Menu Close

USA U-18 Girls National Fistball Team

2016 United States Fistball U-18 Girls National Team – Eibach, Germany World Championship

USA U-18 Girls Fistball Team 2016
(L to R): Delegation Leader Bob Feid, Asst Coach Lara Goetz, Valerie Houghton, Olivia Woodruff, Captain Christine Connelly, Kayley Moran, Kelli Vogel, Bayleigh Takacs, Alexx Berdej, Kate Tagliareni, Head Coach Steven Groeber Not Pictured: Kumali Schoen and Asst Coach Amy Miller

The United States Fistball Association (USFA) has named the 9 individuals to the U.S. U-18 Girl’s Fistball team. The national team will compete at the 2016 U-18 Fistball World Championship in Eibach which is a borough of Nuremberg, Germany between July 21th – July 24th. The team is made up of select girls from New Jersey and California. The U-18 Championships have an IFA website and a Facebook page.

The U.S. coaching staff is a four headed monster led by the Phoenix Fistball patriarch and U-18 Head Coach Steven Groeber, Eibach, Germany’s own Lara Goetz, Phoenix Fistball Veteran Amy Miller, USFA President Bob Feid, and Brazilian fistball expert Gastão Englert.

2016 Coach & Player Profiles


Valerie Houghton, Maplewood, NJ

1 Valerie Houghton
Jersey # 1
Home: Maplewood, NJ
Birth Year: 2001
Position: Defense
Height: 5’7” (170cm)
Dominant Hand: Right
High School: Columbia HS
Nickname: Val

Valerie Houghton was born June 15, 2001 to Kenneth and Shira Houghton. In addition to fistball, Val keeps busy with competitive swimming, Model UN, ultimate frisbee, and volleyball. Off the field, she takes her academics seriously, earning Honorable Mention in the National Spanish exam as well as the Presidents Education Award. Val is a Junior Olympian in competitive swimming, a certified life guard, and her favorite athlete is Olympic swimming gold medalist Ryan Lochte. She’s inspired by her friends and family and her inspirational quote is “Fly like a butterfly and sting like a bee”. When she’s not in a classroom, court, pool, or field, Valerie volunteers her time at a local food pantry, works with civil rights activists, and raises money to combat malaria. In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out with friends, watching the Yankees, and listening to One Direction & Taylor Swift. Val first learned of fistball from her volleyball coach and has been playing fistball less than one year.

Olivia Woodruff, Maplewood, NJ

2 Olivia Woodruff Picture
Jersey # 2
Home: Maplewood, NJ
Birth Year: 2000
Position: Defense
Height: 5’11” (180cm)
Dominant Hand: Right
High School: Columbia HS
Nickname: Liv

Liv Woodruff was born March 24, 2000, to Lisa and Greg Woodruff in Livingston, NJ. She currently lives in Maplewood, NJ, the hometown of another unique sport, Ultimate Frisbee. She is the captain of her school’s Ultimate Frisbee Club. Liv is interested in studying marine biology in college, and likes to spend time hanging out with her friends.

Liv has only taken up Fistball this year when she learned about it from a friend on her Ultimate team. She likes to listen to feel good, pump up music before matches and draws inspiration as an athlete from her sister’s friend and college Ultimate Frisbee player, Sadie Jezerski. She is inspired by the phrase, “Everything happens for a reason” and finds fulfillment in helping those less fortunate than her by volunteering with the Appalachian Service Project, an organization that helps to refurbish and build structures in the mountains of Appalachia. She looks forward to visiting Germany and meeting and playing with many young women from around the world.

Kelli Vogel, Sparta, NJ

5 Kelli Vogel
Jersey: # 5
Home:  Sparta, NJ
Birth Year: 1999
Position: Defense
Height: 5’6″ (168cm)
Dominant Hand: Right
High School: Sparta HS
Nickname: Kel

Kelli Vogel was born on September 18, 1999 to MaryPat and Jake Vogel and currently resides in Sparta, NJ. At 16, Kelli has already earned her varsity letter in Lacrosse at Sparta High School. In her free time she enjoys hanging out with her friends, playing sports, watching the New York Jets, and listening to pop music. Kelli volunteers at One Step Closer Animal Rescue (OSCAR) which is a non-profit rescue organization that saves dogs and cats from desperate situations.

Kelli’s inspired by her family and friends and her favorite athlete is Misty May-Treanor because she makes volleyball look so easy. Although she’s only been playing fistball for 6 months, Kelli believes “Hard work pays off”.

