Our next Team USA Q&A is with long-time team member, Steve Serio. Steve played in the Beijing and London Paralympics, competed at the University of Illinois, and now lives and plays professionally in Germany. Read about Steve’s amazing experiences abroad below:
Name: Steve Serio
Hometown: Westbury, NY
Current Country of Residence and amount of time you’ve been there:
I live in Giessen, Germany and this is my third year playing here.
Current team (other than USA):RSV Lahn Dill
How and why did you decide to move overseas to play?
SS: After college, I got the opportunity to live abroad and play for a professional club in Germany. Playing over here doesn’t only allow you to meet new people and have new experiences, it offers the opportunity to train year round and play against some of the best players in the world every week.
What has been the biggest adjustment you have had to make living in a foreign country?
SS: The biggest obstacle for me has been the language. So many people in Europe, especially this younger generation, speak English. While it makes for an easy transition, it’s not always easy to force yourself to keep learning and challenging yourself with a foreign language.
Is the strategy/game overseas different? What has that learning curve on the court been like?
SS: I would say that the gameplay overseas is a little more individual than in the states. Coming from an amazing college program at the University of Illinois allowed me to actually become somewhat of a teacher to some of the players overseas. For right now, trying to help younger players who don’t have to opportunity to play in a college program is my way of giving back to the sport that has giving so much.
Favorite “traditional” food in your current country?
SS: My favorite German meal is schnitzel. It’s basically just a veal cutlet with some potatoes and onions. And of course, German beer is absolutely delicious.
Favorite word in the language spoken in your country:
SS: My favorite phrase is “So Geil” which means “really awesome.”
What was your first experience with wheelchair basketball? How and why did you start playing?
SS: When I was younger I tried to play on every sports team I could. I basically used sports just as a way to be with my friends. However, when we all reached high school, the competition just became too hard for me to participate. I needed to find an outlet athletically and that’s when I found a local wheelchair basketball team on Long Island. From the moment I saw the game I knew that was what I wanted to do. I would have never dreamed it would take me to the place I am today.
Will you be spending the upcoming holidays abroad?
SS: No. There is one rule in my house and it’s no matter where I travel to around the world I have to be at my parent’s house for Christmas dinner. No questions asked. I come from a very close Italian family and it’s hard to be away from them for so long at a time. My favorite part of the holidays is going home every Christmas and spending time with the people I love.
From Team USA member Kaitlyn Verfeurth: “What makes you a champion?”
SS: For me personally, it’s not only hard work year round, but it’s setting my goals high. Reaching for the stars is how I get the most out of myself.
Pose a question for the next Team USA member:
SS: What advice can you give the younger generation to help them be successful both on and off the court?