Player with the Wisconsin Fistball Association and member of the US Fistball squad.
Eric, the Men’s US National Team has partaken in the Men’s World Championships in 1999, 2007 and 2011 and at least one of your family members has been with them at each competition. Your father Reinhard and your uncle Manfred in 1999, then your cousin Josh, uncle Manfred and yourself in 2007. And you were there as a player and your father as a Coach in 2011. How important is fistball in your family?
Eric: Ever since I was young, fistball was a part of my life. My Oma and Opa were some of the first people in Wisconsin to start playing fistball on a regular basis. Through the years my Dad (Reinhard) played on a number of teams and eventually created Rampage Fistball Club in which I started playing on when I was 9 years old. Since then my life has been intertwined with fistball through my family and through enjoyment of the sport at multiple levels. Still to this day many of my family either plays or comes to watch our league games.
In 2007 after the world championships, my father and a few other people that were very involved with the international side of fistball created the United States Fistball Association (USFA) which now many of you know is the organization that is running the 1st Pan-American Games in late August this year with the help of the New Jersey club SSC. It is quite amazing how far we have come since 2007 and we are excited to continue to grow fistball at all ages and levels in the United States. I personally dream of someday having fistball played as a major sport in schools and in colleges similarly to volleyball or basketball. Some exciting news we have as USFA is that we have a few schools that regularly practice fistball after school or even have it in their lesson plan.
You were a successful football player as a student at the University of Wisconsin and you won several national titles with the Whitewater Warhawks. What do you like especially about American football and about fistball?
Eric: I was very fortunate to be able to compete for multiple national championships with American football and the atmosphere of the championship game is something I will love and cherish forever. At this point for fistball, I only can dream of the day when we can compete in the finals of a World Championship. A few other things that I love about fistball is the intensity of the game and the excitement of playing well together as a team and showing that all the time invested in training has paid off.
4 years ago, the US men got a good 9th place with their great fighting spirit and unified team performance in Austria. Can we expect another improved performance from the US team in 2015?
Eric: Most definitely! Same as with all other national teams, the USFA has enabled us to train thoroughly over the past 4 years year round to build off our successes and failures of the World Championship in 2011. One of our big goals this time around is to make it to the World Games and we feel that this time we could possibly achieve this. We definitely understand that this is not an easy task.
The PanAm Games with teams from Brazil, Argentina, Columbia, Chile and the US will take place in the middle of August for the first time in Flanders near New York. That’s the biggest tournament that has taken place in the US so far. Will the final selection of the US team for the World Championships happen afterwards? How do you see your chances to be a part of it?
Eric: At this point, the tryouts for the US National Team already happened in the early part of this year and the team has been selected. I can proudly say that I have made the team and US will return 9 of our 10 players from the past World Championships hoping that the experience will help push the team deeper into the tournament.
Which position are you going to play?
Eric: At this point it is unclear, but I will very involved no matter how we choose our lineup. Unlike past years, we have some depth in multiple positions and we will be able to interchange on the field players and use substitutes effectively.
Is this your first trip to Argentina? What do you know about the country and its people?
Eric: I have not been to Argentina yet and honestly I do not know much about them other than they speak Spanish. I did spend a month in Brazil the year after the past world championships to train with Gastão Englert our Coach and I probably got a good idea of what it could be like in Argentina. I definitely can’t wait to compete as well as experience the culture and the sights!
Thank you very much Eric for answering all our questions and “Hasta luego!”
Eric: Thank you very much for the opportunity to share our position in the US.
(Questions translated by Jana P. – Fistball Federation of Australia)