Our first match is at 2:15 p.m. Central Time. Click here for a link to all of the results. There is a possibility that some of our matches may be broadcast over the internet. I will be sure to let you know if that happens.USA!!!!!!!!