Some of you may have heard. We had a tryout for the team yesterday. We already have a full roster. The spot(s) available come with no guarantee of anything but hard work, no glory (and maybe, come to think of it, somebody to carry my umbrella at events.) It's not quite that bad but it's close. Whoever is finally chosen may never play a point at any event in 2011. What they will do is work hard, get better, create some internal competition (potentially earning an opportunity to play) and be ready to go if called upon. In some respects it will be more demanding that what we expect of the established players. (I want them hungry and unbreakable--and I want their desire to infuse the whole team.) But it will make them better players and prepare them to fill regular roles in the future.
We wanted players from Florida (or close enough to make every practice, without fail), we wanted upper division experience along with a few other preferences and vetted the original contact list to make the tryout invitation only. Of the 22 players vetted 18 showed up on Sunday morning.
(To all of you reading this who were there, thank you. Ballers each and every one. Not a dud in the bunch. We appreciate your time and effort.)
For the most part we had them run 40-yard sprints, in full gear with guns, and play 1-on-1's. Early on the wins versus losses were less important than they later became as we were evaluating their fundamental gun skills along with things like aggressiveness, game smarts and attitude. Each 1-on-1 began with the players sprinting across the back of the field from one corner to the other to help simulate game conditions and along with the repeated sprints produced a baseline for simple conditioning.
After a series of preliminary rounds we began matching up players to compete against each other with those players with losing records essentially placed in elimination brackets. It was time to start being successful. Around 3 hours into the process the numbers had been reduced to a final 6. Those 6 were briefly interviewed singly in part to reconfirm their ability to meet our demands if they succeeded in being chosen and to answer any additional questions we had. Then it was time to play some 2-on-2's with the players paired with a team player. Here we would see their natural inclinations come into play. How they responded to a greater challenge, their knowledge and understanding of a player's role in different positions on a wire and so on. 6 was reduced to 4. The final 4 played some 1-on-1's against Bryan Smith. While not particularly successful--nor were they expected to be--they all demonstrated they were thinking, (hopefully) learning and attempting to be proactive with each new opportunity.
At the end of the day we weren't prepared to make a final decision. The remaining 4 players were invited to next week's regular team practice where we will have one last opportunity to see how they measure up and fit in. At best they still only have a fifty-fifty shot to make it.