A Sportsman Among Us by Werner Fricker Jr.

I have many memories of events and experiences that happened here at the club. One of my buddies always says “… Werner, how the heck can you remember stuff like that?”  

Anyway, I always remember hearing about the immigrants that came from Europe, including my own Dad and all of my Grandparents. Most came here and to our club long before I was born. A really exciting event though for me was on a Kirchweih when I was a young boy. Right in the middle of the festivities someone got on the stage and announced that we had a new member coming. This member was John Weber’s nephew from Romania. Right then, in walked Matt Weber and his Wife, they marched them in along with the Kirchweih couples and everyone welcomed them to the USA and to our club. I always thought that was really cool. 

Matt, who owns and operates J.P. Metal Crafts, has been a member ever since and attends most of our cultural events and dances. Recently I have had the pleasure to get to know him better over interesting conversation and fun at the bar. (A very educational locale) Matt’s background is very different than the early immigrants from Banat. It is also different than those who came in the 1950’s. Matt remained in his native village of Bogarosch, in Banat. He had many interesting experiences living in Romania through the 1960’s under communist rule. His observations as a German living in that area at that time are quite fascinating. 

Matt was a very successful handball player in Romania, in the 1960’s. It was written: “Die rückhandwürfe von Matz Weber Sind gefürchtet” (The back hand throws of Matz Weber are feared) 

 His Team “Roter Stern Bogarosch” played regular matches against teams from other local villages in Banat. These villages are very familiar to many of us. His team qualified to play in the National League and in 1963 won a National Championship. The Bogarosch team was comprised of all German players. When articles appeared in the newspaper “Rumänien Heute” the names of the Bogarosch German Players were all Romanianized, for example our Matz Weber’s name appeared as “Matie Tesatorul.”     

Romania has been quite successful on the international stage in handball, winning several world titles. The nation’s success in the sport of handball can be traced to the contributions of the many Germans living in Banat. The Bogaroscher Handball Verien received the “Goldene Verdienst Nadel” of the Romanian Handball Federation. On that occasion it was said by the presenter that without the pioneering spirit and contributions of the German handball players, Romania would have never won a world championship, and the German Players of Bogarosch should be proud to have contributed to the success. 

Matt is a German Hungarian. He is one of us. He is a Sportsman among us.    

By Werner Fricker Jr.   

leave a comment