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Meet the 2014 IFCS World Agility Team USA Members Part 1

In the first in this series, you'll learn a bit about six of the IFCS WAC team members (Monique Plinck, Ivette White, Stacy Bols, Maureen Waldron, Mary Ellen Barry, and Terry Smorch.). More to come! By Brenna Fender

The 2014 IFCS World Agility Championships takes place from May 8-11 in the Netherlands. Team USA is made up of 12" team members Andy Mueller and Crackers, Daneen Fox and Masher, Ivette White and Zip, Monique Plinck and Tiki, Linda Womer and Sonic, Mike Padgett and Kona (Alternate); 16" team members Stacy Bols and Krusher, Maureen Waldron and Michael, Jenn Crank and Kaboo, Jennifer Thomas and Rodeo, and Giuliana Lund and Zuri; 22" team members Mary Ellen Barry and Maizy, Paulena-Renee Simpson and Graphite, Jeannette Hutchison and Rumble, Kate Moureaux and Smart, and Stacy Peardot-Goudy and Sobe; and 26" team members Lori Michaels and Solei, Desiree Snelleman and Pace, Terry Smorch and Presto, Ashley Anderson and Psi, Jenn Crank and Sonic, and Jamie Herren and Zip (Alternate). Giuliana and Zuri and Stacy and Sobe were orginally alternates, but they replaced Jen Pinder and Britain and Lisa Kucharski and Finesse (respectively), who cannot compete due to injury. Alternates Mike and Kona and Jamie and Zip will not be traveling to the event.

Today we begin taking a closer look at those who will be representing the USA at this prestigious event. Meet Monique Plinck, Ivette White, Stacy Bols, Maureen Waldron, Mary Ellen Barry, and Terry Smorch. Get ready to cheer them on via the live stream on! 

Monique and Tiki. Photo courtesy of Monique Plinck.

Monique Plinck and her teammate, Tiki, and Ivette White and her partner, Zip, are members of the 12" team. In "real life," Monique is the Residency Coordinator for Yale Internal Medicine and a part-time agility instructor in Middlefield, Connecticut. Her canine partner at the IFCS WAC, Tiki, is a six-year-old Papillon. Monique and Tiki have previous experience in international competition. Monique says, "Being in Belgium two years ago has me better mentally prepared for the level of competition. I have a better feel for how the event is run, what traveling with a team is like.... I won't be anticipating as many 'new' things."

Monique and Tiki attended the team practice to help them get prepared for the big event. Monique says, "We have been studying and training on courses the IFCS judges have used this year. Tiki and I also hike regularly." When asked what Tiki's strong points are in competition, Monique says, "Tiki is a great traveler and doesn't waiver in his effort to give 110%. Knowing I can rely on that is great. And I love great competition and we are sure to see it in Holland!" And what does Monique expect to be the biggest challenge at the WAC? She says, "The ever-growing competition on the small dog class, with some of the fiercest competitors being my teammates!" In addition to the exciting competition, Monique looks forward to "seeing international friends met through competitions and social media, [and] supporting my teammates as we all do our best."

Ivette and Zip. Photo courtesy of Brandon White.
Ivette lives in Half Moon Bay, California, with her approximately eight-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, Zip, who will accompany her to the WAC. Ivette, who is a Family Office Manager by occupation, has attended other international events in the past, including the IFCS Continental Championships of Europe in 2013. Like Monique, Ivette believes this will be an advantage: "I think that having previous international experience is helpful in the sense that I know what to expect with regards to how the events are organized and run; it gives me one less thing to worry about and I can focus on doing my best with my teammate." 

Ivette has been working on her mental game as part of her preparation for the WAC. "In order to get my head in the game, I have been practicing my mental management more in the last few weeks. We have also been entering some shows as this helps me work on my mental game," she says. She's also kept up her normal five-day-a-week routine at the gym to maintain her physical conditioning. In addition, shes been practicing with Zip. "Our amazing coach, Rachel Sanders, has given us sample courses of the judges we will see at the event so I have been setting up sequences from those courses to brush up on some challenges that we may see at the event," she says.

Ivette says that Zip has some strong points that will be helpful in international competition. She says, "Zip has the wonderful ability to turn on a dime as well as accelerate and decelerate very quickly. Many of these international courses have lots of open running between obstacles then very tight challenges at the end of a long run. If I give him the information correctly, he can handle these sequences well" 

When asked about the biggest challenges she expects to face at the event, Ivette says, "I think my biggest challenge will be keeping Zip well-rested and relaxed for the event. Zip is fairly high strung but soft dog. He tends to remain on 'high alert' throughout the day of these big events and doesn't always rest well. Keeping him fresh, happy, and motived is always my #1 priority with him." 

Ivette is excited about attending the WAC. She says, "I am really looking forward to watching my teammates perform well. I also enjoy watching the 'best of the best' from all over the world. These events are always so festive and exciting, I always leave the events feeling inspired to step up my game and keep reaching for the stars! Thanks to all my friends and family for their support and well wishes. Zip and I are so proud to represent the USA and know could not have made it here without you. Good luck to all my amazing teammates, go team USA!"

Stacy Bols and Krusher. Photo courtesy of Melissa Sheehan, True Colors Photography.

