This weeks Player Spotlight is focussing on Matt Stoll, a power forward for the Grand Rapids Danger. Matt returned to the Danger this season after playing professionally overseas in Spain for nine months. While Stoll’s basketball history is worldly, he grew up just 30 minutes out of Grand Rapids, in Kent City and attended Ferris State University.
After speaking with Matt, it is clear that he’s helped create success on every team he’s been on. From College to professional, a number of accolades follow from national championship qualifier to winning records. His myriad of experiences makes him a vital component to the Danger this season as they work their way towards a championship victory. For Stoll, this is still just the beginning of a long basketball career ahead.
Q: What did you study in college?
A: I studied education at Ferris
Q: You’re currently a middle school teacher, how long have you been a teacher and do you want to stay teaching at that grade level?
A: Really, this is my first year teaching. I always thought I would teach high school but I really fell in love with the middle school.
Q: I've noticed that a few of your students love to come to support you at our home games, you seem to have your own cheering section. Do you know if any of them will try out for basketball now after watching you play?
A: Yeah, they talk to me all the time about working with them on getting their game better after school so that’s great.
Q: So, you played professionally overseas in Spain, can you tell me a little more about how that happened, were you approached?
A: After playing with danger for a year. I put a highlight tape together and put it on my youtube channel and also on every pro basketball page on youtube and someone reached out. I Played nine months and lead the team to a winning record.
Q: Can you tell me about your experiences in Spain? From playing on a team at a high level of talent to some of your favorite experiences living in another country.
A: It was tough because I don't know how to speak Spanish and the coach didn’t speak English, you learn to pick up basketball terms in Spanish pretty quick. There are also slightly different rules, they call everything a travel and they like setting screens instead of moving to get open. One of the biggest changes was waking up and all I had to do was play basketball, that’s just so much different than anything I’ve ever done. Not even three weeks in, one of my teammates got cut. They’re serious about maintaining at a high level while there.
The food was a lot different too because they don’t use a lot of seasonings or spices on things. We ate lots of seafood, being on the coast. What was great was that I could take a two-minute walk from where I lived and lay by the ocean.
Q: If you have the opportunity in the future, would you like to play overseas again?
A: Of course, it was one of the best years of my life. It made me want to see more of the world.
Q: What made you want to pursue signing with the Danger again?
A: To keep the dream alive. I feel like I can still play and it’s a great organization to be a part of to try and make things happen.
Q: Ok, a few background questions for you; first, when and why did you first start playing basketball?
A: Second grade basketball camp. I also had older cousins that played and I wanted to be like them.
Q: What is your most memorable basketball moment?
A: Winning the conference tournament my senior year at Ferris and we qualified for the national tournament. I have a lot of memorable moments, but that was one season of our team putting in work for one game that paid off.
Q: Do you have a pre-game ritual or routine?
A: Kind of. I was born on Friday the 13th so I’m pretty superstitious. Whatever I do when we win, I have to keep doing throughout the season. So, this season that’s having Diet Mountain Dew and Reeses. I’ve done that all four games so far.
Q: Who is your favorite Artist?
I don’t really have one, I’m not a big music guru. Whatever the DJ plays for warm-ups. After teaching all day I like when things are quiet.
Q: Who is your favorite athlete?
A: Blake Griffin
Q: What is your favorite sports team to follow?
A: Anything Detroit. Tigers, Lions, Red Wings, Pistons...I never root against them.
Q: Outside of basketball and work, what do you like to do? Do you have any hobbies?
A: Swimming and disc golf.
Q: What's something not a lot of people know about you?
A: I’ve never seen Star Wars.
Q: If you could have dinner with any three people, living or not, who would they be?
A: LeBron james, Adam Sandler, and Abraham Lincoln.
Q: What have you enjoyed most so far playing for the Danger?
A: Having a good set of teammates and we’re winning, so that helps.
Q: What are your goals for this season playing for the Danger? Personally and as a team?
A: Personally, just do whatever it takes to win. As a team, to win the championship.
Stay tuned to social media this weekend to see how Matt and the rest of the team do this Saturday in Columbus, Ohio against the Ohio Bootleggers! Video of the game will be available on the Grand Rapids Danger facebook page and on our website.