Thursday, 20 March 2014
THE JOURNEYMAN-An Interview With 'Backspin' Author Pete Strobl
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
France, Austria, Germany, Iceland, Switzerland and Ireland. These aren't the destinations of your average basketball journeyman. Portland, Dallas, Atlanta, Minnesota, Memphis and Philadelphia are. Then again Pete Strobl isn't your average Basketball journeyman. After quite the college career at Niagara University that grabbed Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees as well as points and rebounds, the kid from Los Angeles took a crash course in a real educational experience of life and hoops. One year shy of a decade gave Strobl a lifetime of experience playing and living all across Europe for many different towns and teams. From the culture shock of Paris to the coaching gig in Ireland, Coach Strobl has grown in more ways than one, more than most seasoned veterans of the NBA would even dream of. Sound impressive? Well this isn't even the half of it as Pete is now settled in Pittsburgh with his young family and is now coaching youngsters who hope to follow in his sneaker steps. He's created an academy of talent in 'The Scoring Factory'. A clinics dream of breaking down language barriers and learning the true skills behind the game that Europe offers, Pete Strobl is the perfect life coach as well as Basketball one.
Want more? You got it, if this guy wasn't hardworking enough he's already penned his first book titled 'Backspin'. From it's text-book, academic look and feel to it's life and sport skill advice this is the perfect manual for anyone who wants to achieve their dreams, hoops related or not. It also doubles up as the perfect travel guide for people looking to truly explore the world. From increasing your vertical leap by dunking out of a swimming pool, to the reverse engineering of mastering foreign languages in all sorts of helpful ways you won't be lost in translation with this text-book perfect guide. More than your average NBA autobiography, or should we say 'biography', this is something else altogether. To reveal more of what you should read all about would be to spoil the nature and nurture of this funny and heartfelt cultural and sporting food for thought. If you love the purity of the game and the good things in life then this is poetry. Above all though spinning back and recognising the past that birthes the future of the present, 'Backspin' is Strobl's story and a brilliant life one at that. It's only just beginning too. So without further ado, who else to tell us about the new book of Basketball than the man himself? Let's go one-on-one...
Hey Coach! Thank you for your time! How's it going? Safe to say its been a pretty eventful year, let alone past decade?
It's absolutely been an eventful year, but I love it! I've found over the years that I'm the type of guy that thoroughly enjoys and thrives on being busy and engaged. I have a habit of finding ways to continually either be a part of, or create something that I'm passionate about and dive in head first!
Congratulations on 'Backspin'! Truly a great read for Basketball and travel fanatics alike. How has the reception for this book been and what inspired you to write it and put this life diary out there?
I appreciate that very much. The reception for Backspin has been phenomenal thus far and I'm honestly humbled. I had no idea that it would touch a chord with so many people, at least not this soon after it's release. It was initially written to better help some of the younger players I train get a better sense of the necessary determination required to achieve your goals. It's simple to merely state your goals, quite different to follow through and persevere through adversity. I wanted to inspire young and motivated athletes that needed some guidance and direction, but through the writing process I also recognized an opportunity to shed light on what it's actually like for a division 1 and European professional basketball player behind the scenes.
Starting from the beginning, before embarking on your biggest adventure how did it feel leaving home in Los Angeles for Niagara University? What did you learn about growing up as a person and a player on and off the court?
Leaving "home" is always an experience mixed with a bunch of different emotions. For me personally, it was both exhilarating and terrifying. I was excited to confront the great unknown and knew there would be hurdles to overcome. I knew that it was a necessary step for me individually to allow myself to grow as a person. I also knew that the challenges that awaited me against that caliber of competition would have a "make or break" effect on my potential ability to play beyond college. It was one of the many moments that I think we all come across in our lives that challenge you in ways you couldn't expect.
Having quite the face to face with Hubie Brown and holding court with Calvin Murphy's son how did being in the company of NBA legend show you that your basketball legacy had so much more to come?
At the time, I didn't even think in those terms. I was just happy to have an opportunity to work hard and do what I loved. Having had ample time to reflect, and viewing those situations through the eyes of an adult, "fortunate" doesn't even come close to describing how lucky I was to share a court with those guys. To this day, I'm an avid fan of the concept that we somehow become better by surrounding ourselves with better people. I personally love to be around positive and passionate people, and find it to be contagious and stimulating. There's no way to accurately measure how valuable those experiences were to me as a person, and as a player.
