After six years away from Western Pennsylvania — and the United States as a whole — Pittsburgh basketball mogul Pete Strobl is finally back in the Steel City.
Strobl, a nine-year European Professional Basketball veteran and former Austrian National Team competitor, founded The Scoring Factory — Pittsburgh’s home for advanced basketball skill training — back in 2009. After building The Scoring Factory to city-wide prominence, in 2016, Strobl decided to head back overseas to coach in the German Bundesliga, taking his wife and four kids along for the experience. However, in May 2022, the family moved back to the South Hills and is now once again ready to flourish in the area.
“First and foremost, it’s a family decision,” Strobl told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “Our oldest son Peja is now a freshman and we’ve been thinking about this for a while. What’s best for him, what’s best for his path, what’s best for us as a family. We’ve missed a lot. We’ve been in Germany for the last six years and it’s been a wonderful experience, obviously very enriching. Opened all of their eyes to a new world, new experiences. For me, personally, having an opportunity to beat teams like Berlin, Bayern Munich, Bamberg, Hamberg — international teams — with a lower budget, was great. It forced me to be very creative strategically, tactically, and it was a wonderful experience for us, basketball wise, as a family. But, for sure, you start to miss the experiences being around friends and family. We knew it was the right time to come home. We are thrilled to be here, we are excited to be here, Pittsburgh is our home, and with as many nice neighborhoods and options in and around Pittsburgh as there are, it was a no brainer to come back to where she is from.”
Strobl’s wife, Sheryl, is a member of the Upper St. Clair Hall of Fame due to her outstanding high-school basketball career. She also earned Hall of Fame honors from Niagara University, where she competed collegiately prior to a successful professional career that saw her compete in Turkey, Great Britain, Austria, and Germany.
The couple’s oldest son, Peja, is now a freshman at Upper St. Clair, and he recently added his first Division One offer (USC Upstate) before ever stepping on a high-school court. The 6-foot-2 sharpshooter will be joining a solid Upper St. Clair team this upcoming season, and will certainly make a huge impact there over the course of his prep career.
Germany 2022 pic.twitter.com/y00l8T6uWs
— PejaStrobl (@PejaStrobl) June 5, 2022
“I’d have to admit that, for sure, basketball is a big part of our lives,” Strobl said. “My wife and I are both former professionals, it is a huge part of our existence. But it is not what defines us. For us, we want to be amazing parents. We want to provide the environment, the opportunities for our kids so they can be whoever they want to be on their journey. Upper St. Clair is the No. 1 academic school in the state and I think that speaks volumes. We wanted our kids to be in an environment where they could learn, where they could grow, where they could establish themselves. We also have a lot of family here and friends here from founding The Scoring Factory way back in 2009, so it feels really good to be back. Then you combine that with Upper St. Clair who has a man in Danny Holzer running the show, that’s an amazing human. That’s a guy that’s been there for a number of years, it is just the most positive guy that cares about kids at every level. He’s a special guy, and we wanted our kids to be in this type of environment.”
Strobl added that although his family was in the same country — Germany — for all six years while overseas, the family moved cities multiple times which was tough on the kids. Even though the family learned valuable lessons along the way, now that they have settled down in Pittsburgh, they feel much more comfortable and ready to take on each of their lives and careers on and off the basketball court.
“We want to be out there sharing knowledge, teaching, and working with the players that are hungry and have a yearning for that extra knowledge and that extra teaching,” Strobl said.
“Our goal is to get kids back in the gym, working on skills, working on the technical things that they need, including the mental details to get where they say they want to be,” Strobl said. “A lot of kids just want to play games, but if all you do is play games, then you’re losing out on the skill work which helps you perform at a higher level in those games. So we want to teach kids the skills of shooting, of footwork, all of the little details that they need to climb the ladder and perform at the next level.”
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Scoring Factory had its own academy and had hundreds of players training at multiple locations. It had an active online presence with video breakdowns of skill work. Now with over 1,200 total players trained and over $8 million in total college scholarships awarded to those players, The Scoring Factory is ready to take its training to new heights.
“Many of those kids have gone on to play D1 and even professionally, and that is something we are very proud of,” Strobl added. “But I am equally proud of all of the people that have come through our program that we teach how to be better individuals with life skills. Teaching them how to shake hands, teaching them the value of eye contact, teaching them the value of being a good teammate. Those are things that have shaped many players in our program, that, even if they aren’t future professionals, they’re future doctors, lawyers, teachers, husbands, they’re better citizens. That’s something that is very important to me, I am passionate about it, I care very deeply about it. So our goal is to get that back started. I have a lot of patience. I want to grow organically and not in a rush. I don’t want to be in a million locations at once. I don’t want to train the entire world in one hour. It’s important for me to have a proper coach-to-player ratio. We want to make sure that the players are getting the feel of private instruction even when they’re with us for group clinics. That’s important for us. If people don’t know, they’re going to find out. We have a track record of doing that. We are really excited to get back in the gym and to work with the next generation.”
Since founding The Scoring Factory, Strobl has worked with players from elementary, middle, and high schools from all over the greater Pittsburgh region. In his time teaching the city’s youth, Strobl has learned more and more about not only the quality of basketball, but also the quality of those in charge, the basketball organizers in the area.
