Ideal High Performance Team Coordinator Qualifications
With all the talk of Tom Forster's ill fit for the High Performance Team Coordinator position, and speculation that he'll be fired, resign, etc., I wanted to open up a thread about what qualifications / background people think would make an ideal HPTC?
Some questions to start:
- Does this person have to be a high level gymnastics coach, now or previously?
- Do they need to be a current gym coach, at any level?
- What actual gymnastics / coaching experience do they need in actuality?
As I've thought about this a lot over the last several months, I'm not convinced actual coaching expertise or experience is required to be ideal for this position. The personal coaches themselves are sufficient there.
I think what's needed is someone with a proven ability to manage diverse, opinionated teams/groups, navigate bureaucracy, make difficult decisions and stand by them, build relationships and foster goal-oriented growth, and understand complex rules and strategies for optimizing opportunities under them who also has a passion for gymnastics. In other words, a classic, but proven, manager whose passion for gymnastics makes this particular management opportunity exciting.
Jessica has said several times on the podcast, "No one wants this position" and I think that might actually be true amongst the coaching pool. But for someone whose professional experience is focused on building and managing high performing teams and developing strategies for them that has a personal interest in gymnastics? This could be a dream job.
(Also, anyone have an idea of what the salary for this position is? That could also be a pool limiting contributor)
Tom's major qualification for the job seems to be that he's "nice" and no one had anything bad to say about him. Given the low bar for leadership from USAG's elite program I think that the problem is largely that the ideal candidates for this job do not want it and the pool of people that USAG is pulling for is stale and tainted.
I would take someone who has experience running a business/managing people who understands coaching and is capable of learning/listening to others and hiring staff to help with the areas that they are not the most qualified in.
Maybe more generally a job description is needed. And once one is established, it should be challenged to see if a more diffuse spread of responsibilities is desirable (and possible within the bounds of a potentially cash-strapped bankrupt organization.)
Tom seemed to be unaware of or antipathetic to the fact that communication with the media was part of his job. This is a point that I think is unavoidably part of the job of whoever is the ultimate boss of the national team. But there certainly could have been someone helping him, for instance, to craft a strategy for communicating about "the Jade situation" that avoided his self-contradicting statements while at the same time didn't dump any of the "selfishness" controversy on Jade. And someone to rein him in when he let his irritation at media questioning in the whole team-selection ballyhoo goad him into declaring that the team would be selected by highest 3-up-3-count team score without leaving room for other considerations (like all-rounders for injury fill-in options).
The communications issues with team selection weren't just with the media, of course. The communication with the athletes apparently left a lot to be desired as well. At some point he needed to just own it and say "we'll want athletes with capability on multiple events so that we have back-up options in case of on-site injuries, but we'll have to balance that with maximizing medal possibilities, so it'll be a difficult trade-off" and take responsibility for it.
The responsibility for guiding/advising the gymnasts and their coaches in optimizing routines for international judging is one I don't think we saw a lot of from Tom this
quadquint. And it's a good example of an area where I think the responsibilities might be better spread among other staff, including experienced international judges working individually with the athletes and their coaches.