Family focused first and foremost how did it feel to pride your hard working parents with being the first member of your family to achieve a college degree and what advice would you give young student athletes who may be struggling with their studies?
It was an amazing feeling, and worth every single second of the many sacrifices made along the way to make it happen! All student athletes struggle with their studies at some point in time. I think there's a misconception sometimes that athletes don't care about their grades, when the reality couldn't be further from the truth. Once you take out the so-called "one and done" players from the equation, you'll find that the vast majority of student-athletes struggle most with finding enough time to be successful at both. People that haven't played college sports at a high level have no idea how demanding it can be, and the challenges associated and steming from effective time-management. I think mandatory study hall is a great step in the right direction and that those in need should ask for help when necessary, because at the end of the day colleges want their players to succeed...because they need them to be eligible!
Basketball has always been a growing game especially around the world. What specific parts of the European game helped improve yours as you took it back to the States?
Basketball is the most beautiful game on earth and I enjoyed seeing firsthand how quickly it's growing. The Dream Team deserves a lot of credit for spurring some of that growth and growing new markets and pockets of enthusiasm. Seeds are still being planted as we speak and I'm really curious to see how it evolves over the next decade with talks of possible NBA expansion into Europe. Due to the fact that soccer still dominates, it was inevitable that certain characteristics would carry over into the style with which many Europeans play. I personally learned a great deal from watching and observing their collective footwork, passing and teamwork. I tried to immerse myself in their culture both on and off the court, so found myself mimicking certain movements in an attempt to add more diversity to my own game.
'Backspin's' theme comes with some memories in italics throughout the chapters of your life. How important is it for us to acknowledge our past to prepare ourselves for the future?
The famous saying by George Santayana rings true to this day: "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it". Acknowledging our past is vital for us to better understand and navigate our future. This applies to world events, daily interactions, relationships and of course basketball. Those of us willing to take a long look in the mirror to examine and accept our mistakes, have the potential to experience greater triumphs by learning through the process. Trial and error is an immensely powerful learning tool, as long as you don't try the same wrong thing over and over. One has to be willing to experiment, and remember what didn't work along the path.
Now settled in Pittsburgh what can you tell us about this city in regards to hoops and sports?
Pittsburgh is a phenomenal city! The sheer beauty of the landscape and topography is worth a trip alone, but the people and style of life here make it such a special place. It has a different feel here than any other city I've ever experienced and is in the midst of a revival and the stars are all alligning at the right time. Let's just say it isn't anything like what I thought it was going to be based on what I learned in the history books growing up in Los Angeles! The city has a rabid sports fan base and people get crazy to support their teams, it's energizing and a joy to be a part of.
What can you tell our readers about 'The Scoring Factory'?
The Scoring Factory is a basketball training academy that provides an opportunity for dedicated athletes to learn the necessary skills to reach their potential. We've had some enormous success stories through the years and that has obviously helped to fuel our growth. I'm extremely passionate about what we do and the work that our team of coaches has done to help countless players take huge strides toward reaching their dreams. We train pros all the way down to youth and there's a special culture and understanding of the value of smart work that has begun to consume the environment. Nothing makes me more proud than to share my knowledge with driven athletes as they continue to climb the ladder.
Pete we thank you so much for your time and consideration. We appreciate it and wish you all the best. 'Backspin' is a great coaching manual and life story for people growing up from the court to the real world. What's next for you and is there anything you'd like to share with your readers in closing?
I'm honestly enjoying the ride and touched that Backspin has been embraced by such a wide audience. I'm overjoyed to know that it's already helping players along their own journeys while simultaneously shedding light for those curious about the ride. There are a lot of things that are on my own personal horizon, and I'm excited to see where this is all headed. I'm involved in several exciting projects all geared toward promoting knoweldge, growth and development. Its extremely important to me to help others and share the knowledge that I've been fortunate enough to accumulate.....while continually learning and striving to be the best husband, father, teacher, coach, mentor and now author that I can possibly be!
France, Austria, Germany, Iceland, Switzerland and Ireland. These aren't the destinations of your average basketball journeyman. Then again Pete Strobl isn't your average basketball journeyman. More than just a great basketball coach too, Strobl takes you through the X's and O's of a whole other continent with a brilliant life story of a Basketball player on the longest road and greatest journey that will hold court in any arena. More than a game, this shows you just how far Basketball can take you.