Sports

Love of Volleyball Leads Morris County Student to World Fistball Tourney

34174d0c7e704e53531e_fd086e9ad314f1612711_ff7d02b7b29348147365_e2f37faa23d12f2d497d_IMG_1252.JPG
The first U.S. U18 girls fistball team, at practice in Roxbury, hopes to turn some heads in Nuremberg, Germany this July at the international tournament. Credits: Connor Mount
13cb5c8d19fe42223f2e_5ee6bf24ccf36fa54fed_alexx_berdej.jpg
Roxbury high schooler Alexx Berdej will represent the U.S. as part of the country's first U18 girls fistball team. Credits: Wendy Stanton
9cb6ea4cc54e404909ed_a1857bd9f5a87e1197c1_77fccf5041bf5b9eb4f3_IMG_1263.JPG
Roxbury's Alexx Berdej prepares for July's U18 girls fistball tournament at practice Sunday. Credits: Connor Mount
34174d0c7e704e53531e_fd086e9ad314f1612711_ff7d02b7b29348147365_e2f37faa23d12f2d497d_IMG_1252.JPG

ROXBURY, NJ - Roxbury High School student Alexx Berdej grew up playing volleyball, but when she was cut from the school team her sophomore year, it looked like her time competing in that sport had come to an end.

“I was always too embarrassed to go back to try out again,” Berdej said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Fistball Association President Bob Feid was at a world tournament in Argentina looking for ways to expand the little-known sport of fistball. Delegations from Germany bombarded Feid with encouragement to start a U.S. national team for girls under the age of 18.

Sign Up for E-News

He didn’t agree with the feasibility of the idea at first, but on his ride home, Feid relented. Upon his return, Feid started taking out advertisements in newspapers and spreading the word of an open call for the first U18 girls U.S. fistball team ever assembled.  

Berdej’s mother stumbled across a post on TAP into Roxbury that described how Feid was looking for seven to 10 athletic girls with skills in volleyball to join the team. She suggested Alexx look into it.

“When my mom told me there were tryouts for a sport similar to volleyball, I was more than excited to try out because it was kind of like a second shot,” Berdej said.

Fistball, like volleyball, involves hitting a ball over a net in the center of the field and allows three hits before a team must strike the ball over, preferably in the order of save, set and spike. Fistball, however, allows a bounce before each hit to make up for the vast territory players must cover, and allows a player only to make contact with individual arms or closed fists, which makes precise control challenging.

Berdej went to tryouts held at Roxbury High School in early April unsure of what she might be getting into. “The first impression was it hurts,” Berdej said. “The ball is very heavy, and it was not what I expected.”

The fistball ball is similar in size to the ball used in volleyball, but it’s much harder and less forgiving. It quickly decorates newcomers with bruises up and down their arms.

“But honestly, it’s so much fun,” Berdej said. “I love running and I love volleyball, and it’s kind of like the perfect mix of the two.”

Now Berdej - less than two years after being cut from her high school volleyball team - will be representing the U.S. as part of the U18 national fistball team competing in Nuremberg, Germany this July.

“The idea that we’re a part of the U.S. team and that we’re making history by being the first youth team going over there, it’s just so exciting, and beyond words,” Berdej said. “It’s just awesome.”

Of course, inexperience comes along with being the first U.S. squad competing. Many of the girls on the team have only been playing the sport, or have even known of its existence, for a few months. Fistball originated and is popular in Europe, and many athletes from countries like Germany and Austria were exposed to the sport at a very young age.

It's been played at the Swim and Sport Club in Roxbury since 1927 but went substantially unnoticed until last year, when the club was chosen as the site for the first Pan-American Fistball Games Tournament.

To combat the experience gap, the U.S. team has been practicing three times a week, said Feid. “Practice, practice, practice,” Feid said of the team’s preparations. “Every other day. It’s quite a lot of fistball, for us and for me.”

Feid knows the roster is far from the favorite of the tournament, but he believes the U.S. can still put up a fight. “We’re not going to beat the seasoned teams that have been playing for years, but there should be a couple of other countries that have only been around for a couple years that [we could defeat],” Feid said.

India, Kenya and Togo are also new to the U18 girls field, and should run into the U.S. at some point in the 10-team competition.

Berdej also understands the treacherous road she and her teammates have ahead, but thinks they will brave the challenges they face and impress.

“I mean, considering we’ve only been together for a couple months and we have a girl coming in from California who we’ve never really met or played with, I feel like the first few games might be a little rough, but after we get into it, I think we’ll be very good,” she said. “And I think we definitely have team chemistry, which I think is the most important. So I think we’ll be better than what people are expecting us to be.”

The sixth girls U18 fistball tournament begins July 20 and lasts through July 24.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Montville

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_e6ca8b7a8b0c857ed434_carousel_image_6dda36885bfa31f870e0_maple_sugaring_courtesy_of_morris_county_park_commission

Tue, February 20, 4:00 PM

Pyramid Mountain, Montville Township

Maple Sugaring on the Mountain

Education Food & Drink

Carousel_image_070754a6426523acdfef_muni_bldg_spring_8

Thu, February 22, 7:30 PM

Montville Township Municipal Building , Montville

Planning Board Meeting

Government

Carousel_image_58531486fec26251af37_img_0308

Fri, February 23, 1:00 PM

Montville Senior Center, Montville

Walter Choroszewski's "Presidential Scandals of ...

