Of of the top remaining uncommitted 2011 defensemen in the country is Verona's own Joey Fiala. It's been well know around recruiting circles that the Badgers have been following Fiala's progress, even before he started high school.
The 6'2 defender left Verona high school mid-last season to accept an invitation to play with the USA National Team Development Program. He went back to Ann Arbor again for his senior season.
I was able to speak with Fiala Wednesday afternoon about life with Team USA, and how the recruiting process is going for the young defenseman.
Chuck Schwartz: You’re back for another season with the NTDP after joining Team USA mid-season last winter. What are some of the main things you’re looking to improve upon in your second season in Ann Arbor?
Joey Fiala: This year I am looking to play with more confidence and to be more physical. I am looking to improve my gap when going against the college teams witch is difficult with their speed.
Chuck Schwartz: You got an opportunity to play against Denver at Magness and against Colorado College at the World Arena over the weekend. What was it like playing in your first games against a D1 college hockey teams?
Joey Fiala: Playing my first college games was sweet. It was weird at first battling against guys you watched playing the badgers last year, but I got used to it right away. They have a lot of skill and are fast, but to be honest our team kept up and did great. We were down 2-1 to Denver in the 3rd, and then penalties killed us and we lost 8-1. I got kicked out of the game for a scrum. CC has a huge rink, it is really wide. When they would dump it into the zone, most of the time it popped right back out. They were good, but Denver was definitely better. We were down 3-1 in the 3rd and lost focus and took penalties just like in the Denver game and suffered another big loss. The student sections are great and can get in your head, but they did not compare to the fans at the Kohl Center. I am excited to play all our college games, especially North Dakota.
Chuck Schwartz: There’s obviously a lot of college interest out there for you right now. Can you give us a list that you may have it narrowed down to at this point?
Joey Fiala: I have had interest from more than 17 schools, but I am pretty sure I have narrowed it down to Western Michigan, Ohio State, and Miami of Ohio. Wisconsin was in my top 5, but I talked to coach Eaves and found they have a lot of defense coming in and I found it wouldn't be the right fit for me, especially with coach Oz leaving. I have been in the locker room and around campus a lot over the years and was recruited before Freshman year, so it was hard at first to understand I was not going to play in my home town.
Chuck Schwartz: While being recruited, coaches will tell you anything to come to their school. When you’re weighing your options on these schools, what factors are you considering?
Joey Fiala: When deciding on a school you have to go where you are really wanted. Getting a few phone calls doesn't always mean that. You also have to take what they say and take what applies to you and understand that sometimes they will say things that sound good, but shouldn't be a huge factor in the decision. An example that everyone has heard is Miami of Ohio has the best girl to guy ratio. I am considering opportunity of playing time, # of defense committed for next year and who is already on the team, defense coach, strength and conditioning coach, and if the school has my major.
Chuck Schwartz: Do you have an idea of when you may be making your decision?
Joey Fiala: There is a good chance I will be making my decision by next week Tuesday. Western Michigan has put a deadline out and I am currently deciding where I should go. The decision is a lot harder than I thought it would be.
I want to thank Joey for taking time out of his busy schedule to chat with us this afternoon about his recruiting process. If sounds as if he's picking schools for the right reasons, and that's always refreshing to hear. Thanks again Joey.
Additionally, another player that Wisconsin had been tracking is off the board as well. Appleton native Cliff Watson has committed to Mark Osiecki and Ohio State.
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