This year, in Belfast Ireland, the team – named United - and head coach and Maspeth native Jerry Matacatta look to secure another top spot.
United and another team comprised of FDNY members will represent the United States at the games.
The event takes place from August 1-10, and brings several thousand first responders from all over the world competing in 64 sports.
“We’re going and all of the guys are excited,” said Matacatta, who explained that despite political unrest in the region, it’s important for the games to go on. “We’re going to hope that sports can heal the process there.”
He has seen volleyball have that effect on the court with his own players.
“There is so much brotherhood and camaraderie among them on the volleyball court, which is why they are successful in what they do,” he said.
But the team’s success begins with practice. Matacatta praised Maspeth High School for letting United use the school’s gym as a practice facility.
Also, a physical therapist from Premier Care in Maspeth donates his time and helps the players with injuries.
Officer George Matthews was coached by Matacatta when he attended Queensborough Community College, and when he created United he called on his old coach to guide the team.
The year the team won the bronze medal, the games were in New York so most of the team members were showing up to compete after working long shifts.
“I think we could have done better,” said Matthews, who believes his team will be more focused in Ireland without the pressures of work.