Women Eagles Making History
December 12, 2019
The United States Women’s 7s team is hitting full stride as they prepare for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The Eagles got their first ever tournament win on home soil and for the first time ever the team won back-to-back tournaments. (The Eagles won in France to end last season’s campaign and won the first leg of this season’s series) Only the mighty Black Ferns of New Zealand had ever won back-to-back on the circuit prior to USA’s consecutive victories. More recently, the team finished third in Dubai and as a result, currently sits tied atop the series leaderboard. The program has made great strides in the past few years and it is due to a number of different factors.
Chris Brown took over as the head coach in 2018 and brought a new style of coaching to the team. Team responsibilities have been delegated amongst the players and there is a personal responsibility for them to take their own games to the next level. Whether that is watching film or working on skills, each individual is expected to contribute to the overall skill set. The new management style has given more autonomy to members of the team.
“Coach has brought a fast paced game, structure and a strong sense of self-accountability to the program,” said Eagle veteran Alev Kelter, who has been involved with the program for a long time and recently set a United States woman’s team record by recording her 30th tournament appearance for the red, white and blue. “His style has allowed us to take ownership of things and it has really helped us.”
Over the last year, the team has worked at building better team culture and developing a growth mindset. Reaching a common goal with a unified mission has been paramount to success.
“Getting 25 women to all work for a common goal can be difficult,”Kelter indicated. “We wanted to make sure that everyone was buying into every single thing the coaching staff was saying.”
The team has implemented a goal system entitled B.R.A.V.E., which each letter standing for something. “Be a good blueberry or act with integrity,” respect everyone, authenticity, vulnerability and enjoy the process.
“This guides how we live out our values as a team,” Kelter added. “Coach Brown has really pushed us to buy into this B.R.A.V.E. mentality.”
Be in the Moment
The team has recently focused on staying grounded in the present. Ignoring outside factors, pressure and the magnitude of the moment has been a driver in success. The team even recently brought in a sports psychologist to help everyone build skills to better accomplish this goal.
“Channeling our minds, staying present and focusing on the small details is helping improve our all-around game,” Kelter added. “It has helped us get the most out of every training, film and conditioning session.”
This has put an emphasis on mental preparation. The preparation process has not changed for the team from a tactical or physical standpoint but now it is about fine tuning the process to be as prepared as they can be.
“We still watch film, we still scout our opponents but at the end of the day, if you are not present, you are going to miss opportunities. We have been very focused on being in the moment.”
The team will look to continue to set new benchmarks in the coming season and at the 2020 Olympics. With a commitment to culture and each other the women’s Eagles are primed to make more history in the coming year.