Stumbled into a few questions and comments on Enduring Spirit and figured I’d answer them here. Feel free to ask more — I’m easy to find. Also, check out my Q&A from earlier in the week with Caitlin Murray.
Will the book be available on (Nook, Apple, PDF, print, stone tablets)?
The Nook edition is up now. It’s on its way to the iBookstore and Kobo. I may look into Google Play as well. If I do anything in print, it’ll be a limited-edition thing. I could see trying to combine it with more photos so that it would have added value for people who already shelled out the $5.99 for the ebook, but that’ll cost more — photographers have every right to be paid for their work.
Speaking of photos, what’s your deal with that cover, anyway? Why pick on Alex Morgan?
I’m not. I don’t. Alex Morgan picked on me after I joked about U.S. women’s national team players expecting favorable calls from refs, which is her prerogative. As I said at the time she shot back at me on Twitter, I think she’s a great player and a future U.S. captain.
I picked this photo because (A) it’s the photo that drew the most attention during the course of the season and (B) it shows the defiant resilience of this team, standing up for itself against the best in the world.
When I designed the cover, I did so with the intent of drawing attention to Diana Matheson’s face. I wasn’t drawing attention to the name “Morgan” on the jersey — at one point in the process, it was obscured, and I didn’t even realize it was there in the final edit.
But you hate Portland!
No, I really don’t. If you read the book, you’ll find the Thorns draw a lot of flattery. They’re a class organization.
Why didn’t you do more analysis?
Interesting question, and perhaps I miscalculated. In reporting the book, I tried to take out the Heisenberg/Schrödinger/quantum physics observer effect and make myself part of the scenery. I dreaded the notion that people might act differently because I was on the field. (A few people have assured me that they were the same whether I was around or not.)
In writing the book, I figured people wanted less of me and more of the players. And I figured people might want to draw their own conclusions on what happened. It’s really not up to me to tell you whether Ashlyn Harris’ comments were fair to Mike Jorden. If I felt I had additional information that wasn’t readily available, I gave it.
But I might have been wrong. If you’ve read the book but still want my take on something, let me know.
Were you worried about losing credentials if you wrote something negative?
Not really. I have no idea what I’m doing in terms of coverage next season, but I think it’s fair to say I won’t be making serious money doing it.
Why didn’t you go into more detail on (Topic X, Y or Z)?
In most cases, that’s what I have. The Spirit kept some things in the locker room, like a lot of teams do. Women’s soccer teams are especially guarded in my experience. Hope Solo’s career of public statements is the exception that proves the rule.
I know there are plenty of people who think they know some behind-the-scenes information that wasn’t in the book. In some cases, I also heard that but couldn’t verify it. In other cases, it’s utter bunk. To give one example: A team that has an openly gay captain isn’t steering away from gay players. That’s nonsense. I can’t really go into more detail because we generally honor players’ rights to private lives (see the hand-wringing over whether to “report” the Abby Wambach-Sarah Huffman wedding when players were openly talking about it on public social media).
In some cases, I was able to press for more detail. Ken Krieger was willing to talk about players’ desire to bring him in to help out.
But in general, I wasn’t in investigative mode. The goal of the book was to capture the spirit (sorry) and sacrifice of soccer players trying to build a new team and a new league while being paid tiny salaries. I tried to get to know each player, and I’d like to think I was somewhat successful in doing that and getting across a little bit of their personalities. Controversies arose, of course, and I did what I could to explore them. In a lot of cases, there’s a lot less controversy than some fans think. I spent a lot of time talking with players and coaches on topics that didn’t make the book because there just wasn’t any substance to write about.
Not always, of course. Perhaps someone from a different vantage point can come in and get more dirt about the coaching change. That’s fine. A variety of voices is always better than one.
So why WAS Mike Jorden let go?
I think the players’ perception was that he wasn’t adequately preparing them for games. Was that reality? I don’t know. I didn’t look at his game plans, and a lot of elite-level game-planning is going to go over my head, anyway. But that’s the kind of perception that essentially becomes the reality. If players don’t think they’re being prepared, they’re not. That could be Jorden’s fault for not doing a great game plan, it could be Jorden’s fault for not communicating it well, or it could be that players were just tuning him out for whatever reason.
I wouldn’t judge Jorden too harshly. Even the best coaches in the world get fired sometimes. He hadn’t had much trouble in his previous coaching gigs, and people speak well of his integrity.
What about the other coaches?
I never got much of an answer on why Kris Ward was let go. Players seemed to like him — he was warmly greeted on a couple of returns to the SoccerPlex. I think they wanted a fresh start and felt it would be best if Mark Parsons came in without anyone left over from the previous regime other than Lloyd Yaxley, who was clearly well-liked as the goalkeeper coach and could also help out elsewhere.
I didn’t do much to find out the story on German Peri. He wasn’t around that often when I was there, and I didn’t see much interest in finding out why he was dismissed with Jorden and Ward.
One aside I’ll toss in: NCAA rules prevent someone from being a college assistant coach and a pro assistant coach. That’s ridiculous, and it’s affecting multiple people associated with the Spirit. Hayley Siegel is virtually a player/coach in the organization, but she can’t be officially recognized as such as long as she’s also at Georgetown. Add that to the list of Jay Bilas’ complaints with the NCAA.
Who was the funniest player on the team?
Emily Fortunato, the trainer. Closely followed by Conny Pohlers.
But why do you really hate Portland?
Because CPC stopped wearing her hats.
No, seriously — I don’t. Read the book and see for yourself.
Any other questions?