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Shaler students to play in World ball hockey championships

June 15, 2018 GMT

Tyler Paszkowski constantly adjusts to different teammates and personalities. Communicating with his fellow teammates forces the Shaler eighth-grader to utilize social media.

His teammates for the Team USA 16U ball hockey team are located all over.

Paszkowski will need to jell quickly with his teammates when they travel to Nitra, Slovakia to play with the national team at the 2018 World Junior Boys and Girls Championships, which stretch from June 25 to July 1.

The tournament, sponsored by the World Ball Hockey Federation, consists of four guaranteed preliminary-round games before an elimination round.

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Paszkowski is one of two Shaler students, along with recent graduate Christian Magliocco, who plays for the U20 team, who will be making the trip.

“Seeing my uncle make the Team USA made me want to try it,” Magliocco said. “Being able to represent my country is cool.”

Players from the teams hail from Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

All the members of the roster had to go through several rounds of tryouts, held in New Jersey and Massachusetts, before being selected.

Each team has two goaltenders and 20 runners.

“Seeing all the competition was cool,” Paszkowski said. “When I was in New Jersey, I didn’t know many people. I couldn’t sit there and talk to people like we were friends. You had to meet new kids.”

Both Magliocco and Paszkowski started their ball hockey careers in the Etna Dekhockey League before moving to Team Pittsburgh Dekhockey. Paszkowski plays goaltender, and Magliocco is a forward.

Going to the tryout was nerve-racking for Magliocco. While there, he played his game, trying to show his willingness to do whatever was asked.

Then came the wait for an email.

“I didn’t hear back for a bit,” Magliocco said. “It was a week or two.”

Each player has traveled the circuit extensively. They’ve played in tournaments in Boston, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Niagara Falls, Canada.

What Magliocco is looking forward to about the world championships is a step up in competition.

“I expect good things,” Magliocco said. “It’s going to skyrocket from the teams we’ve played in the United States and Canada. We usually play a team from one city, while these teams will be made up of kids from all over the countries.”

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Getting involved in the game was easy for Paszkowski.

His dad played and got Tyler started in the sport when he was about 4. Keeping up with the pace of the game was a strong selling point.

“In ball hockey, you don’t skate, so you have to glide,” Paszkowski said. “It’s constant movement, and you can’t take a break. You have to hustle every second.”

Though practicing is impossible, Paszkowski is still working on building relationships.

Once Paszkowski makes the 4,529-mile trip from Pittsburgh to Nitra, he knows everyone will need to be able to work together.

“Communicating through social media and becoming friends even when you aren’t seeing each other every day,” Paszkowski said. “You have to know each other.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.

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