Saturday, May 10, 2014

Former Niagara Player Strobl's Book A Good Read

The book "Backspin," written by former Niagara basketball player Pete Strobl, is nearly as hard to locate as details about Strobl's own playing career.

But that doesn't mean either the 6-foot-8 player's career or his literary contribution isn't worth the search.

Strobl was a three-year reserve for the Purple Eagles in the late 1990's and, then, played nine professional seasons in a variety of overseas locales.

Strobl might not have been a star at Niagara, playing within the MAAC, but he embodies the goals of the league and its membership.

The MAAC is a league that still emphasizes the "student" portion of the student-athlete equation, and Strobl earned two degrees, including a masters degree in business, from Niagara.

There must have been some concentration on writing along the way, as well, as Strobl's first-person account of his love affair with basketball and his recollections of his days discovering a love for the sport through his playing days is well-done and enjoyable reading.

He was a roommate of former Niagara star Alvin Young, played for Purple Eagles' coaches Jack Armstrong and Joe Mihalich and played against some stiff competition within the MAAC.

All of that is well recounted and stirs the memories of anyone who followed the conference back then.

But, Strobl's descriptions of post-college life as a virtual professional basketball vagabond is what sets his book apart.

Strobl details the trials and tribulations of playing in foreign countries, of having to learn new languages and adjusting to new cultures, new teammates, different playing styles.

He makes it clear that playing professionally overseas isn't just about basketball. It's about an entire lifestyle adjustment.

It's one more than a few players from the MAAC attempt after their college days end, and not all of them do so successfully, usually for reasons beyond the court.

Strobl's book should be required reading for athletes at any level who desire to continue a playing career as a professional in a foreign country.

His book is available for Kindle and in a paperback version that can be ordered via Amazon.

These days Strobl is giving back as a Pittsburgh-area based instructor who not only helps develop on-the-court skills to younger players but lifestyle skills, as well.

In 2009 he founded "The Scoring Factory," a training facilities where young players with a strong work ethic learn to achieve their goals in a blue-collar atmosphere. He also offers private instruction and training.

Additionally, Strobl is the head basketball instructor for the Pittsburgh Athletic Association.

Writes Strobl, for his Scoring Factory website ( "A long time ago, back when I was just another kid trying to touch a ten foot rim for the first time, someone told me that the key to happiness was to find a way to do something you really love. I mist have bought that story hook, line and sinker because I can't imagine anything better than seeing players improve their game, expand their educational opportunities and grow as responsible young adults."

It's  mission Strobl appears to be striving for in his career as an instructor.

And, one for which his book indicates he is well-prepared for.

Strobl's own playing career in which he had to make considerable athletic and lifestyle changes to succeed is the perfect how-to primer for any young basketball player.

And, it's all there, to be read about in enjoyable fashion, in his well-done book "Backspin."

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