Q&A with Boston Breakers General Manager Lee Billiard

(Dec. 16, 2014) - Monday night, we conducted a question and answer session with Breakers General Manager Lee Billaird on Twitter. Using the hashtag #AskTheBreakersGM, fans submitted questions throughout the hour-long segment. Here is a transcript of the event.

(Dec. 16, 2014) - Monday night, we conducted a question and answer session with Breakers General Manager Lee Billaird on Twitter. Using the hashtag #AskTheBreakersGM, fans submitted questions throughout the hour-long segment. Here is a transcript of the event.

Q: A Harvard stadium worker told me last Summer they're putting down new turf in January. Is that true?

A: There are developments happening at Harvard, that includes a PROPOSED turf update on the football field.

Q: Do you consult with college coaches to ask them who their best players are, as research for the NWSL draft?

A: Very much. Important to know players off field characteristics and how they practice.

Q: How many of the new Brazilian players do you realistically expect to be away on WWC (Women's World Cup) duty?

A: Right now the expectation is to have one who will be involved. That could change but that is what we expect.

Q: Hi, Lee. What did you see as overriding factors for last season's poor results?

A: We had to try fill a couple of holes really late on that took us some time to do and solve, longer than we wanted. Looking at stats, we also gave away 20+ points from winning positions.

Q: What’s your plan for moving past “marketing to low-hanging fruit” & engaging adults/other diverse groups?

A: We will be focusing on this for 2015 We are investing more money into marketing and a couple owners are being more engaged in this process.

Q: How soon do you think we might see a homegrown rule in NWSL, if ever?

A: It was spoken about for 2015. I wanted it, obviously. It won't happen for 2015, but I believe it will in the future.

Q: What is "the homegrown rule"? I've never heard of it.

A: In short, (it) allows teams to gain the rights of players who are locally developed.

Q: How much leeway (do) teams have to complain to NWSL/PRO about bad refs? Any concrete plans to improve quality?

A: Teams can file red assessments, and PRO do a good job of evaluating those specific complaints/games.

Q: What's being done to where men who don't have kids will be interested in your program and the game?

A: Making sure we have an exciting on-field product. Soccer is soccer (in my opinion). If it's good, it attracts all (people).

Q: Do you/league have any level of demo data (and) if so, how much does this data drive marketing?

A: Both do. We are developing our new marketing plans around the most recent data we collected.

Q: On the flip side, are you also going to be more aggressive with YSP packages?

A: YSP's have grown each year and are currently our most successful packages.

Q: What is the time frame on the updated website?

A: We are transferring old content to (the) new site now, hopefully live by end of this week.

Q: Will Mollie Pathman be returning? I hope so, I thought she was great.

A: Yes. Mollie has been re-signed and we are excited to have her back.

Q: Are the Breakers staying at Harvard or moving to a better sized venue?

A: We have something in the works that I cannot give much info on right now.

Q: How much communication is their between teams and players leading up to the draft? Can you interview players?

A: A lot is done through the college coach, but we can communicate with players. Always good to know their thoughts before the draft.

Q: Other team coaches are very involved in social media, any plans to get Tom (Durkin) involved?

A: We are ramping up our social media and video, so you will be seeing and hearing from Tom more.

Q: How much are you looking forward to seeing the new Brazilians play (and) what attributes will they bring?

A: Very much so, (and) talent, flair, and goals!

Q: How can fans far away (distance) be more involved with the Breakers?

A: To support us/players, you can purchase tickets and donate them to our inner city campaign. Also, spreading the word and getting eye balls on the streamed games. Boosting numbers helps our brand and the growth of the NWSL.

Q: There's buzz about custom jerseys this year, does that apply to Breakers?

A: it is limited customization, but we have gone with an option that is not 'standard.'

Q: Think with the Brazilian speed and a solid defense being built you can see a winning season?

A: That, tied in with the other players filling the roster, we are targeting on minimum playoffs as expectation.

Q: Which member of the staff is learning Portuguese?

A: Tom (Durkin) speaks fluent Portuguese, and they are learning English.

Q: Longer term, how about the Breakers and (New England Revolution) work together on a dedicated soccer pitch in Boston?

A: Would be ideal. Not sure how quickly we can be there financially, but as a major tenant, makes sense!

Q: How about a double header (with) the Revs at Gillette in the interim? Great way to cross sell to passionate fans!

A: It would be and has been discussed. Something we will follow up on with Revs in more detail.

Q: Is there any plan to get the pro team players more involved with the academy teams and players?

A: A big yes! Pro players will be more visible and involved as mentors.

Q: What do you think is most important for fans to know after this Q&A?

A: We are a small business, one that is growing. The WPS (money) is not available now, so we have to grow slowly and strategically in order to be sustainable as an organization and league. (It) requires support, but both are heading (in) the right direction. We are closer to profitable, which we have never been. Forecasts are we will be in 2016. We, the league, these players, need fans to continue (to) support and spread the word. The plans are in place for a long-lasting and growing women's professional soccer league.

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