Team USA heads to STRIDE camp for team building

By Brad Whitlock, U.S. Curling News columnist,

camp without having touched a square inch of ice. “Tis camp was all about team building and


setting goals,” remarked Rusty Schieber, the new national coach of the team. “Typically practice involves getting on the ice, working on skills, and so forth,” said Schieber. “We didn’t want that temptation or distraction. We wanted to fo- cus on team dynamics.” With no ice to be found for miles around, said Scheiber, it was time for the team to focus on where they need to go and how they’re going to get there over the next few months approaching the 2018 Paralympic Win- ter Games in PyeongChang. “We spent the first two hours of the first day

discussing what’s going to happen, what changes are needed, and how we would implement those changes. Te message was pretty simple – things are going to change. We’re starting at square zero and rebuilding. Bottom line – in 2018 we’re get- ting a medal at PyeongChang,” stated a confident Schieber. Finding a place to hold the camp that had the

right facilities and atmosphere wasn’t easy, says Schieber. Aſter considerable effort, and some last minute luck, Schieber found a home for the planned camp at STRIDE Adaptive Sports near Albany, NY. STRIDE is an adaptive sports organization

that is dedicated to empowering special needs individuals with sport and recreation programs. Teir 85-acre camping retreat facility holds year- round programs for archery, fishing, hiking and much more. Te camp setting was just what Team USA was looking for to conduct their off- ice team building camp. “We couldn’t have done this without the tre-

mendous people at STRIDE,” praises Schieber. “Tey were instrumental in making this hap- pen for us – particularly Mary Ellen Whit-

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he U.S. Wheelchair Curling National Team members emerged with new fo- cus and enthusiasm from their recent

at Brakebush Brothers, Inc., applied some of the motivating principles he’s utilized over the years for his employees. He’s a strong proponent of the Mental Management techniques developed by Olympian Lanny Bassham. Tese techniques provide a framework for having a consistent mental performance, particularly when under pressure. “It’s a system that has proven itself for hun-

ney, founder and CEO of STRIDE, and Jenifer Whiston, Director of Operations. I can’t thank them enough.” Key to pulling off the camp was Whiston, who also happens to be the incoming president of the Albany Curling Club. “Without Jen, none of this would have happened,” credits Schieber. “Of course, USA Curling was also a big supporter,” he added. What made the camp so special and produc-

tive for everyone? Te camp revolved around discussions, in-

struction, in-class exercises, written assessments, Q&A sessions, and other activities that encom- pass all the things a competitive team needs to do. Of course, there were campfires and s’mores on the agenda, too. In the end, the s’mores even won over those who had never camped before. “It was a tremendous camp. We were able to

hang out together by the campfire, converse, and discuss our strengths and weaknesses. We bonded as a team. I couldn’t be happier,” noted Schieber. In addition, because of the timing in mid-

June, Team USA was also able to participate in one of STRIDE’s annual events – the Strides for STRIDE 5K – Run, Walk, and Roll. Te event is a 5K/2K fundraiser for the STRIDE organization (which raised almost $24,000 during the event). For more info on STRIDE, go to During the camp, Schieber, a vice president

dreds of athletes, as well as business people, over the years, and I wholeheartedly believe in it,” said Schieber. “We also delved into, and studied, one of the most definitive sources for practical infor- mation on team building, the Five Dysfunctions of a Team pyramid, developed by Patrick Len- cioni.” Te four-day camp was a team effort that in-

cluded presentations and discussion from Asso- ciate Coach Tony Calacchio, National Outreach Director Marc DePerno, as well as the team skip, Steve Emt, and vice skip Kirk Black. “We had great exchanges amongst all the team members,” said Schieber. Now it’s time to move forward – to the 2018 Paralympics and those medals. Q

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