The Road to Cali: Ready for the World Games

Posted: July 26, 2013 04:14 PM

The following is part of our of continuing coverage of the 2013 World Games in Cali, Colombia. 

Cali: Lista para los Juegos Mudiales. "Ready for the World Games."

The headline for the lead article in Panorama, Copa Airlines’ in-flight magazine, told of a city abuzz with excitement to play host to the biggest sporting event the region has seen since the 1971 Pan American Games. Cali’s preparation for the World Games has included everything from submitting a formal bid to re-organizing the taxi system to choreographing and rehearsing the top-secret opening ceremony.

Cali se prepara para recopilar una nueva colección de espléndidos recuredos, said the article’s closing paragraph. "Cali is preparing to amass a new trove of splendid memories."

The United States National Team has spent the last four months undergoing the same kind of build-up in hopes of creating memories of their own. And really, they’ve been getting ready for longer than that: from Little League games two decades ago to their most recent track workouts, members of the National Team have always been preparing for this, the most important tournament of their lives. 

At first glance, it’s hard to see the U.S. team losing. It’s a collection of the very best technical skill there is – throws, marks, speed, endurance – as well as an experienced bunch that includes eight national championships and four that competed at the 2009 World Games.

But we can all point to the 2011 Miami Heat, mainstream sports’ favorite example of a talent-laden roster that fell short of what was expected. And in the ultimate world, it’s not uncommon to see new teams with familiar, well-known names form only to have their seasons end at Regionals rather than Nationals.

A roster full of talent alone can quickly devolve into individuals forcing plays if its members do not function healthily as a unit. The U.S. team has had five practice weekends since the roster was announced in late March, and at each of them, chemistry and mindset received just as much attention as Xs and Os. Even now, as the National Team has spent the last 24 hours in El Viajero Hostel awaiting the opening ceremonies and Sunday’s first pull, the salsa lessons and strolls through Cali’s fruit markets have a common focus: building unity by enjoying one another’s company.

There is, of course, another factor in the National Team’s potential success: the other teams at the tournament. Team members are quick to acknowledge Australia, Canada, Colombia, Great Britain and Japan as great teams, especially when the roster limit of only 13 makes national depth less of an advantage. 

In order of seeding, here’s a quick glance at the competition the U.S. will face starting on Sunday:

 Canada   Canada has had four weekends together: a practice camp in Toronto and tournaments in Kelowna, at Poultry Days (where they topped the U.S. in the final), and at Potlatch. They’re headlined by men Adrian Yearwood and Jeff Lindquist and women Danielle Fortin and Anne Mercier and are coached by Furious George legend Jeff Cruickshank. Their match up with the United States will be a heated one, not only because Canada won at Poultry Days, but also because many of the players have competed against one another in the Club Championship Series for a long time.
 Japan   Japan, according to U.S. coach Alex Ghesquiere, would be the favorites to win the World Games if they were better known. Their roster is full of successful Worlds experience that includes a women’s team win in Japan last year and a silver medal at the 2009 World Games. The team started practicing in January and has been able to play together frequently in recent months because each of its rostered members lives in Tokyo.
 Australia   Australia has had five weekends together, with the most noteworthy including a well-fought game against regional opponents New Zealand and a pre-World Games stop in Miami to scrimmage some U.S. players. The Crocs feature the world-renowned Tom Rogacki, a throwing and receiving stud that led them to a silver medal at the 2005 World Games, along with Michelle and Cat Phillips, sisters that led the Australian women to gold at the 2010 U-23 World Championships. Captain Tim Lavis played the 2011 U.S. Club Series with Washington, D.C.’s Truck Stop, and Jono Holmes is competing in his third World Games.
 Great Britain   Great Britain announced a 27-person roster in January and trained together weekly before the roster was recently finalized. Bex Forth and Justin Foord have competed with Showdown and GOAT, respectively, and Ollie Gordon played on the 2011 NexGen Tour. Britain’s men are coming off of a second-place finish at Worlds in Japan last summer.
 Colombia   Though Colombia fell to the U.S. 15-9 three weeks ago in a friendly at the U.S. Open in Raleigh, one thing was made clear: Elizabeth Mosquera and Yina Cartagena will hold their own amongst the best women at the tournament. Beyond that, Colombia showed a defensive springiness that somewhat made up for their lack of size that will be noticeable against everyone but Japan. Though unlikely to beat the U.S., Colombia might achieve the upset that their recent juniors success makes reasonable to predict.



The United States National Team will play Australia and Canada on the first day of pool play on Sunday, July 28; Colombia and Japan on Monday; and Great Britain on Tuesday. After pool play concludes, the top two teams will meet in the final, also on Tuesday, beginning at 6 p.m. local time, 7 p.m. EDT.


2013 World Games (official website)


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