2014 United States Fistball Women’s Team – Dresden World Championship
The United States Fistball Association (USFA) has named the 8 individuals to the U.S. Women’s Fistball team. The national team will compete at the 2014 Fistball World Championship in Dresden between July 30th – August 3rd. The team is made up of select individuals from across the country – greater areas of Milwaukee, Newark and Philadelphia.
The U.S. coaching staff is a three headed monster featuring the brilliant Brazilian mastermind Gastão Englert, the Phoenix Fistball patriarch Steven Groeber, and US Men’s team member and volleyball professional Mat Ogin.
2014 Coach & Player Profiles
Courtney Abel, Roslyn, PA
Jersey: # 1
Home: Roslyn, PA
Birth Year: 1990
Height: 5-7 (171cm)
Dominant Hand: Right
College: Cabrini College
Courtney Abel was born June 29, 1990 to Joseph and Christine Abel. Courtney grew up in Roslyn, Pennsylvania and graduated from Archbishop Wood High School in 2008. She continued her education as a Cavalier at Cabrini College majoring in Chemistry with a concentration in Education and played libero on the volleyball team. Courtney is currently a Chemistry Teacher at Pennsbury High School where she also coaches bowling. Although she is terrified of heights, Courtney loves amusement rides. She is also an animal lover, especially when it comes to her dog Naca. Courtney’s pre-game mix will include everything from Whitney Houston to Ludacris to N’Sync to any country song because she loves them all. Keep an eye out for Courtney’s pre-game Star-Spangled Banner rituals like looking at a certain part of the United States flag and standing a certain way.Courtney began playing fistball in 2013 for Phoenix Sport Club when a teammate introduced her to the sport after sensing she would be an asset to the team. She is a 5’7” right-handed back. Courtney is excited to see the competition between other teams overseas as well as the camaraderie between the U.S. team. She thinks the U.S. team will show a lot of heart and enthusiasm. Courtney says that, “Although I am probably the biggest goofball on the team, I have a serious competitive side to me. I hate to be wrong about things, and I hate to lose.” This attitude will help her team in Europe. She is hoping that this first foray into international competition by U.S. women will draw more people to the sport.
Tricia Groeber, Haddonfield, NJ
Jersey: # 3
Home: Haddonfield, NJ
Birth Year: 1984
Height: 5-2 (160cm)
Dominant Hand: Right
College: West Virginia UniversityPatricia “Tricia” Groeber was born January 30, 1984 to Steve and Diane Groeber. Tricia grew up in Cinnaminson, New Jersey. She attended West Virginia University where she earned her Bachelors of Science in Nursing in 2006. She is currently a Labor and Delivery Nurse at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Tricia loves the outdoors and activities like hiking, kayaking and skiing. You can expect to hear everything from American country to rock to pop to classical on her pre-game mix.
Tricia is a 5’2” right-handed back player. She has been playing fistball since she was 5 years old for Phoenix Sports Club and has played in every position. She began playing the sport when her mother needed another player for the kid’s team. She continues to play for, “the diversity of skills needed including power, swiftness and strategy.” Tricia has been to Europe once before, in high school, but feels as though she will appreciate it more this time and is excited to see the high level of competition overseas. She is hoping that by being a member of the first U.S. Women’s Fistball Team it will motivate others to continue this journey in the future.
Alex Buehning, Berkeley Heights, NJ
Alex Buehning was born on May 8, 1992 to Peter and Laurie Buehning. She is from Berkeley Heights, New Jersey and graduated from Governor Livingston High School in 2010. In the fall of 2014, Alex will enter her final year as an Architecture major at Auburn University. Alex spent a semester in rural west Alabama designing and building projects in impoverished communities. From this experience, she learned skills such as pouring foundations, hanging drywall and welding.
Alex is a 5’7” right-handed defensive player who plays club for Swim and Sport Club in Flanders, New Jersey. She has been a member of the club since birth and began playing fistball at age 5 because it was always something her family did for fun every weekend in the summers. As she got older the sport became more competitive and she saw many opportunities for improvement. Alex is grateful for the fistball community friendships because even the strongest of opponents on the field can be considered family off of the field. Alex’s father competed at the Olympics in Team Handball and is one of the driving forces behind her attitude because his experiences and reassurances allow him to critique her appropriately due to his international experience as an underdog. She has never been abroad and is excited by the opportunity for the growth this experience is giving her, her teammates and the USFA. Alex would love to see more spectators come out to fistball games because, “It has the finesse and technicality of sports like tennis, yet the physicality and excitement of sports like soccer and volleyball. People become intrigued the minute they see fistball because it is unlike any sport they have seen before, in a good way!”
