A few questions and answers on ‘Enduring Spirit’

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?

One thought on “A few questions and answers on ‘Enduring Spirit’”

  1. Thanks Beau for your continuing coverage on WoSo. Let me say that I don’t like or dislike that Morgan or any Portland Thorns is on the cover of a WasSpirit centric story. I will question that if this cover photo truly encapsulates the title of “Enduring Spirit” or the reflection of the story of the club. The photo is an early season incident (game 4) where Spirit was still in the thick of it, before going through its struggles and “enduring” through it. The first vision that comes to mind that would epitomizes its spirit is after a long losing streak winning after rain delays and coming out the victorious against CRS and the amount of joy and celebration that the club had in between. A cover that would showcase that spirit and its players vs. the big star of the league (like it or not its true), a referee and oh yeah a player. And you could agree that yes this was a photo that attracted a lot of attention (rightfully so… .I think it’s humorous), but let’s face it anything with Morgan tracks abnormal amount of attention. I mean it doesn’t hurt that she’s marketable, eh? But it’s the “little guy” vs. the big star you are selling or you selling the club’s passage through the season? Hey – it’s a talking point. Another option (vs. a photo of their winning game vs. CRS) could be a NT player vs. another compatriot NT player going against each other… maybe the message there is during club games, clubs come first. I say that somewhat sarcastically but by the amount of questions that players received on this topic, it appeared to be a talking point. If players can separate country vs. club. It’s apparently a new thing that hasn’t happened before.

    And since you brought up Morgan picking on you on your joking remark, it seems that context is lost on both sides. I assume Morgan gets all sorts of replies other than boys asking her out but why would she respond to that particular remark (which had to have tweeted at her previously)? I believe context. Just like how you responded in following tweets that Health looked hurt and Scott’s foul could have warranted a yellow caution (which it was assessed), but Morgan may or may not have received that following tweet. But like in that particular situation, could it be that Morgan (as heard) twitter response was in reaction to her teammate and friend on the receiving end of the third incident of the game against the same opposing player that left her on the pitch in pain? And the last/third/same incident that you/everyone heard Morgan screaming for a foul that left Heath in tears and unable to stand on her foot, an injury as we especially know now was much, much more than a “sore right foot”. In looking back, you still don’t think her response was at that particular incident vs. your implication that she seemed indignant about the broad (true imo) assumption that start players get preferential treatment? Really? If you want to give context, I think it could be said on both sides. And frankly, in all sports regardless of gender, it’s true. But Morgan’s response seemed triggered by her opinion that Scott was warranted a yellow card especially after a third infraction and to this one particular incident. She felt that regardless of Heath’s NT status, that a yellow card should have been assessed. I think it was telling and frankly what we know afterwards of the extent of Heath’s injury.

    Again, thank you for your continued coverage. And hey – it doesn’t hurt that Morgan sells things, which is also signed off by every club marketing department as evidenced by its marketing when Thorns came in town. And why not, that marketing strategy worked for those games (most/close to all were club’s highest attendance figures). Although that strategy might be to Harris’ chagrin when Morgan’s name was the loudest in the starting line up and when she scored/touched the ball..

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