Over three years after Austin FC was announced as an upcoming MLS team, Head Coach Josh Wolff spoke with the media on Tuesday about the team's first days on the pitch.
The team is now two days down with official preseason training as the team prepares for their inaugural season starting April 17. Wolff said that it is satisfying to finally make it onto the field after years of work.
"There's a lot of people that put in a lot of work over the past two years for us to get us to this point," Wolff said. "For it to finally come to fruition and be out the field with the guys this last week... it's great."
Wolff talked leadership, strategy and player health in the team's first-ever preseason press conference. Here's a few key takeaways on the state of the club:
Wolff has described his leadership style as "being detailed and disciplined and having energy," and said he's happy to have both experienced and young players on the team.
"I want a dynamic group that's hungry and eager to play," Wolff said. "We want to play a certain way that's going to take a bit of bravery and courage."
With players from all levels of experience and all corners of the globe, Wolff said their initial strategy has been unifying player strategies by focusing on offense.
"I think the first thing is trying to get the players to understand philosophically how we want to play, that the ball is our friend and we want to possess the game," Wolff said. "That's the starting point, to sort of bridge all of these different ideas and personalities together into a collective mold."
When finding a unifying team culture, Wolff said it's important for team leadership to help embody Austin FC standards.
"You certainly want to set the standard quickly," Wolff said. "It starts with the environment of our leadership, our coaches, our front office, and that's something that we bleed into the team."
Wolff said that no team captain has been announced but that there are plenty of players who carry leadership qualities.
"I think we've done a good job bringing in a lot of players that exude that leadership quality... and that helps build out our identity," Wolff said. "I don't think we'll be short on leadership options."
While no captains have been released, forwards Rodney Redes and Cecilio Dominguez have been standouts in the first two days of training. Redes, who was filmed scoring a goal in a team video, has been described as having great energy on and off the field.
"Rodney's always smiling (and) he works tirelessly," Wolff said. "His verticality, to run behind lines, to arrive in the penalty box, I think that's the most impressive."
Wolff said that Dominguez, who has been training as an attacking midfielder and can play both inside and wing positions, has great position flexibility.
"Most importantly, he's got great energy, but his ability to hear what we're trying to teach and apply it quickly is nice to see," Wolff said. "What you like about him is his calm and cleverness, his mobility and movements in and around the box and his desire to score goals."
Recruits, injuries and transfer updates
With 23 players on its roster, Wolff said that their senior roster is "near completion" but that they will continue to look for supplemental players throughout the season.
The team is currently missing two signed players: designated player Tomas Pochettino and young Slovenian defender Zan Kolmanic. While Pochettino should be available next week, Wolff is unsure when Kolmanic will make it into town.
Luckily, no players have injuries that should sustain into the season so far (knock on wood), and Wolff said that the team is fairly healthy.
Although ATXFC is finally on the field, Wolff said he doesn't know if they'll ever feel a "we made it" moment unless a trophy is lifted.
"It's a testament of where we've come as a club and an organization in a short time," Wolff said. "You're able to get out on the field which is certainly a pinnacle of all the work that we've done, but it's just the beginning."
While no official schedule has been announced, it is rumored that the MLS will announce home openers Wednesday afternoon with full team schedules to be released in coming weeks.
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Last fall, Janneke Parrish was pushing hard in her advocacy at Apple. She wanted to see flexibility with remote work, pay equity and for Apple to respond to Texas’ six-week abortion ban with paid time off and coverage for the procedure under the company’s health insurance plan.
Then, in October last year, she was fired.
Parrish, who lives in Round Rock and worked at Apple’s Austin campus as an Apple Maps program manager for about five years, is a leader of an internal movement at the tech giant. It comes at a time when the company is expanding its local presence with a new $1 billion Northwest campus with space for 5,000 employees.
Parrish worked at this Apple campus on West Parmer Lane. (Steven Joyner)
In August, the movement known as #AppleToo launched a website with the goal of organizing employees and sharing stories about alleged workplace harassment and discrimination. Austonia talked to Parrish and another former Apple employee who are part of the movement about their claims in what they observed while working for Apple.
“I’ve been advocating for members of my immediate team within Apple for several years,” Parrish said. “And when I realized that the issues that I was seeing with my own team were true throughout Apple, there was a natural transition toward, ok let’s expand this advocacy and instead be more of an advocate for everybody at Apple to ensure that we the workers at Apple are treated fairly and equitably and get treated as human beings.”
