Story and photos by Amy Griffin, Head Coach, Deaf Women’s National Team
Ed. Note: Recently The U.S. Deaf Womens National Team came to Fremont to hone their skills on the soccer field as well as put on a clinic for area players of all ages.
We met their coach, Amy Griffin and asked her to put together a story about the experience.
What follows is her account of what proved to be an interesting time for all involved.
Impossible is the task of accurately depicting the training camp the U.S. Deaf Women's National Team (USDWNT) recently completed. It's long, so wait until you are stuck in traffic, the laundry reads 1 minute to go but you know it will be an eternity, your kids won't get off video games, or you are sincerely interested in the goings on of this wonderful team.
A year ago, Laura Yon, former captain and member of US DWNT player pool, mentioned the idea of hosting a training camp on her family's dairy farm in Fremont, Michigan. Assuming I'd blow off the idea she followed up with an email titled: "10 Top Reasons Camp in Michigan will be the Best." Amongst the reasons: free fields, free cars, etc.. as she knows we are on a slim budget. She had me at Reason #4: The team will be together on the farm and have a taste of farm life (AKA: HARD WORK). Sold.
In a country where youth sports have turned into big business & families are paying thousands of dollars to buy the right environment, we decided to dial it back. It doesn't cost anything to be better. In my opinion the 2 most important ingredients in improving as a team are 1) Hard Work and 2) Working Well Together. Nope.. make that one thing: WORKING HARD TOGETHER.
We were a team of extremes. Veterans that have won gold medals the Deaflympics and Deaf World Championships alongside rookies that have never played with another deaf teammate. An age rage that begins in middle school and ends near forty. Communication styles that are either oral or sign language. Yes, training camp on the farm would be perfect. This would be the camp where players learned how to work hard, work together, and work for others.
Laura and her family graciously gave the team their homes, automobiles, ATV’s, and chores. Steve Vissia had also graciously donated the facilities at Fremont Middle School ; a rare luxury.
3:00 – 6:30 Farm Chores : Players stepped in to help care for 150 + calves. Jobs consisted of cleaning water buckets, filling milk bottles, feeding calves and helping with vaccinations among other things.
8:30-10:00 am Practice
6:30-8:00 PM Training
Thanks to the efforts and environment that Laura, her twin sister Erin, and other provided, the camp proved to be an invaluable experience. Each day of hard work and learning new things allowed for growth on many levels. The team gained a new understanding of how much smoother jobs were completed when clear positive communication occurred and everyone put in maximum effort together. Synchronicity. Teamwork. The shared experience of the 3am grind translated onto the soccer field at practice. By the end of camp, it was evident that many elements had improved in a very short time. The communication was better, willingness to work extra hard even on a hot day was great, paying attention to details and coaching points seemed to resonate. The bonds that grew from all of the players regardless of experience, age or background was one of the elements that will help our team find the gold medal podium once again; and it was hard work and long hours that united this bunch… in an environment new to most of us.
It’s not often a coach gets to boast about so a successful camp on many levels, but this camp was special. Thanks to the open hearts and minds of those that help make this camp happen and the players that participated; and who weren’t afraid to go for it. For more info on the team and or players please follow: www.usdwnt.com
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