Falcons Team Building

It's been long said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The trickle down effect as relates to the Springfield Falcons is that which has been successful in boardrooms, has been successful in professional sports.

Now it's found its way to the Falcons.

"It" is team building. How it ties into the 2011-2012 edition of the Falcons over the long haul remains to be seen.

After eight long seasons with no playoff hockey, longtime fans of the Birds are more than willing to accept with open arms any effort that Falcons or Columbus Blue Jackets management makes to build a stronger bond among teammates.

The athletes of today no longer have an off-season. It is more crucial than ever for them to stay sharp mentally as well as physically. Part of the mental sharpness comes from events that not just bring a group of guys together, but which bond them.

An active summer leads into a full throttle training camp, next come the pre-season games and all of a sudden, the regular season - all six months of it - hopefully followed by a playoff run, before the cycle commences again.

Falcons head coach Rob Riley took advantage of an early season road trip to Wilkes-Barre, PA to get his troops together.

From the Falcons website:
The Falcons stopped at the United States Military Academy at Westpoint to get a tour of the facilities, as well as get a chance to speak with individuals who have served in missions to Afghanistan and Iraq.  The afternoon was set up by Falcons head coach Rob Riley, who spent 18 years as head coach of the Army Black Knights.  Riley wanted the players to get a chance to view Westpoint and take in so much of the tradition that makes the place so special.

"I thought it was important for the players to meet so many of the special people at Westpoint," said Riley.  "We had a chance to speak with individuals who know so much about leadership, team work, commitment and character.  I think everyone enjoyed the afternoon.'

Rob Riley's brother Brian is the current head coach of Army and he added some great insight into some of the Army players who have gone on to serve in active duty in the United States Military, and he told some emotional stories of former Army players who have given their life to our country in missions to the Middle East.

The recurring theme becomes clear when Coach Riley points out "leadership, team work, commitment and character".

After returning home to Springfield, the Falcons next team outing was one that has become popular with men who have worn the Falcons sweater over the last decade plus.

An event that on the surface seems to be fairly benign, but very important in determining the character of the team is the annual golf tournament that benefits the local Shriners Hospital in Springfield.

In fact, even though he only played four games here last season between October 8th and October 17th, goaltender Danny Taylor upon arriving in town on October 16th asked Falcons president and General Manager Bruce Landon, "Did I miss the golf tournament?"

This week, the team was at it again. Coach Riley tells us in this week's webisode that the team brought in JB Spisso, a former drill sergeant and hockey coach at the United States Military Academy.

Spisso, according to Riley, has worked with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers among others in a specialized leadership training program.

One day was spent on speaking to the players, the other had groups of seven split up and facing an obstacle course type challenge.

Riley further mentioned that he would like to have this type of intense training on a monthly basis throughout the season to help the team maintain its focus.

When it comes to leadership of the team, one needs to go no further than captain Dane Byers. After being named by his peers as the captain of the team he said, "It’s an honor when your teammates vote on you as a leader, but that doesn’t change anything. We’ve got lots of leaders on this club."

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