Three games in eight days.
The IFAF Under-19 World Championship will set a furious pace when it kicks off June 30 in Austin, Texas.
For players, their families and the fans in attendance, games will come quickly as excitement builds toward the gold-medal contest July 7.
For U.S. head coach Steve Specht and his staff, the process of constructing Team USA has been going on for months.
The first step became official today with the release of the American roster.
Hours of film, hundreds of phone calls and countless numbers of emails were logged, resulting in the list of 45 players.
“We went into it looking to identify some of the top football players from around the country,” said Specht, the head coach at Cincinnati St. Xavier High School and the defensive coordinator on the 2009 U.S. Under-19 National Team that won a gold medal at the IFAF U-19 World Championship in Canton, Ohio.
“We also talked to the players to find out what kind of character they have. Are they the kids we want to represent the United States? That is just as important as anything we are doing. Players on this team will represent their country with the class, the character that is demanded.”
The United States enters as the No. 1 seed and will take on No. 8 seeded American Samoa at 8 p.m. CT June 30 at Burger Stadium in Austin.
Players represent 18 states, but thanks to modern technology, U.S. coaches from the Midwest to South Beach to the heart of Texas – with the help of U.S. Men’s National Team Director Garrett Shea and Player Liaison Coordinator Todd Bell – were able draw consensus on who they wanted for the team.
“I feel really good about this team,” Specht said. “I have a much better feel for this group and the players than I did in 2009.”
The next step will be molding this group of athletes into a team. The U.S. has six days of practice scheduled before the June 30 opener.
Specht is confident that will be plenty of time – both to get his team ready and to instill in the players the magnitude of the task ahead.
“Our message from Day 1 is that we are not defending anything,” Specht said. “We are looking forward, not back. We are here to pursue a gold medal, and our expectations are high.”