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Merry Christmas from the USFA - A Year in Review and a Look Ahead

From Dallas, Texas, to Jona, Switzerland, the 2023 fistball calendar was a busy year for

our USA fistball family, with the highlight being the 2023 IFA World Championships in

Mannheim, Germany. Even outside of the World Championships, this year was filled

with fistball action played by those of all ages on the local fields of Swim and Sport

Club, Phoenix, and Jackson, Wisconsin.

The fistball season started early this year in January as men’s national team hopefuls

gathered in Dallas, Texas – hometown of US Head Coach Rodrigo Salas – for the first

of four tryouts for coveted spots on the World Championship team. Tryouts continued

throughout the winter months into spring as the roster was whittled down to 12 athletes

by the final tryout camp in April, held in Jackson, Wisconsin, home of the Wisconsin

Fistball Club. During the team trials, the athletes battled difficult field and weather

conditions and were put through challenging training, and by the end of the camp, US

Coaches Rodrigo Salas and Denis Nicoladeli had their squad:

Team USA – 2023 IFA World Championships

1. Eric Kindler – Wisconsin Fistball Association

2. Mat Henrichs – Wisconsin Fistball Association

3. Jack Stern – Milwaukee Fistball Club

4. Todd Strassberger – Swim and Sport Club

5. Daniel Simon-Slowinski – Swim and Sport Club

6. Aaron Weninger – Wisconsin Fistball Association

7. Cory Dahn – Swim and Sport Club

8. Kris Graham – Denver FC

9. Pat White – Wisconsin Fistball Association

10. Mat Ogin – Swim and Sport Club

As the team prepared to head to Mannheim, the first tournament of the year was held at

the Swim and Sport Club in Flanders, NJ. Phoenix Sport Club took home the

tournament with The Spice Boys finishing in second. However, the highlight of the

tournament was a youth introduction session put on by US women’s team member

Amber Rauh-Barany in which many senior players introduced and instructed the game

to the next generation.

In July, after a quick team training session at the Swim and Sport Club, the men’s

national team was off to Mannheim for the 2023 IFA World Championships. The team

arrived in Vormwald, Germany, on July 19th and the next day participated in two training

sessions with continental rival Argentina and eventual World Champions Germany.

These two scrimmages helped the United States prepare for their Group D opener on

July 22nd against Belgium. The United States took advantage of the hastily assembled

Belgium team and soundly defeated them 3:0 (11:3, 11:4, 11:3). The Americans

continued their dominance, handing Serbia a 3:0 (11:7, 12:10, 11:6) defeat, which set up

an ever-important Group D title match against Denmark. The Group D finale lived up to

its billing as the match went five sets, with the Danes ultimately outlasting the

Americans 3:2 (9:11, 10:12, 11:9, 12:10, 11:3). Despite the tough loss and bitter

disappointment, the Americans had yet to play their best fistball of the tournament.

Seeded into the IFA’s President’s Cup (knock-out round matches for teams not in the

final 8), the Americans breezed through quarterfinals (3:1 over Czechia) and semi-finals

(3:1 over New Zealand). The stage for the President’s Cup Final was set against the

African nation of Namibia. The final was played at the sold-out 12,000-seat SAP Arena

– the largest crowd ever to watch a United States Fistball match. The atmosphere for

the President’s Cup final was electric, as was the play on the field. A back-and-forth

match that went to a fourth set where the Americans were finally able to take control

and win the match 3:1 (11:7, 11:9, 12:10, 11:8). Celebrations ensued as team captain

Mat Ogin lifted the President’s Cup Trophy, marking one of the biggest

accomplishments in United States Fistball history.

The Men’s National Team wasn’t the only US fistballers making noise in Europe this

summer. The Swim and Sport Club sent one men’s team and one women’s team to

compete in Jona, Switzerland, in what is known as the biggest club fistball competition

in the world. Both teams played hard and learned a lot from their European tournament,

on and off the field! Upon returning home from Europe, tournament play continued. In

August, the Phoenix Sport Club hosted their annual summer tournament. Teams from

the Swim and Sport Club, South Jersey Fistball, and Phoenix Sport Club came together

for a day of fistball and fun.

In September, Wisconsin Fistball Association hosted the US National Championships,

which had been pushed back due to many players participating in the IFA World

Championships. Teams from Swim and Sport Club, South Jersey Fistball, Phoenix

Sport Club, and Wisconsin Fistball Association converged on the fields of Jackson,

Wisconsin, for a championship event that was full of spirited play, hard-fought rallies,

and mutual respect among competitors. In the end, it was South Jersey who took home

the gold in both the men and women’s divisions with hard-fought victories over teams

from Wisconsin Fistball Association.

As we say goodbye to 2023, we look forward to more exciting fistball fun in 2024. 2024

will be another big year for international fistball with our national teams taking part in

three major tournaments. From October 31 – November 3rd, the best youth fistball

teams in the world will converge on Llanquihue, Chile, for the Men’s and Women’s U18

IFA World Championships. One week later, Montecarlo, Argentina, will host the tenth

edition of the IFA Women’s World Championships. The 2024 Pan American Games are

also planned to take place in Llanquihue, Chile; details are still being worked out

between the nations planning to compete. We are actively recruiting athletes and coaches for all our national teams (Men’s, Women’s, and U18 boys and girls). Interested persons should fill out the “Contact Us” form at the bottom of the home page or send an email to

Finally, we would like to thank all of our sponsors for their time, energy, and efforts in

making sure that our athletes were taken care of as they traveled around the country

and to Europe in 2023. USA Fistball would specifically like to thank River Services, LLC,

Premier Flooring, Inc., Leo Ticheli Productions, and Stag Barbership – Milwaukee.

We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season and look forward to seeing you

near a fistball in 2024!



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