I’ve just arrived home in San Francisco and am about to start working on some video footage from the All-Star Awards dinner. But before I do, I thought it would be nice to pick up where I ended my blog yesterday and share a bit more from the WPS All-Star weekend.
Saturday night, we held the First Annual WPS Awards Dinner in the Versailles Ballroom at the Chalet Hotel in St. Louis. Rachel Epstein and Jill Coy, the WPS Marketing Team, did an amazing job putting it all together!!! There were banners hanging – floor to ceiling – with photos of various players. All the team’s logos were posted on the wall. There were special little touches all around the room, from table tents with a collage of the All-Stars, to a white WPS logo projected onto the wall (very cool). The trophies that were presented were absolutely beautiful – you can see them in this photo gallery.
The event itself was great. Rob Penner (PR Director) and Rachel Epstein (Marketing Director) put together an amazing run-of-show. Jen Hildreth and Mark Rogondino (Fox Soccer personalities) were entertaining announcers, Tonya Antonucci (the Commish) gave a touching speech, and Jeff Cooper (Athletica’s owner) was a gracious host. Of special note, Joe Cummings was honored as the FIrst WPS All-Star. He’s recently left his position as the GM of the Boston Breakers to become the NSCAA’s CEO and Executive Director. His speech brought tears to my eyes. Follow Joe on Twitter.
I’ll be working on the highlight video shortly so you can probably expect it online tomorrow afternoon. Check out the power point in the background 🙂 That & the music were my small contributions to the night. I have more photos to share from the event, but they’re on K-Lush’s camera so I’ll post them as soon as I’ve downloaded them.
After the event, the WPS staff went up to “the office” for a work-night. It was basically just a chance to kick our feet up but still work. Even though we were thrilled with the WPS All-Star Awards Dinner, there was a TON more to do with the actual game the next day!!! So with a couple 100-calorie packs of doughnuts (thanks Commish!), some Chex Mix (thanks Momma Coy!) and a glass of pinot noir (thanks Rachel!), we prepped.
An 8am meeting on Sunday. Game Day.
After I nearly burnt down the hotel at breakfast (remember never to try to toast a croissant in one of those restaurant-toasters), I sat down with All-Star Head Coach/WPS Coach of the Year Abner Rogers. We had a great chat about his season, and the experience he’s had working with players with so many different styles, backgrounds, languages and cultures. We talked about his line-up for the All-Star Game, too, and what shape he was planning to play. Gareth O’Sullivan, the Head Coach for the Atlanta Beat, came over to our table to chat as well. We spoke about a few international players, talked about some super-stars that will be graduating in 2010 (ahem, UNC, I’m just saying Anson Dorrance you’re amazing). It was good to get to know these coaches better.
One really cool thing that came out of our chat was Abner asked me how the coaches could get involved and help promote the league more. Boy oh boy are the Social Media flood gates open now 😉 Any WPS coaches reading this: Hit me on Twitter!
Worked with Elly and Carrie (AMAZING Chi-Town Red Stars buddies that came down to help the League Staff work the game), Aaron Burch, Jalila Sparks and Abby LePeilbet (WPS Office Staff) in the Alpine Room for a bit before I headed over to The Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park to meet up with Cathie Shaver and her dad. Cathie was the Grand Prize Winner for a trip-for-two to the WPS All-Star Game in St. Louis from our Whose Side Are You On contest. I didn’t get a chance to meet Hilary, the winner of our Father’s Day contest, but I’ve asked both of the girls, if they have a chance (school is in session now so who knows?!), to write a blog about their trips. The trip package is awesome, so maybe next time WPS puts on a competition, even more fans will enter.
On my way out of the hotel, I ran into a couple friends of mine who made mid-western road trips to see the game: George Perry, Head Coach at Monmouth College and fellow NSCAA Board Member, and Jeff Tipping, the NSCAA Director of Coaching Education, and his lovely wife Chris. Wish I had more time to hang with them but I was in a rush to get to the stadium and see the awesome Puma Cube in All-Star Village. I hope you guys had a great time!!!
Met up with Jill Coy and headed over to set up my computer in the Press Box. The Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park is a ROCKIN’ facility… but the press box is a bit tight. Big thanks to Tony Hubert, PR for Athletica, for getting Karyn and I seats in the room. It was awesome to be in mission-control during the match.
Just prior to kick-off, I was able to grab a quick snack in the WPS VIP room, where I ran into Jorge Barcellos, the Head Coach for both Athletica …and of course Brazil. He’s such a sweet, sweet man. And since the NSCAA Convention in St. Louis last year, his English has improved SOOOO much. Jorge is so full of heart and love for the game that just being around him makes me smile.
I also ran into Super Fan, Carmela Lopriore, and introduced her to Jorge Barcellos, Mary Harvey, and the Commissioner. I think she found Peter Wilt a bit later so hopefully she had a great weekend! Then I went up to the Press Box to get comfy in my seat – which I would hold down for the next 6 hours. More to follow…