Stetson University in DeLand, FL is the current home of South Jersey native Steve Ersing, a Bronze Medal winning Team US U18 Assistant Captain who has been selected to serve as an Assistant Captain on the U20 Team that will be traveling to Sheffield, UK in July to do battle on the world stage for a gold medal in ball hockey. He is currently playing for the River City Whalers in the Orlando Ball Hockey League, where in his first season he helped them to an undefeated season and league championship. Steve is an avid soccer player who has won multiple different championships at several levels. He’s studying International Finance and Business at Stetson and his dream job is a position in the English Premiere League where he can turn his passion for soccer into a successful career. Steve is like many of his South Jersey peers, and roots for the Philadelphia Flyers. He’s a big fan of the cajun cuisine, Jumbalya in particular, and loves to enjoy a good bowl while watching reruns of That 70s Show. We spoke with Steve about the upcoming championships and his expectations for the team.
Describe what it means to be chosen as an Assistant Captain?
To be named Alternate Captain of the U-20 team is a high honor. I take the position with full intentions of exceeding my expectations. I am blessed to be chosen and recognized as a leader on and off the hockey rink by a bunch of great guys. There is nothing better than representing the United States, and of course my teammates, with a letter on my chest.
What are the responsibilities of a captain?
It is my responsibility to maintain the camaraderie and unity of the team. I serve as a mentor, a leader, and a supporter. The success of the team will only be as great as the leaders on it; therefore, I will be sure to establish a winning mentality. When facing adversity, it’s my job to deescalate the situation, and ultimately work to find a solution.
What are my team’s keys to success?
Out of all the major keys to our success in Sheffield, the one I believe in most is discipline. Everyone on the rink has a job, and if each and every individual can fully direct his attention on the betterment of the team, the sky is the limit. We must stay disciplined every second of every game; playing consistent, tough, and smart hockey is the recipe for success in international play.
My style of leadership is unique where I have the ability to motivate and influence people. I like to think that my attitude and perspective on the game of hockey, along with off-the-rink leadership, makes my actions and voice resonate with people. I don’t want to waste anyone’s potential, that’s why I put so much effort into getting the most out of people.
Who do you give credit for your success on and off the rink?
Although there is no possible way to form a list of who I credit to the hockey player and individual I am today, I would have to start with my wonderful parents for coming to as many games as they could no matter what time or weather, washing my stuff, constantly supporting me. Furthermore, there are two coaches who elevated my play to new heights each and every year, in the names of Coach Mike Malloy and Coach Tom Ruiz. Lastly and most importantly, it would be impossible not to mention all the teammates I’ve played with since my very first game. Playing hockey with intelligent, hardworking hockey players not only makes my job easier, but also increases my effort to match competition.
How do you prepare for your games?
It’s important to treat every game and opponent equally. There is no team that should be given more attention than another. Of course in sports, any team can lose any day. Each and every time I go to suit up for a game, I’m focusing on getting my teammates riled up and ready to win. I prepare to put us in a situation where we can win hockey games and look good doing it.
How will your previous experience playing in the 2014 World Junior Ball Hockey Championships in Bratislava, Slovakia help you in this tournament?
I traveled to Bratislava, Slovakia to compete in the ISBHF Junior World Championship in 2014. To me, experience will play an imperative role in our success. Lastly, the experience will let me calm down and take a deep breath before each game. Also, after playing in one world championship, I understand the level of play that other countries possess. I have a better perspective on the intensity needed to start and finish each game. Lastly, the group of players who have international experience must assume responsibility and serve guidance to the new teammates.