Stacy Bols and Krusher and Maureen Waldron and Michael are two of the Team USA 16" class members. Stacy and eight-year-old Miniature Schnauzer Krusher live in Roanoke, Texas, where Stacy works as an office manager. This will be Stacy's first international competition as a competitor (she attended a European event but could not compete because of Krusher's cropped ears). Even though she didn't get to compete, she feels that her previous international experience will be beneficial. She says, "Because of traveling all the way to the European Open and having to sit on the sidelines and watch, I gained a different perspective on the pressures of international competition. I look forward to getting to step to the line with Krusher on an international stage this time!"

Stacy has been preparing to make Krusher's international debut successful. "I attended the team practice in March and have been practicing some individual skills at home and short drills," Stacy says. Krusher already has some important skills that will help him on course. "Our strong points are our mental game and focus on running clean and efficiently! Of course, I get the butterflies at the start line, that is what it is all about. Taking that excitement into the ring and letting it push us, not hinder us, is a benefit as well."

Krusher had a recent health scare that has made Stacy feel quite emotional about having the opportunity to compete on Team USA. She says, "My biggest challenge will be trying not to cry too many happy tears. After Krusher was diagnosed with malignant Melanoma in December, I was not sure if he would be around to compete here. After sailing though radiation treatment and getting back into the ring, I really feel is he ready to rock the international stage. Getting to step to the line with this dog, representing Team USA and the Miniature Schnauzer breed is something I am very proud of." 

Photo courtesy of Karen Moureaux.
Maureen Waldron, a business system analyst who lives in Norristown, Pennsylvania, is no newbie to international competition. While her eight-year-old Shetland Sheepdog, Mickle, has been Maureen's partner in most of her international experiences, three-year-old Michael, also a Shetland Sheepdog, will be on the international stage at the WAC. Michael has also competed internationally before. Maureen believes that these experiences will help her at this year's big event. "I think I have learned a lot at these competitions, which has helped my mental game. I am able to focus on what's important and not allow my concentration be diverted by trivial things," she says. 

Maureen and Michael have been working to get ready for the World Agility Championships: "I have been preparing for WAC by studying the courses the judges have previously designed. I have set up some sequences or entire courses which I think would be challenging and finding ways to make them less challenging." Maureen believes that Snooker and Gamblers courses will provide the most challenging courses for her and Michael at the event. 

Maureen is excited about attending the IFCS WAC. She says, "I am really looking forward to working with the US team members, who are a very experienced group of handlers."

Mary Ellen Barry and Maizy. Photo courtesy of Ian Watts Photography.

Mary Ellen Barry and her six-year-old Border Collie, Maizy are part of the 22" US team. Mary Ellen is a dog agility trainer living in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Maizy is a veteran in international competition (as is her mother, Fizz!). Mary Ellen believes that being experienced in international competition will be a benefit at the WAC: "I think that it will help.... [Previous international experience] helps me focus on [myself] and my dog. I have learned that I can't control anything at the event other than my own performance."

Maizy has experienced some challenges going into this event. She's suffered from some minor injuries and illnesses over the last several months. This has made last minute WAC preparations challenging. Mary Ellen says, "I have been running courses with my older dog, E-Z and practicing skills with my younger dog, Z, so I still feel sharp with my timing. Maizy is an amazing dog and knows her job. I feel very confident she will give me her all." 

When asked about what challenges Mary Ellen expects to face at the event, she says, "European courses tend to be different than our courses in the US and, even with the Masters Challenge classes, I still feel that we don't get to run those types of courses on a regular basis, which puts the USA at a disadvantage over the European countries that run those courses all the time. But, we run Gamblers, Snooker and Team regularly, so I suppose it all evens out. The jetlag and time differences can be difficult as well. Again, I just try to focus on Maizy and I as that is all I can control." Mary Ellen believes that Maizy's balance of speed and accuracy will help her with the challenges of international competition.

Mary Ellen is looking forward to watching others at the competition. She's excited about "seeing the handlers from different countries tackle difficult courses and make it look easy."

Photo courtesy of USDAA.

Check back soon to meet more of Team USA!
The final dog and handler team highlighted in part one of the IFCS WAC Team USA members series is that of Terry Smorch and Presto. Presto will be jumping 26" at the event. Terry, who is a chemical engineer, and his eight-year-old Border Collie, Presto, live in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. The pair have extensive international experience, including being part of the 2012 IFCS World Agility Team USA. Terry says that the previous international experiences will be beneficial in many ways: "Having traveled a few times overseas has helped reduce travel stress because we are used to travel requirements and logistics at the event. Competing in a highly-charged atmosphere on international courses at those events makes them a lot less overwhelming for me. Having competed at those events gives me the confidence that Presto and I can handle the excitement and stress of these big events." 

Terry and Presto have been preparing for the WAC in various ways. Terry says, "I've looked at a lot of courses from the judges at the event and practiced key elements from those courses, as well as practicing gamble skills. The last few weeks has been spent on conditioning and getting ready for the trip." 

Terry plans to use his own considerable ground speed to get to key spots on the international courses. Presto's skills on course will also help the two be successful. Terry says, "Presto's strengths include turning tightly, following my shoulders and being responsive to cues." Terry says he doesn't have particular expectations as to what the biggest challenges will be during the event. He says, "We won't know until we see the courses! That's part of the fun!" Terry is also looking forward to "the atmosphere of the event, competing on a team representing USA, and experiencing the Netherlands."


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