Ashley Sledzinski, Elizabethtown, PA
Ashley Sledzinski was born on November 24, 1988 to Vince and Cindy Sledzinski and is from Elizabethtown, PA (located in a county that did not have a stoplight until a few years ago). She graduated from West Perry High School in 2007. Ashley then attended Shippensburg University and majored in Marketing and Management, graduating in 2011. She is currently a commercial underwriter for Liberty Mutual Insurance. Ashley has never been out of the United States, has two dogs- Dominic the Boxer and Koda the Husky, and her pregame mix will feature N’Sync and Britney Spears.
Ashley is a 5’7” right-handed defensive player. Ashley began playing fistball because she saw a post on Facebook about the Women’s National Team and wanted to give it a shot. She stood out to team members immediately as an athlete and was asked to be part of the team. Ashley has dreamed of being a member of a United States team since she was a child and she is now pursuing that dream. When asked about what drives her to continue training and competing she quoted Mia Hamm, “I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion.” Not many people get the opportunity to play for and represent their country and Ashley is excited to play with a great group of girls who drive her to better herself and her game.
Bonnie Zobel, Emmaus, PA
Home: Emmaus, PA
Birth Year: 1986
Height: 5-5 (168cm)
Dominant Hand: Right
College: Delaware Valley College/Holy Family UniversityBonnie Zobel was born on November 24, 1986 to Glen and Chris Zobel. Bonnie graduated from William Tennent High School in Warminster, Pennsylvania in 2004. She then ventured onto college where she played volleyball and majored in Biology at Delaware Valley College. In 2008, she graduated and decided she wanted to teach. She went on to receive her Masters in Education from Holy Family University in 2010. She is currently a Biology and Chemistry teacher at Emmaus High School. Bonnie is a huge American football fan, loves dogs, loves the beach, and you can expect to hear “Ten Thousand Fists” by Disturbed on her warm up mix. She lives her life by the quote, “Your biggest challenge isn’t someone else. It is the ache in your lungs and the burning in your legs. It’s the voice inside you that yells ‘can’t’, but you don’t listen. You just push harder. Then you hear the voice whisper ‘can’, and you discover the person you thought you were is no match for the one you are.”
Bonnie has been playing fistball since 1992 for Phoenix Swim and Sport Club in Feasterville, Pennsylvania. She is a 5’5”, right-handed setter. Her mother got her into the sport, as she has been playing since the 1970’s. Bonnie wants more people to come out and watch/play fistball because the vast majority of people do not know that fistball exists, let alone what it entails, and so many people want to play after they realize the fun and competitive nature of the sport. She is hoping that by representing the United States in the 2014 Women’s World Championship of Fistball more awareness is brought to the sport in the U.S.A and the sport will expand. She is excited about the whole experience and cannot wait to see herself grow as a player and everyone grow as a team. “This has really been a group effort- from team members, to coaches, to parents, to friends, to supporters and I hope I can make them proud,” is how she sums up preparation for the World Championships.
Kristie Keating, Cherry Hill, NJ
Home: Cherry Hill, NJ
Birth Year: 1990
Height: 5-5 (168cm)
Dominant Hand: Right
College: Rutgers University-CamdenKristine “Kristie” Keating was born on August 18, 1990 to Patti and Ed Keating. She is from Cherry Hill, New Jersey and graduated in 2008 from Cherry Hill High School West. Kristie continued her education at Rutgers University-Camden where she graduated in 2014 with a degree in Marketing. She is currently an allocator for Burlington Coat Factory. Kristie has never been on an airplane, let alone overseas.
Kristie is a 5’5” right-handed striker. She began playing for Phoenix Sport Club in 2013 when a teammate introduced her to the sport at volleyball practices. She was attracted to the sport because it was different. Being a newer member to the sport has allowed Kristie to develop correct technique from the get go which is largely beneficial. She sees the team’s biggest challenge, in terms of competition in Europe, as being the intimidation factor of a large audience and overcoming the unknown feeling they will have because they never played in front of thousands of fistball fans. The fan base in the United States tends to be mainly friends and family. Kristie feels that, “Once we experience our first international competition as a team, we will come back from our trip hungry and ready to begin training for the next World Championship!”
Sadie Beacham, Germantown, WI
Home: Germantown, WI
Birth Year: 1976
Height: 5-8 (174cm)
Dominant Hand: Right
College: University of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeSadie Beacham was born on April 20, 1976 to Chuck and Debra Beacham and is from Germantown, Wisconsin. She graduated from Hartford Union High School in 1994 and then attended UW-Milwaukee Wisconsin to earn her Bachelors in Education, American Sign Language Interpreting and Deaf Studies in 2009. Sadie is currently an outpatient case manager for the Washington County Mental Health Center. Typically, when asked what is interesting about her, Sadie responds with, “Playing a sport called fistball…” She also loves country music, line dancing, riding motorcycles, camping, and she is addicted to cheese (a true Wisconsin gal). On her pregame mix, expect to hear a variety of “dancey” music including Keith Urban, Godsmack, Pink, Ke$ha, Flo-rida, Daft Punk, Tool, Luke Bryan and Miranda Lambert.