“I think there is a lot of local talent,” he said. “There’s a lot of kids that are making their mark and getting offers and playing for really, really good teams and AAU teams. I think there is more talent because there is more awareness for basketball. I think that when that happens, some things for sure get watered down. As an outsider that feels like a Pittsburgher — I feel proud to be here, I really like the feel of the city, how nice everybody is, the famous “Pittsburgh left.” I also have to say, Pittsburgh has not had historically the best reputation for producing basketball talent, and I’m not sure why that is. I think there is a lot of talent here, and if you go way back, you talk about all of the guys that came out of the City League powerhouses, they produced their fair share of talent. But I think there are some territorial things here in Pittsburgh where perhaps certain organizers, people in Pittsburgh haven’t always had the kids best interest at heart. I think that’s changing, I think that’s changing in a good way.”
“I think there is more talent than ever before,” he continued. “And that’s the thing that is a little bit of a conundrum and is a little bit confusing, is why is there so much talent now, and why isn’t there one powerhouse AAU program? It’s sad to me that the best Pittsburgh kids feel the need to go play somewhere else. Why do they go to Ohio, why do they have to travel somewhere else to play AAU? I would love to see all groups come together to get all those kids on the same team to perform. I think that would really help Pittsburgh plant a flag and generate a lot of awareness and exposure for their peers. Pittsburgh needs to be allowed to showcase its talent.”
Recently, Strobl attended the A1 Exposure event at Moon Area high school, where he witnessed firsthand the positive side of Pittsburgh’s hoop scene. Some of the top prospects in the area, along with some of the top evaluators and coaches, gathered in Moon for a day of high-level hoops. Strobl had his eye on several players, but also took notice to some of the coaches and teachers that were in the gym with the prospects.
“You have guys like Tom Droney, Greg Cercone, all of these people in the same gym, that maybe in the past wouldn’t have been there together,” Strobl said. “Then you have the new Moon head coach Gino Palmosina involved. It’s just great to see people working together for the kids. That’s something that I believe from my heart. For me, it’s about the players, the kids. It’s about helping them on their path, on their journey, get to where they need to go. So, the landscape has changed a little bit. I would love to see everybody working together for the good of the kids, helping them get where they want to go. Being willing as a high school coach to make a call to a college coach on behalf of a player that doesn’t even play for your team. I’d love to see AAU coaches and high school teams not feel threatened when a player goes to learn or practice with another coach. The more intelligent voices heading in the right direction can help a kid get to where he wants to go.”
Aside from the state of high-school hoops in Pittsburgh, Strobl thinks the college-level programs in the area have the opportunity to make a big impact on the city’s young hoopers as well. For example, he looks back to Jamie Dixon’s Pitt teams, who Strobl remembers drawing sold-out crowds full of young, aspiring basketball players from the city.
“Those Jamie Dixon teams were the grittiest, hard-nosed, hard-hat working teams and they won,” he said. “They had success like that. It wasn’t always pretty, but they were gritty and I think that’s a very fair representation of Pittsburgh as a city, what we stand for, and the whole history of all the steel mills and the people that came here. That was gritty basketball. Pittsburgh is a city that loves its sports teams. It’s not like they kind of like them, I mean, you feel it. When the Steelers win on a Sunday, the whole city is beaming with pride and energy for the rest of the week. It’s something that is beautiful, that is prideful, that is amazing. So if Pitt can get back to that level to where they are in the NCAA tournament and winning games, I think that would have a huge impact on the city. I remember back in the day, kids were lining up with their parents to go and watch Pitt. For sure, afterwards when you see that in person, the kids go out in the driveway and they shoot around a bit longer. So I think, hopefully, Pitt will get back to where they were and beyond to help the city push us over the hump. Pittsburgh is for sure a sports city, and I really wish there was an NBA team here. Who knows, maybe I’m a dreamer, but maybe in the next 10-15 years it’ll become a reality. But I think Pitt and its program can also be a part of the equation.”
As for this year’s training, Strobl and his team at The Scoring Factory have several different membership options for their training, headlined by their family-friendly Gold Membership.
“My wife and I, we have four kids, and we recognize the challenges of logistics and costs and all those different things,” he said. “So we have something at The Scoring Factory called the Gold Membership, and that means that a player can come to any of our skill clinics, and there are 12 opportunities per month, for 99 dollars per month. We made that so that all kids in one household, somebody has one, two, three, four, five kids, all of those kids can come combined for just that one 99 dollars per month.”
Teaching is such a rewarding feeling… and when done correctly: both sides benefit! There’s nothing more beautiful than seeing the light bulb go on for a player… 💡 #ComeGetSome!
— Pete Strobl (@PeteStrobl) September 7, 2022
“It’s important that they’re getting skill work, preparing for tryouts in the upcoming season. Skill development, I honestly feel you can never get too much. You need to get repetitions, you need to be working on your form. You need to be working on reads, and understanding help-side defense and all those fine little details that separate good from great. So those are the things that we are really going to focus on. As it gets into the season, we will be doing a fair amount of clinics as well as private training in various locations.”
As Strobl now takes his coaching talents back to the Pittsburgh basketball scene, he has a message for all of those in the city who are around the game, specifically at the youth and prep levels.
“My hope is that collectively, and I am taking a big step back here to take a look at the landscape overall, I would love to see people work together, support each other, push kids to grow and learn,” he said. “I think you need to be positive with that. And you have to remember that they’re kids. It’s a path. They need to be allowed to time to go to movies and laugh and have fun, but they also need to understand that there is a cause and effect. If you shoot more, you get this. If you shoot more correctly, and you have great footwork, and you snap your wrist, and it comes out correctly, then you’re building the super important repetitions of muscle memory so you can do that in a game situation. I’d love to see people working together and just kind of push kids, give them that platform, allow them to help put Pittsburgh basketball back on the map.”
To view The Scoring Factory’s different membership plans, CLICK HERE.
For more information, visit TheScoringFactory.com.