In the lead-up to her firing, Parrish faced an allegation that she had leaked details from a recent all-hands meeting to the Verge. She says she suspects it’s this, along with her advocacy, that influenced Apple’s decision to fire her.
“I didn’t do (the leak). And I know that Apple knows I didn’t do this,” Parrish said since a few employees including herself didn’t have access to that meeting due to a system crash that day. “I was still placed under investigation.”
As a requirement of the investigation, Parrish turned in her work devices. Before doing so, she wiped the files from her computer, saying she didn’t want her personal files on Apple servers. After a few days on paid suspension, she says human resources called and told her she’d been terminated with the reason being that she’d deleted those files.
Parrish is one of the leaders of the AppleToo movement. (Janneke Parrish)
Before Parrish’s firing, Apple was taking action on leaks and workplace organizing. An internal memo from 2018 noted a number of leakers they had caught were arrested. About a month before Parrish was fired, the tech giant had fired a senior engineering program manager for allegedly leaking confidential information. And in a September note, CEO Tim Cook sent a note to all Apple employees saying “people who leak confidential information do not belong” at Apple.
Austonia asked Apple about Parrish’s case and other matters at the company. In an email reply, the company said:
“We are and have always been deeply committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive workplace. We take all concerns seriously and we thoroughly investigate whenever a concern is raised and, out of respect for the privacy of any individuals involved, we do not discuss specific employee matters.”
Another piece of Parrish’s advocacy involved career opportunities for workers, particularly those based in Austin.
Even though Apple upped their presence in Austin in recent years, Parrish said Austin-area employees couldn’t enjoy networking opportunities like California workers did as Apple events were held on the West Coast. Texan Apple workers shouldn’t have to relocate to move up, she said.
“For those of us in Austin, I noticed, especially for my department, my career options were extremely limited,” Parrish said. “I was told by a manager that if I really wanted to advance in my career, I would have to move out to California.”
Parrish said Apple employees in Austin do not have the same career opportunities as those in California. (Shutterstock)
Austonia spoke to another member of the organizing group AppleToo. She requested anonymity to not hinder future job prospects in the tech industry. She’ll be identified with the pseudonym Mary.
Mary said she’s worked at Apple since 2008 in Austin, starting off as a contractor in customer support at iTunes and moving around over the years, leaving the tech giant earlier this month.
“It’s too hard to advance and there are no opportunities for development so (I was) just kind of stuck in a dead-end job,” Mary said.
Mary felt that another challenge was being a woman at a tech company. Starting out, she says she was the lowest paid in a training class of mostly men with pay of around $30,000, which rose to about $55,000 by the time she left.
But aside from pay, communication also proved to be a hurdle. To make her persona appear gender-neutral, she changed how her name was displayed on Slack, the interoffice directory and over email to just her first initial.
“The hard part was when I would have to get into a meeting with people then I felt like my voice is giving me away now,” Mary said. “But when I could avoid having meetings, I felt like it did make a difference.”
Mary says there’s been some movement in the right direction. An internal memo in November affirmed employees’ right to discuss pay after it had shut down employee-run pay equity surveys and an employee-run Slack channel. Earlier this month, it announced new efforts in a racial equity and justice initiative.
“We all want to see positive changes from Apple,” Mary said. “We all want them to look at wage disparities. We’d like to see more diversity—more minorities in leadership positions, more females in leadership positions.”
Still, Mary feels there’s more to be done. “I wish Apple was more responsive at making bigger changes,” she said.
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The Texas French Bread Bakery, located on 2900 Rio Grande Street, has been completely destroyed after a fire erupted on Monday night.
The Austin Fire Department responded to the fire just before 11 p.m., where they arrived to see flames coming from the roof of the bakery. Firefighters fought the fire for about an hour before the roof collapsed.
While no one was injured in the fire, firefighters say the historic building was completely totaled.
Texas French Bread just went up in flames pic.twitter.com/agXqKN3c00
— Jordan (@AimIessFriend) January 25, 2022
AFD determined that the fire was accidental and caused by mechanical failure. AFD said the damages amounted to $1.6 million total: $1.1 million in structural damage and $500,000 in damage to the contents of the bakery.
This year, Texas French Bread will celebrate 40 years of business. Before the bakery occupied the building, it was the Rome Inn, a music venue that hosted 1970s artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan.