From Germany to California

What’s your name, age, position, city where you come from?

[Franziska]: My name is Franziska and I am 29. Before we moved to California we had been living in Stuttgart, Germany.

[Florian]: My Name is Florian, I’m 32 years old and from Stuttgart, Germany. My positions are center back and line player.

Tell us a bit about your Handball background and career in Germany?

[Franziska]: I started playing handball at around 6. My mum was a passionate handball player so I grew up in the gym :-). Since 14 I had been playing for regional teams and got promoted to play with the German Youth National Team at the age of 17. That was one of the reasons I joined the women’s team of VfL Sindelfingen. After the first year in the 3rd highest league in Germany we made it in the following year to the 2nd highest league and a year later the huge step to the 1st German league. After a year there, I transferred to TV Moeglingen and played for 5 years in the 3rd German League before giving my career a break.

[Florian]: I’ve played Handball for many, many years. I started playing at the age of 12 after being tired of soccer. I joined TV Bittenfeld (today known as TVB Stuttgart) as a youth player. I’ve played there for 16 years! During my time with men’s team we made from the 4th league up to 1st Bundesliga. In 2016, I ended my professional career and went to HC Oppenweiler/Backnang to play two more years in the 3rd league.

What do you love about the sport? Any memorable moments?

[Franziska]: Being part of a team and working together to reach a common goal. You sweat, cry, laugh, party together and you are sharing all of the great moments as a team. I’ll never forget playing the first time for the German Youth National Team and singing the national anthem.

[Florian]: I love the combination of different skills. It needs a strong physis, a good tactical understanding and and lot of passion and emotion.

You moved to California. Is it the dream State?

[Franziska]: So far, I am honest, I thought the weather would be nicer. But I think this will change in the next few weeks, hopefully 😉 We really enjoy our lives here so far. Having so much time together and trying to explore as much as possible. We knew the area from our road trip on the West Coast in 2014, and now we are living here in the Silicon Valley, still feels a bit like a dream.

[Florian]: Probably yes! when we got the opportunity to move to California we actually didn’t really have to think about it for a long time. It was always our dream to live abroad and we couldn’t imagine any other better place.

You’ve chosen to play for San Francisco CalHeat. Why? How would you describe the club, its people and the atmosphere?

[Franziska]: During my studies in the US in 2011 I was playing for North Carolina Tar Heels. For me, sport is a very good opportunity to get in touch with people and it is easy to settle if you are new in the area. So when my husband moved here in the summer we found SF Calheat and thought it would be nice to play the sport that we love in the US and get to know people that feel the same. I’ve just joined the team after I relocated in January. The club is very well organized and there is a strong social cohesion. Most of the players are not originally from the US and moved here because of different reasons. So most of them know how it feels like being new to the area and they try to help you settling in.

[Florian]: I mean there is no big choice once your place of residence is fixed unless you don’t want to go to practice by plane! But honestly, I’m very happy that we found SF Calheat. It feels a little bit like family and you’re surrounded by people sharing the same passion for our sport.

The season’s first half is now behind – what is your goal for the second half? What should we expect from the upcoming US Nationals (May 24-26)?

[Franziska]: So far, I only played one tournament (California Cup). Due to my work schedule, I won’t be able to play the coming US Nationals, but I wish the team a lot of fun and success. Maybe they win a medal, that would be a huge success.

[Florian]: We played a pretty good first half of the season and had good achievements but there is still room for improvement of course. There is still about three months to US Nationals and we must continue to work hard on the details. I’m convinced that we’ll be prepared very well and whoever wants to win the tournament needs to beat us first.

How would you rate the quality of Handball in the US? How do you see it developing in the coming years?

[Franziska]: It’s really nice to see how much effort the club is doing to promote the sport in the US, especially in the Bay Area. The cooperation with schools and universities are very important so that students get exposed to team handball. But I think it really requires a lot of time to promote the sport around here, because not a lot of people know about it and you can see that as most of the women and men active players (not just at SF Calheat, but also other US teams) come from abroad. But so far, I really enjoyed playing with the team and compete at CalCup. It is a lot of fun and I think we’re doing very well so far. I think, some of the players would be able to play in the 3rd league in Germany.  

[Florian]: I think in general the level is comparable to the 4th or 5th league in Germany although there are also individual players who could certainly play at least in the third league if not better.

Last question. What’s your best advice to new and developing US players, dreaming of the 2028 Summer Olympics?

[Franziska]: I think it’s very critical for new players to watch as many professional games as possible. The sport is not popular in the US as the kids grow up with basketball, soccer and american football. But handball is a different kind of playing: more body contact than basketball, coordination, etc. The kids need to get used to the actions on the field and need to understand every rule.

[Florian]: Immerse yourself with Handball wherever and whenever possible. Go to as many practices, watch games live or on TV. It’s always good to watch the professional players, look at their movements, team play and try to replicate them.

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