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Team Force heads to Switzerland

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Team Force heads to Switzerland
by Chris Cook

Team Force puts on the red, white and blue for the first time and sets its sights on its first tournament in Europe. The young Force squad has been working together for eight months and after 3 camps, studying film and lots of individual training, not to mention tournament play with club teams during last season, they will finally travel together to Nottwil, Switzerland for their first tournament July 10-13 against host Switzerland, Great Britian, Finland, Germany and Belgium. The tournament will be a six team round robin format and should give The Force a great measuring stick as to how they match up against established National Teams who will compete in the World Championships in Denmark in August. Team Force is seeded #2 and that may be somewhat generous based on reputation.

It all began with tryouts in October, 2013. Thirty two athletes were invited to try out for the team and the following fifteen athletes were chosen.

1.0 Nate Harmon
1.0 Lee Fredette
1.5 Josh O'Neill
1.5 Kevin Crombie
2.0 CJ Brown
2.0 Eric Ingram
2.0 Ronnie Adams
2.0 Talbot Kennedy
2.5 Cody Kingsland
2.5 Brandon Summerville
3.0 Clayton Brackett
3.0 Ryan Kress

alternates
1.0 Tim Vixay
2.0 Joe Testaverde
3.0 Mason Symons

The staff assembled consists of:
Head Coach - Dave Ceruti
Assistant Coach - Chris Cook
Team Leader - Heather Campbell
Staff - Chuck Wood
Staff - Thomas Watson
Staff - Callie Martin
Staff - Janet Dickenson
Athletic Trainer - Kris Gratias

Tryouts

Coach Ceruti said, "I wasn't sure what to expect nor did I have any idea what kind of team we were going to select out of the group. There were so many variables that I had to take into consideration, from which point combinations to take, to going with the right chemistry of experienced vs. developmental type players, to role-specific players. After four days of skills testing, scrimmage games and late night meetings with the selection committee, the team was selected. I really felt we left tryouts with the best twelve man "team" we could have chosen."

"I couldn't have been given a better staff to work with. Coach Chris Cook is a guy I've played with on USA National teams and someone I wanted to work with on the coaching end. Chuck "The Hammer" keeps everyone's equipment rolling, Thomas, Callie and Janet are the jacks-of-all trades, Kris keeps everyone healthy and in one piece. And Heather runs this whole program."

Coach Cook added, "I've known Coach Rudy for over twenty years. We played together on USA gold medal winning teams in 1994 Stoke Mandeville, England and ironically 1995 Notwill; Switzerland, host of the first Quad Rugby World Championships. It's a privilege to work with Rudy. He was a great class 1, who was a student of the game. We've had hours of conversation about players, matchups and strategies when we were playing with and against each other and nothing has changed now as coaches."

The team has continued to gel and come together as one with each camp. Not only on the court, but more importantly off the court as well. Coach Ceruti said, "This is a great group to work with. When building a team, or anything, it's important to have a strong, solid foundation. And they have it, it's a fundamentally sound team." 

Heather Campbell and Dave Ceruti checked the IWRF schedule constantly and narrowed it down to a few prospective tournaments. From the level of competition of teams already committed, to the quality of tournament they host, they decided that the Switzerland tournament would be the best choice.

Ceruti said, "It's ironic that Coach Cook and I are going back to the same exact facility and gym that we won a gold medal in at the first rugby world championships in 1995." Cook added, "I can't wait to return to the bunker in Nottwil! To put this into perspective: At Nottwil in '95 we beat Team Canada in the gold medal game and it was Canadian legend Garett Hickling's first international tournament. He's played in all five subsequent Paralympic Games and now we get to go back to Nottwil to work with young men who are trying to get to that level someday."

Team Leader Heather Campbell concluded, "It's been wonderful to be a part this team as we have prepared for Switzerland both on and off the court. I haven't worked with such a dedicated group of athletes in a long time and I look forward to them being able to put all their hard work to the test!"

Team Force is looking forward to traveling together, playing together and learning what it takes to continue the successful legacy of representing The USQRA on an international stage.

June 29, 2014 — 6:00am