Heading into a new year of
growth and innovation, the
U.S. Pizza Team has its sights
set on getting the gold at the
World Pizza Championship in
Team competition in most sports requires daily practice sessions, workouts in the gym and hours of studying film of opponents’ games. Squad members bond over
hard-fought scrimmages and strained muscles, study complex
playbooks for hours at a time, and sweat, grunt and struggle
through grueling drills in freezing-cold rain or blistering heat.
It’s an exhausting and challenging regimen, but that’s how Super Bowls and World Series are won.
The “pizzathletes” of the U.S. Pizza Team (USPT) should
be so lucky.
For them, there’s little time for practice, no state-of-the-art
training facilities, no scholarships to pay the bills. They all live
in far-flung cities and can get together to practice their routines
only when their schedules allow. Some of them attend college
while also working full-time jobs. They may go for months at
a time without ever laying eyes on each other, much less running drills and refining their moves in coordinated rehearsals.
And, yet, when these “pizzathletes” finally do get together in
the same room, well, sometimes it’s magic.
In 2011, they met up in Salsomaggiore, Italy, and managed
to capture top acrobatic team honors at the World Pizza Championship (WPC), taking the gold cup home to the United
States. And although USPT members participated only in
individual events in last year’s WPC, they plan to reunite for
the team competition at the 2013 show, to be held April 15 to
17 in Parma, and reclaim that trophy.
Recapturing the gold cup will require “a lot of dedication,”
says USPT assistant director Missy Green. “Being spread across
the country as we are, we depend heavily on the first few days
of meeting up in Italy to accomplish our goals. Of course,
everyone is dying to sip wine, stroll around the ancient plazas
and enjoy a relaxing vacation, but we have to spend those hours
making dough, rolling it and coordinating our routine, and
then it’s practice, practice, practice.”
USPT acrobatics coach Jamie Culliton says a WPC victory
will require “dedicated people who believe in what we’re doing
and are willing to work hard to learn the routine in the short
time we have together. We have been communicating regularly
about ideas for the routine and have certain moves worked out
ahead of time.”
Ultimately, though, success in Parma comes down to “hav-
ing a routine that grabs people’s attention from the start and
doesn’t let go,” Culliton adds. “With our last win, there were
people coming up to us days later, telling us how much they
loved the theme. I still get comments about it—it was that