Arts & Entertainment

Towaco Civic Association Scholarship Applications Available

February 16, 2018

MONTVILLE, NJ – Calling all high school seniors living in Montville Township! It's time to apply for the annual Towaco Civic Association scholarship award. The winning applicant will be selected based on their community service record.

Applications are available at Montville Township High School, or email alan.guenzel@wfafinet.com for information.

The deadline to apply is March ...

Boy Scout Michael Manetta Achieves Eagle Scout Ranking

February 11, 2018

MONTVILLE, NJ – Members of Boy Scout Troop 74 gathered on Jan. 14 as Scout Michael Manetta was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout at his Court of Honor.

Officials such as members of the Montville Township Committee, the Montville Township Board of Education, former post commander Frank Warholic of VFW Post 5481, Dee Cook, who is treasurer of the Dog Park Advisory Committee and Fishawack ...

SHREK THE MUSICAL Comes to Montville Township High School

February 19, 2018

MONTVILLE, NJ- SHREK THE MUSICAL is the spring production for the Montville Township High School Drama Club. The performers will stage the Tony Award-winning musical Thursday through Sunday, March 1 through 4 at MTHS. SHREK THE MUSICAL is based on the 2001 Dreamworks movie. Tickets to this fun family production are only $15 for adults and $12 for students and senior ...

Morris County Prosecutor Appointed to New Jersey Criminal Sentencing and Disposition Commission

February 15, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ - On the morning of Sunday, Feb. 11 2018, Governor Phil Murphy held a press conference at the Messiah Baptist Church in East Orange to announce that he was going to reconvene the New Jersey Criminal Justice Sentencing and Disposition Commission. Morris County Prosecutor Fredric Knapp and MCPO Detective Patrick LaGuerre, formerly a member of the East Orange Police ...

Nutley Closes School Due to Security Threat

February 16, 2018

NUTLEY, NJ - The Nutley Police Department and the Essex County Bomb Unit have finished investigating a security concern.  As a precaution, the school was canceled on Friday after a video was posted to Instagram that suggested a possible threat to schools. Dr. Julie Glazer, Nutley Superintendent of Schools, made the decision late Thursday night to close ...

SRF Has Breedings for Sale

February 19, 2018

MILLSTONE TOWNSHIP, N.J.— The Standardbred Retirement Foundation has many breedings for sale as of Feb. 13 and anticipates others to become available throughout the season. To access the list, or to donate a breeding and receive a tax deduction for your gift, contact Tammy at 732 446-4422, or via email at SRFHorsesandKids@gmail.com.

The list of current available breedings can be ...

Columns

How to Talk with Kids About the Florida Shooting

February 15, 2018

The tragedy of the Florida school shooting is devastating, leaving 17 killed and 15 injured. Our children can easily identify with what occurred. It will be the topic of conversation today in schools everywhere. School administrators are doing all they can to provide support and guidance. The shootings affect children, teachers, and school personnel. The school shooting can have an ...

Ask the Care Advocate

Dear Heidi,

My mom lives home alone and a few days ago she fell while reaching for something

in her hallway closet. She was able to push her emergency alert button and they

called me. I live nearby so I went to check on her and she had pain in her leg and hip

area. We got her to the hospital and it turns out that she broke her hip. She had

surgery to repair it and now we are faced ...

Ask the Care Advocate Your Elder Care Questions Today

MONTVILLE, NJ - TAPinto Montville and LMR Elder Care have announced a new monthly advice column: Ask the Care Advocate.  Heidi Schnapp, Co-founder of LMR Elder Care, utilizes her knowledge and expertise in answering your questions concerning:

Helping aging parents and their ...

Another Luxury Listing in the Pond Section of Montville Presented by Century 21 The Crossing

MONTVILLE, NJ - Century 21 the Crossing and Jason Failla do it again!  Another luxury listing in the Pond section of Montville.

"This new listing has had over 13,000 views in less then a week," Century 21 The Crossing's Jason Failla said. "Anyone can list your home, it takes a comprehensive marketing strategy to sell it!"

"Luxury is in each ...

Century 21 Open Houses

MONTVILLE, NJ - Century 21 presents the following open houses:

Saturday, Jan. 27 from 1 - 4 p.m.

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using GPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)

Sunday, Jan. 28 from 1 - 4 p.m.

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using GPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)
8 Summit Drive, Bld #10, North Caldwell
12 ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast Medical Minute: Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center

On this episode of the AtlantiCast Medical Minute, we’ll take you inside the Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center, with the center’s director, Jason Lowenstein, MD.

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1M7euCp86-c

AtlantiCast Episode 011

Breaking Atlantic Health System news on this week’s AtlantiCast! Plus, find out why Morristown Medical Center is one of the best hospitals in the nation when it comes to recovering from joint surgery, see the newest center for fighting brain cancer and an Atlantic Health System red-carpet premiere!

 

The Best Way to Pay Your Child a Compliment

“Of course you’re good-looking.”  “You’re the best friend ever.”  “Who wouldn’t want you on their team?”  Is there a parent out there (including me) who hasn’t praised a child in order to make him or her feel better?  Sometimes it’s true, and sometimes we say it because we just can’t stand to see them ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...

Pet Corner