During the recent PanAm Games there emerged a new name in the US National Team: Todd Strassberger (32), the only “Rookie” on the US team. If a new name comes out of nowhere, the press team of the IFA becomes interested to look it up on the internet and we Googled “Todd Strassberger”. We were flabbergasted when many reports and videos of Todd Strassberger appeared. We found huge numbers of listings in Volleyball databases and ranking lists. There is talk of beach volleyball pro and prizemoney – reasons enough for us to conduct an Interview with Todd.
Todd, who are you?
I am regular guy just trying my hardest to have fun, enjoy life and be the best person I can be in all aspects of my life. When it comes to sports I try to be the best athlete when I get the opportunity to play, and give full support to my teammates while on and off the field with them.
How did you come to fistball?
I came into fistball after my best friend Mat Ogin introduced me to the game and told me he was going to Austria and Switzerland for the 2011 World Championship. I watched Mat and the U.S. Team via the web in the 2011 World Championship and felt like I might be able to do well and help the U.S. Team if I started to play more seriously.
What’s fascinates you about fistball?
The sets are short played only to 11, losing a point means you get to serve, service comes from the 3 meter line, and the same player can serve every ball.
Where do you see the biggest differences to volleyball?
The game is to 11 which makes mistakes and earning points so critical per set. At a competitive level the points last longer and the game, in general, is slower because of the size of the playing area and the bounce between contacts, but players must also be fast because of the field’s size. The serve and the first touch are almost opposite for each sport regarding team strategy. In volleyball the more good servers a team has the better and the first touch, passing, can be done by the same three players or sometimes just two. In fistball a team might only have one excellent server, but the all players on the field need to be able to make a solid first touch because individual players can be picked out by the opposing team to receive the serve. Additionally players can only take one touch per three contacts on their side of the field which is a big difference regarding strategy.
What were your impressions at the PanAm Games at the end of August in Flanders NJ?
I thought SSC did and excellent job hosting the event with all the support from Bob Feid and the volunteers. I was very happy to see such a high level event played in the U.S.
What did you like the most and what surprised you?
I liked how well the U.S. team played the first day of the nations event especially. It was great to see how competitive we were with each country. I was surprised and impressed by the number of excellent players that were not on the national team from the clubs from Brazil.
How can you support the US Team with your experience in volleyball?
I feel playing at a very high level for a long period of time against professionals and playing through very close competitive matches could be very beneficial to the team. As a player I have had success as a serving specialist when playing indoor volleyball at the highest level I was able to play. Coming in off the bench for a handful of serves then returning to the bench was routine which can be a very difficult or an unusual task for many players. I think my experience in these areas could help the U.S. Team.
#4 – Team USA, Todd Strassberger
Fistball is played in the US by only a small number of competitors. What do you think has to happen – from your view – to entrench fistball in the US?
Youth programs are the key to getting more competitors involved for the future of the sport through schools and local clubs. Also the more players that play at a high level in the U.S. the more serious other athletes in the country will take the sport.
The Fistball World Championships are taking place in a few weeks in Argentina. How will you prepare yourself for this event?
Train with the team as many times as possible and with teammates from the east coast prior to leaving for Argentina. Also keeping up with physical condition as our outdoor sports season is coming to an end.
What’s your special role on the team?
I would like to say serving specialist, but we will see how the team plays and what situations I am used in. I would also hope to help keep teammates positive about their own abilities during the tournament.
The US team consists of players from the east coast and of players from Wisconsin. How do you prepare yourself as a team for the World Championship?
We have been meeting on average about once a month for the last 9-10 months along with local practicing at each of our clubs. This has been difficult, but when we play together the level is much higher and I can tell all the players have been improving.
This will be your first World Championships in Argentina. You got your first foretaste of the international fistball competition at the PanAm Games. What are you looking forward to the most?
I have been working hard to be able to play the best in the world who will be at this championship on the fistball field. I am looking forward to all the additional countries that will be at the world championships; some from what I have heard are expected to be better than the South American Teams and some maybe not as strong.
Thank you very much for the Interview. Good luck in Argentina Todd and Team USA!