USA International Profile: Kyle Strenski

With a history in the game that goes back to the USAFL's early days, Kyle Strenski was a natural fit to be the next coach of the USA Revolution men's National team.  Kyle will lead the Revos into battle against the best of the Americas and Europe at the AFL Transatlantic Cup in Toronto from August 2-11.  In this installment of our International Profile Series, USAFL International Profile manager Paul O'Keeffe chats with Kyle on his experiences playing footy and his plans for the national program in the years ahead:

Kyle, what USAFL Club do you belong to?

The Cincinnati Dockers.  I was a player and coach for 20 seasons with the Dockers before moving to Greenville SC in 2020.  No local club….yet.   

What is our background in Australian Football and Sports in general? 

Growing up I played all the usual sports basketball, football, baseball, tennis, etc. In High School my focus was cross-country and baseball, while keeping involved in many other sports just for fun. When I got to Penn State, I took up racquetball, soccer, and fencing.  After graduating I continued to fence in the Northeast and qualified for US National Tournament in foil with less than 2 years of experience.   

In 1998 I had a career change that took me to Cincinnati and a random chat at a pub with a couple of the current Cincinnati Docker players. They asked if I wanted to give it a try, thinking back to some random clips on ESPN, I said, “Yes!”. You have to remember this was before YouTube or anything else was available at the tip of your fingers to find videos to help study the sport and skills involved. My memory from the practice in late Fall 1998 was that taking a mark and giving a decent handball (making contact) was a lot easier to pick up compared to kicking with any control. That remained a mystery for a while.   

My first season was 1999 and it was so much fun and chaos. In 2000 I was named to the Revolution and we traveled to Toronto for my first international experience. Continued with the Revolution going to Australia for the International Cup in 2002 and 2005. Over 300 games and many years we are at this moment.   

What a great story. It is amazing you have been around for so long. What keeps bringing back to every year? 

Love of the game and helping those with passion for the sport to be their best.  Footy has been a huge part of my life for a long time and there is always something to learn or improve.   

So, what excites you most about your new role? 

To drive the USA Men’s International Team to achieve their highest potential.   

What is your vision for the role? 

To provide the players who commit to the International Program my dedication to communication, transparency, and accountability. This is an opportunity for a new beginning. I believe we need to improve our Footy minds and skill. To do this we need as much teaching and supporting the players in their development as possible.   

In 20+ years you must have some great footy moments. What is your greatest moment, to date? 

There have been so many. I might have to think about this for a while. Wish I could name the top ten and even that would be difficult, but I will rattle off a few. I have been very fortunate to win several National Championships with the Dockers, each one being unique. Great memories playing for the Revos, including a brief appearance in 2018 during the Ireland trip. Being named to the USAFL’s first All-American Team of the Decade. Coaching the Reserves vs Canada in 2023. However, getting the call that I have been selected to be the Head Coach of the Revolution is the top.    

It was well deserved given your tenacity with being involved in the Revolution as a player and coach for so many years. What is your funniest moment in footy?  

I would say some off-the-field moments during the 2002 IC. Walking through a park in Melbourne I encountered this fury little animal. There seemed to be many in the park. Overall, pretty friendly and would come very close. Didn’t know what it was but saw them again the next night walking through the park and this time I had some pieces of bread from dinner to share with these friendly critters. Basically, they would eat out of your hand. Finally, I described these to one of the coaches, not giving all the details of feeding them, and their reaction told it all, “Stay away from them, they’re opossums and might attack you”. If I got attacked and couldn’t play that would have been a less funny story.  

At least it was not a drop bear; they can be ferocious. What should people know about you outside of footy? 

I would say these days, you probably will find me doing something with my dog. Could be going for a hike in the mountains, hitting the beach, on the lake, or just stopping in one of the dog friendly breweries or cafes around Greenville. We even completed our third UltiMutt race, which is a 5k obstacle course you run with your pup, this year.     

Finally, what do you do for a real job? 

This might be the hardest question to answer. I’m a business director covering North and South America for UPM Raflatac, a global leader in sustainable labeling solutions. If you are scratching your head, think about all those craft beer cans, water bottles, cleaning supply, etc.. at your house.  Many of them have a label.  In addition, I’m on a couple national committees for plastic recycling.  All of that is just part of my day job.  

Mate, thanks for your time today and congrats on the new role. 

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