World Ball&Dek Hockey Federation

Drew Albright : "I love you guys"

Drew Albright : "I love you guys" | WBDHF

What changed your decision to play your last year of Junior’s?

I realized that it’s not every day that a kid gets asked to go overseas and play the game they love while representing their country. The World Junior Championships are very special to be a part of. I thought about how lucky I was to even be asked for the first time in 2014 as a 15-year-old on the U18 team and then again in 2016. I told myself this is the last chance I’ll ever get to be a part of a US Juniors team and I knew right there I wanted to head back to Slovakia. I couldn’t be thankful enough for the third and final opportunity I was given.

What would you say you learned from your prior junior experience that was helpful this time around? 

Starting out so young at the Junior level playing with kids 2-3 years older than me taught me a lot. I took my beatings, did my time on the bench, experienced how to win but also what it’s like to lose, and how to carry myself as a respectful American on and off the rink. Overall, I’ve just gotten more comfortable after each tournament and wanted to be the best role model I could be for each group I was a part of, passing down the knowledge that was given to me.

What was the toughest obstacle you had to overcome joining the team so late in the process?

I honestly have to say, besides the 8-hour drive to JFK airport in NYC, there were no obstacles for me. The people that were brought into my life throughout the trip (some I knew, a lot I didn’t) welcomed me so warmly into the group and made me feel as if I was with the team since day 1. I would also like to especially thank Coach Cooley and the board members who helped organize my trip getting me to Slovakia to play with the team.

The team is down 3-1 in the Bronze medal game versus Czech Republic with 7 minutes to play, what was going through your mind at that time? 

I was previously in this game twice before at each of the world junior championships; with one outcome being positive and one being negative. I knew what it took to battle back and win. Our team wanted to win this game more than any other and we weren’t going home without getting the job done. I saw a few opportunities that I thought I could score on and I took full advantage of them, but the two goals I put in to tie the game would be meaningless without the game winner in the shoot out by Cole LaForce and five straight unbelievable saves by Declan Moffat. I couldn’t have done any of it without the help of my teammates and coaches. We all believed in each other, fought hard until the end, and came out successful.

What did you think of the overall talent in the tournament?

The talent in the tournament was great. We were pushed to our limits every game playing against some of the top players in the world coming from both ball hockey and ice hockey backgrounds. It was fun to watch and be a part of many enjoyable battles. 

What have you learned playing with your club team the Pittsburgh Gods that helped you be prepared in Nitra? 

Being a part of the Gods since such a young age as well has prepared me tremendously. There are so many guys on our team that are some of the best players in the world and have had many years of world championship experience, guys that I have looked up to my whole life. Some of the players such as Steve and Dan Gregory, and current coach Cory Herschk have coached me since I was nine years old, and now being a part of their special legacy for the past 4 years has taught me a lot. We are as close as a hockey family gets and that’s also something not every kid gets to have by their side growing up. I thank each and every one of them for everything they have done for me and I love them to death. 


What are your pre-game rituals? Any songs in particular you like to hear?

Usually I like to be the last one out of the locker room and onto the rink each game. Music wise I kind of just let the team DJ play whatever they like that gets everyone else pumped for the game, and watch some of the cool dance moves being put on display. 


What was the funniest moment you experienced in Nitra?

There were too many funny moments to count but I think for me the funniest was when Cole LaForce said “Ahoy!” to every girl we walked by all week then would turn to us laughing and excited but didn’t continue a conversation with any of them.

What was your overall impression of the USDHF and the leadership group? Coaching staff?

I didn’t really know what to expect going in as I didn’t know much about the USDHF and how they were ran, but very quickly I realized how close knit everyone was and was happy to be a part of the organization. It was like one big family. My coaches were great, they trusted in each and every one of us to go out there and win games, and also loved to have fun. There were times where they kept us in line when tempers started to flair in tight games, but like I said we all were like one big family who always had each other’s backs. 


What is the biggest takeaway you have from your U20 experience in Nitra?

I can’t stress enough how thankful I am for each teammate, coach, parent, and friend making this trip such an enjoyable and memorable time for me. Even though my parents and younger brother couldn’t make the journey because he was getting ready to go play world championship hockey in Canada, these people made it feel like I had every one of my family members there. So many laughing and learning memories were made, and those I will never forget. They will be family to me forever. 


What are your future goals in the sport? 

I have a few goals set for myself in the sport. First, I would like to come back to Slovakia for a third time next year, this time as a member of the Men’s National team which includes guys I have grown up learning from my whole life. Second, I hope I can head over to Switzerland to play professionally with my buddy Andrew Hildreth and his Oberwil Rebel’s team. Aside from my personal playing goals, I want to grow the sport of ball hockey. It is a lot bigger than what most people think it is, and it’s time to get the recognition it deserves. I also plan to give back to my Hometown Rink Team Pittsburgh by hosting youth clinics, and coaching our next generation of players, hoping to give them everything I was and more. 

I’d like to give a special thanks to my family for making every opportunity possible for me in everything I have done in life. They have sacrificed so much time for me, and have always guided me to be a great person and role model. I can’t thank them enough. They deserve everything they have and more, and I can’t wait to repay them one day when I’m older. I love you guys.