Kumali Schoen, Santa Cruz, CA

8 Kumali Schoen Closeup
Jersey: # 8
Home:  Santa Cruz, CA
Birth Year: 2001
Position: Defense
Height: 5’6″ (168cm)
Dominant Hand: Right
High School: Santa Cruz HS

In addition to playing fistball, Kumali Schoen enjoys running, high jump, baking, reading, and traveling. In her spare time Kumali works as a baby sitter and volunteers her time within the community. Kumali’s best fistball experience so far has been discovering and learning fistball with my determined, outgoing father, my curious, energetic younger brother, and building up the first California fistball team. She’s been to Germany several times, but never to Bavaria and she’s looking forward to this visit! When asked about playing fistball, Kumali stated, “It’s enormous fun, active and challenging!”


Alexx Berdej, Roxbury Township, NJ

9 Alexx Berdej
Jersey: # 9
Home:  Roxbury Township, NJ
Birth Year: 1999
Position: Setter, Defense
Height: 5-4 (163cm)
Dominant Hand: Right
High School: Roxbury HS

Alexx Berdej was born on March 31, 1999 to Bo and Tara Berdej and currently resides in Roxbury Township, NJ. Alexx attends Roxbury HS and plans to major in English studies. In addition to fistball, she’s a standout lacrosse player, girl scout, and academic scholar. Alexx has earned awards and accolades for being the freshman Captain of her lacrosse team, receiving the Heart of the Gael
Award For freshman lacrosse, and Captain of the varsity lacrosse team, as well as academic honors for National Honor Society and National Art Honor Society. She’s an ambassador Girl Scout working towards her Gold Award. Alexx’s hobbies outside of athletics include writing, reading, painting, and ceramics in which she’s already set some personal goals for herself. – “I love to read and write. I would like to compete in a poetry slam and pursue a career in writing. My goal is to write and publish a book by age 27.”

In her leisure time Alexx likes to play around with clay, write poetry, play lacrosse and spend time with her boyfriend. She also enjoys following the Syracuse men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, hanging out with friends and family, and listening to early 2000’s hip-hop & indie rock.

Alexx volunteers her time working with Roxbury Social Services collecting and organizing backpacks and school supplies, hosting children’s Halloween parties, and assisting with organizing food drives for holiday meals. She’s also worked with the US Marines on the “Toys For Tots” program collecting toys and loading the Santa Train with the toys for several years as well as volunteered at “The Haunted Beach” run by the local Fire Department for a few seasons.

Alexx’s favorite athlete is Manny Pacquiao becaue he was born in the Philippians, was not raised in the
ideal household or neighborhood, everyone told him he was too small to be a boxer, yet he ended his career with 54
wins and 3 loses. Her nephew inspires her to be the best at everything she can be. Alexx wants to give him someone to
look up to. Her favorite quote is “Don’t plant flowers in the garden of someone who won’t water them”.

Alexx first learned of fistball when the Swim and Sport Club hosted the 2015 Pan Am games her hometown. USFA President Bob Feid and U-18 Head Coach Steven Groeber visited Roxbury High School to demo the sport.

Bayleigh Takacs, Sparta, NJ

7 Bayleigh Takacs
Jersey: # 7
Home:  Sparta, NJ
Birth Year: 2000
Position: Setter
Height: 5’7” (170cm)
Dominant Hand: Right
High School: Sparta HS

Bayleigh Takacs was born on June 5th, 2000 to Nicole and Lou Takacs and currently resides in Sparta, NJ. In addition to playing fistball, Bayleigh has been a standout Lacrosse player for Sparta HS for three years. She’s been named team captain for multiple sports as well as being an active volunteer in the community putting in 100’s of volunteer hours. Bayleigh’s involved in student government serving as a class officer while also maintaining a high GPA. She enjoys playing volleyball and lacrosse. Although Bayleigh’s only been playing fistball for a short time, she looks forward competing with and meeting players from all over the world. “I like to challenge myself with new experiences and the sport sounded interesting to me.”


Kayley Moran, Hackettstown, NJ

4 Kayley Moran
Jersey: # 4
Home:  Hackettstown, NJ
Birth Year: 2000
Position: Defense
Height: 5’10” (178cm)
Dominant Hand: Right
College: Morris Hills HS
Nickname: Kay-LiLi

Kayley Moran was born on March 26th, 2000 to Jean and Frank Moran. She’s currently a student at Morris Hills High School with plans to study Athletic Training/Rehabilitation. In addition to playing fistball, Kayley has won numerous top performance awards in Track & Field events throughout the state of New Jersey. She takes her academics serious as well; she’s an Honor Roll Student and an Excelsior Award recipient which is awarded for athletes achieving academic excellence. Kayley’s inspired by her track coach (and cancer survivor), Keith Lindsley, who pushes her to achieve her goals. In her spare time, she likes to run(and sleep), watch the New York Giants, and listen to alternative rock music. Her favorite athlete is Kerri Walsh due to her amazing skills on the volleyball court. Kayley volunteers her time helping kids make arts and crafts at her church’s youth camp.