Sadie is a 5’8” right-handed striker. She joined her club, the Cougars, in 1998 and began playing fistball because a lot of her friends would play on Sundays and asked her to join. She was immediately drawn to the technique of using one arm to hit the ball and the unpredictability of the bounce on the ground. She was humbled by the difficulty and skill needed to play the sport and she has been hooked ever since. The greatest challenge for Sadie when preparing for the 2014 World Championship is living in Wisconsin away from her east coast teammates. Keeping a positive attitude and knowing her and her teammates are in it for the same goal keeps her grounded and focused on working hard over 850 miles away. “Although it has taken quite a few years since the U.S. Men’s team has competed overseas to send the first women’s team, I am so excited and honored to be part of the first U.S. Women’s Fistball Team to compete internationally,” summarizes Sadie’s enthusiasm and determination. She hopes that by continuing to train and compete she can inspire other young women and girls to try something new, never give up, and work to get what they want.
Kay Crosby, Voorhies Township, NJ
Katherine “Kay” Crosby was born on August 26, 1990, to Jim and Maureen Crosby. She grew up in Marlton, New Jersey, where she graduated from Cherokee High School in 2008. She attended college at Rutgers University – Camden, where she played volleyball and majored in accounting. She is employed by ACE Group, where she works in finance and risk management. In addition to playing fistball, she enjoys playing volleyball, baking, sewing, and being outdoors. She plans to listen to classic and indie hip-hop to get pumped up during her pre-game warm-up!
Kay is a 5’9”, right-handed striker. She started playing fistball at Phoenix Sports Club in 2010. The highlight of her fistball career was being selected to the US National Team. While this endeavor has required a significant commitment of time and finances, she appreciates all of the sacrifices her teammates, friends, and family have made to make this dream possible. Kay is looking forward to taking women’s fistball in the United States to the next level by competing in international competition for the first time. She thinks the experience will prove beneficial to the program in the future.
Mat Ogin, Coach/Trainer
Home: Sewell, NJ
Birth Year: 1983
Height: 6-8 (204cm)
Dominant Hand: Right
College: Rowan University
Joined Team: 2010
Fistball Competition: The 2011 Obersee Masters in Jona, Switzerland and the 2011 World Championships in Austria were Mat’s first taste of major international fistball competitions… Has been playing competitive fistball since 2010…Ogin plays for the Phoenix Club Fistball team in the Eastern Fistball Association where his team was the 2010,2011,2012,and 2013 EFA champions
Personal: Mathew Ogin born on June 5, 1983 in Hazleton, PA…Parents are Bonnie and Howard Ogin… Mat graduated from Washington Township High School (NJ) in 2001…Graduated from Rowan University in 2005 where he is majored in Language, Arts, and Education…Names fistball, indoor and beach volleyball as his favorite competitive sports…Currently works ACE Group Insurance Company and has previous coaching experience from serving as the Head Coach of the Rutgers-Camden women’s volleyball team…Mat played for the men’s AA division national championship volleyball team at the 2011 US indoor championships…Ogin and partner Gregory Hunter qualified for multiple AVP beach volleyball tournaments by winning qualifier tournaments and he has been ranked in the top 100 beach volleyball players dating as far back as 2007.
Gastão Englert, Coach/Trainer
Bachelor Degree in Physical Education – UFRGS (1988).
Specialization at The German Sport University – Koln – DSHS, Deutsche Sporthochschule Köln (1988 to 1989).
Gastão has achieved 17 world championships while playing/coaching fistball…3 as Fistball Player…14 as Fistball Coach of Brazilian Men’s & Women’s Teams…Joined Team USA Coaching Staff in 2012…Loves to Play & Teach the Sport of Fistball
Previously Coached both the men’s and women’s Brazilian National Teams…Technical Consultant and Manager of the Catalonian team (Spain), Colombian team, Cuban Team and overall ambassador for the sport of fistball…Technical and development director of the Brazilian Fistball Confederation…Sports management and quality consultant…3rd. Sector: Tennis Foundation General Coordinator…
Youngest World Champion coach in the Fistball history (33 years, 1 month and 11 days old).
Coach with the highest number of World Championships in the Fistball history (13 times).
Twice World Cup champion (Switzerland 1999 and Brazil 2003).
World Vice-champion, 2007 (Germany).
9 times World Cup champion.
World Games Champion, 2009 (Kaohsiung – Taiwan).
2 silver medals and 1 bronze medal in the World Games, (Japan 2001, Germany 2005 and Finland 1997 respectively).
13 times South American champion (clubs and teams).
Steven Groeber, Coach/Trainer
Steve is the Phoenix Club Fistball patriarch. He took it upon himself organize, develop, and promote the first US Women’s fistball team. In addition to coaching the women’s team, Steve is an active member of the USFA Board of Directors and a lifelong member of the Phoenix fistball club and the Eastern Fistball Association. Steve has aided the growth of fistball in the US as much as anyone.