Monday, 26. January 2015
04. 04. 14. - 15:00
By Maddy French
An LA-born professional basketball star who played for teams around Europe, including Austria's St. Pölten, has written down his experiences of life as an American expat sportsman in Europe.
Being the first sports memoir I have read, and having never even seen a live a basketball game, I wasn't sure how I would get along with Pete Strobl's 'Backspin'. Aside from a few pieces of basketball lingo that I was happy to skim over, I found the book was an easy and interesting read even for someone who don't have basketball running through their veins.
Really it is a book about an American living abroad and as the author spends time in a vast majority of Western Europe there are an array of experiences that most European expat readers will be able to relate to or at least recognise.
In the summer after he finished his degree at Niagara University in the US, where he was studying on a full athletic scholarship, Strobl was considering his options for his post-college future. And then a call from France came inviting him to come and join the Roanne team suddenly made his choices a lot simpler. He quickly accepted and with just a day to pack and say his goodbyes, Strobl was setting off across the pond to start his European adventure.
Strobl exhibits qualities that many people typically associate with American scholarship athletes - competitive, driven, focused. Early on in his book, at the start of his journey from US to European basketball, he is also sensitive of falling into the trap of an American expat stereotype many Europeans are quick to recognise and poke fun at.
A reluctance to sample foreign cuisine or learn a foreign language are some qualities that - perhaps unfairly - are commonly associated with visitors from the States and early on Strobl himself is made acutely aware of this. An embarrassing incident in a tobacconists during his first few weeks in France leaves him determined to master the French language. His early dismissal of smelly French cheese is also an incident that he looks back on with some embarrassment but by the time he comes to Austria, he admits he is slightly more open-minded and is quick to both learn the language and try local dishes.
After the stint in France, Strobl in 2001 began playing for Austria's UKJ St. Pölten basketball team, where he stayed for three seasons. Moving to Austria was in some ways more familiar for Strobl as it was the land where his father was born and he affectionately remembers his grandparents teaching him 'European ways' such as the proper way to hold a knife and fork.
The first chapter on Austria is called 'Back to my roots' and from the international demographic of his new team to his first taste of schnitzel and seeing the beauty of the old St. Pölten town, Strobl is quick to appreciate some of the best elements on offer in Austria. He stays at St. Pölten for sometime, focusing on developing his talent and learning that every time he thinks he knows the sport, there is always someone there to teach him some new tricks.
After Austria, his journey then takes him to Germany and Ireland where he gets a position as a coach and finally to Switzerland, where his European adventure sadly ends on a bad note - but you'll have to go buy the book to find out why.
For European basketball fans this memoir comes strongly recommended as Strobl offers insight into both positives elements of the game on the continent and some of the problems he encounters with management and clubs. As not a particularly passionate follower of basketball, but an expat living in Austria, I found that the book was still an enjoyable read, not least because it offered the rare chance of seeing Europe through foreign eyes very different to my own.
First Images Of Eurovision Stage
These are the first images of the design for the Eurovision Song Contest stage unveiled in the Austrian capital Vienna which is the home of last year's winner Conchita Wurst.
Russian Mafia Boss Nabbed At Vienna Railway Station
A Russian mobster wanted for a string of brutal murders was arrested in the gentile Austrian capital Vienna when commandos swooped as he went to buy a train ticket.
Teen Girls Arrested After Offering Themselves To IS Fighters
Austrian officials who recently cracked down on terrorism by arresting several people believed to be recruiting and fundraising for ISIS have revealed two more teenage girls tried to leave the country to marry terrorist fighters.
Ebola's deadly reach impacts Vienna student
Austria has yet to record its first case of Ebola, but the feared virus has already had a severe impact on the lives of Africans living in Vienna.
Grigorij Sokolov Works His Magic At Vienna Konzerthaus
Whilst the world-famous Wizard of Oz played at the Volksoper, there was another Wizard in the Konzerthaus giving his 16th performance in Vienna!
Penelope Cruz To Play The Ice Cream Killer
The memoirs of the woman dubbed the Ice Cream Killer after she shot dead two ex-lovers before hacking the bodies up with a chainsaw and telling neighbours the noise was a new ice cream machine are due to be turned into a blockbuster with Penelope Cruz playing the lead role.
Kid Left In Coma After Beaten By Teacher For Talking
This is the shocking image of a little Chinese girl before and after she was punished by her teacher - for talking in class.
Freezing Rain Causes Chaos In Central Europe
Freezing weather has arrived in Europe with a vengeance with a layer of ice blanketing parts of Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic and causing traffic chaos.
Holey Smoke As Car Disappears Down Sinkhole
Motorist Wei Hsiao found himself in a hole lot of trouble in China when a giant sinkhole opened up on the road beneath him, swallowing his entire car.
Shock Moment Police Helicopter Explodes On Street
This is the moment a police helicopter exploded into a spinning ball of flame in Chile when a fire truck clipped one of its rotors.
The most popular stories –
last 7 days
|First Images Of Eurovision Stage|
|Russian Mafia Boss Nabbed At Vienna Railway Station|
|OAP Adopts Over 30 Disabled Children|
|Butterfly Boy Whose Skin Is Falling Off|
|Children Used To Replace Fighting Dogs|
Why suffer in silence. Let off steam by letting our readers share your troubles. File your complaints about anything and everything here.
Our ombudsman David Rogers will try and help solve some of the problems from lazy civil servants through to incompetent companies – and at the very least the worst transgressors will end up in our weekly special report.