Kayley’s grandfather saw an ad in the paper for the U-18 fistball tryouts and encouraged her to give it a shot. Kayley’s motivated to push herself by the words of legendary boxing champion Muhammad Ali – “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”

Christine Connelly, Rockaway, NJ

3 Captain Christine Connelly
Jersey: # 3
Home:  Rockaway, NJ
Birth Year: 2000
Position: Striker, Defense
Height: 5’6″ (168cm)
Dominant Hand: Right
High School: Morris Hills HS
Nickname: CC

Christine Connelly was born on May 23rd 2000, to Robyn and Doug Connelly. She currently lives in Rockaway, NJ attending High School with plans to study biology and biochemistry. In addition to fistball, CC enjoys playing softball, volleyball, and NFL Punt, Pass, & Kick competitions. Christine earned the JV Freshmen of the Year award in softball and made it onto the field at MetLife Stadium to compete in the NFL Punt, Pass, & Kick competition. She’s also familiar with discipline as she’s earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Head coach Steven Groeber named Christine the Team Captain which is a testament to her leadership on the field. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hanging out with friends, playing with her dog ‘Cooper’, watching the New York Giants and listening to pop, rap, R&B, and rock music. Her favorite athlete is Odell Beckham Jr due to the many awards he’s won in his first season playing in the NFL. Christine volunteers her time keeping the area along the local river clean as well as volunteering at the local Challenger Baseball event.

Kate Tagliareni, Hackettstown, NJ

10 Kate Tagliareni
Jersey: # 10
Home: Hackettstown, NJ
Birth Year: 1998
Position: Striker
Height: 5’7” (170cm)
Dominant Hand: Right
High School: Hackettstown High School

Kate Tagliareni was born on August 15th, 1998 to Jeannie and Tom Tagliareni and currently resides in Hackettstown, NJ. Kate grew up as the only girl with three brothers. Kate is looking forward to attending Iona College in the fall of 2016. In addition to playing fistball, Kate enjoys volleyball, swimming, lifeguarding, and being with her friends and family. Kate is a standout in volleyball at Hackettstown HS and has earned the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Scholar Athlete 2015 award, NJAC Second Team all-conference in volleyball 2014 and 2015, and Express Times Honorable Mention in volleyball 2015. She loves to watch volleyball and college basketball and listening to anything upbeat to help get her pumped up and motivated to play. Kate volunteers her time by serving on the Relay for Life committee, blood drives through school, and the Joan Knechel Memorial Walk. When asked about fistball Kate said, “I would consider it to be the most fun and exhilarating sport, that too many are unaware of. It’s a fast paced game that keeps you on your toes and comes with a lot of excitement”. Her trip to Germany will be her first time flying to Europe.

Coaching Staff:

Steven Groeber, Head Coach/Trainer

SteveGroeberHome: Cinnaminson, NJ

Steve is the Phoenix Club Fistball patriarch. He took it upon himself organize, develop, and promote the first US Women’s fistball team and now the first ever U-18 Women’s Fistball team. In addition to coaching the women’s and girl’s teams, 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. After most fistball tournaments, Steve will entertain the exhausted competitors by singing and playing accordion.

Lara Goetz, Assistant Coach/Trainer

Asst Coach Lara Goetz 2Home:  Eibach, Germany

Lara has been playing fistball for years including for the host club of TV Eibach 03 in Nuremberg, Germany, before she moved to the US last year. Since then she has been practicing and playing with the Swim and Sport Club (SSC) in Flanders, New Jersey. “I am happy that I was able to help to create a new girls under 18 national team and I am excited to go to Germany with them and welcome them in my home town for the world championship.”

Amy Miller, Assistant Coach/Trainer

Coach Amy MillerHome:  Pennsylvania

Amy Miller is an experienced fistball player at the Phoenix Sports Club volunteering her time to help prepare the U18 girls for the challenges they’ll face in Germany.

Gastão Englert, U-18 Consultant/Advisor

GastaoEnglertHome:  Porto Alegre, Brazil

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).

Bob Feid, USFA President/U-18 Delegation Leader

BobFeidDelegationLeaderHome:  Flanders, NJ

Bob Feid has only been the USFA President since January 2015 and in that short timeframe, he’s managed to organize the largest international fistball tournament in US history, assembled and led the first US Master’s team to the Master’s Championships in Chile, worked closely with U18 Head Coach Steven Groeber to build the first ever US U-18 Girl’s team, as well as providing support for the upcoming 2021 World Games in Alabama that will feature the first International Championship on US soil. Bob promotes fistball tirelessly in the schools, on vacations, and in his free time. He will lead the delegation to the U-18 championships as well. Thank you Bob for your leadership!

Team Attitude 1


Leave a Reply