California Handball Players Only

The Youth Team Handball High School League and Youth California Cup organized by San Francisco CalHeat THC are the high school competitions in the SF Bay Area.

Handball is starting to be recognized by a few notable universities, such as University of Virginia, UNC, UCLA, UC Berkeley, United States Naval Academy, United States Military Academy, United States Air Force Academy, Texas A&M University, Temple University and others. Those schools and academies along with other amateur teams participate in the Club National Championships and Collegiate National Championships, one for men and the other for women. There are also several club level leagues in various sections of the country, like the Midwest Team Handball League, Northeast Team Handball League, and the Great Lakes Team Handball Association.In 1978, the National Teamball League was formed with six clubs: the Detroit Hawks, Chicago Chiefs, Boston Comets, New York Stags, Philadelphia Warriors and Pittsburgh Points. The NTL (described as an “Americanized” version of team handball, with faster play and higher scores) was bankrolled by Aben Johnson, Jr., owner of WXON-TV in Detroit, and WXON aired the league’s first game, a 48-26 victory by Detroit over Chicago. The match, played in front of about 800 people at Macomb County Community College in Warren, Michigan, was taped in early December and aired on WXON on Friday, December 8, 1978, and again the next day. John Jakobs was the founder of the first handball section (First German Sport Club of Brooklyn) in the USA. On 26 May 1926 he made a call in the New Yorker Herold to promote handball. In 2020, former USA Team Handball CEO Barry Siff stated that plans were in development to create an American professional team handball league. The new, unnamed league’s launch is scheduled for 2023, with 10 teams initially worth three to five million dollars apiece. There are also plans to cooperate with NBA or NHL owners in one-tenant arena situations, and perhaps create multisports clubs like FC Barcelona or Paris Saint-Germain. After the World War II handball had no national body until 1959 as the United States Team Handball Federation was founded. In the same year the United States Handball Federation League was found. The Elizabeth S.C. won at least all season until 1967. In 1962 nine teams from New York and New Jersey played in that league as a winter conditioner for soccer. In 1963 already 20 teams with 200 players played handball. The Youth Team Handball Middle School League and Youth California Cup organized by San Francisco CalHeat THC are the only competitions accommodating middle school in the USA.Because handball was part of the 1936 Summer Olympics the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) started to sponsor field handball in 1934. Many of the handball leaders of the DAAV were chosen to lead the handball committee of the AAU.

On 28 October 1926 the first field handball game was played between the Turnverein Union City and the First German Sport Club of Brooklyn. The game ended in a 9 to 9 draw. Newark TV joined the other two and they played some friendly games.
The Hawks-Chiefs matchup was the only NTL match known to have been televised; in fact, it was one of the few known to have been played, as press coverage of the loop was almost nonexistent. A local Boston-area newspaper, the Charlestown Patriot and Somerville Chronicle, covered at least one of their matches, as the Comets played at Medford Street Gym in Charlestown, Massachusetts with several local players. After a win over Detroit (the Hawks’ first loss of the season) on February 3, 1979, the Comets record was reported as 4-0, including two victories over Philadelphia in December. Whether the league’s first season (scheduled to run through April 1979) was completed is unknown; most likely, the NTL died quickly and disappeared. (“National Teamball League, Inc.” was incorporated by Johnson in August 1978 and dissolved in March 1980.)Handball in the United States is a minor sport. The U.S. is represented in international competitions, such as the Summer Olympics and the Pan American Games, by the United States men’s national handball team and the United States women’s national handball team. The U.S. men’s and women’s teams have struggled in international competitions against nations where handball is more popular.In 1927 the German American Athletic Union (GAAU) started to sponsor field handball. The first handball chairman was Gustav Ricke from First German Sport Club of Brooklyn. In the season 1927-28 only friendly games were played.It is governed by USA Team Handball, which is funded in part by the U.S. Olympic Committee. Previously, the governing body was the United States Team Handball Federation, but was revoked of its governing duties by the United States Olympic Committee.

European teams have historically dominated handball at the Olympics, but Brazil and controversial Qatar may give them a run for their money at the Rio Olympics.
Dell certainly left his mark on the world of those who knew him. I loved him and I’ll miss him, as will most who were part of his large circle of friends. Santa Barbara won’t be quite the same for me anymore.

Dec 28, 1944 – May 11, 2017. At rest after a brief illness, devoted husband of 36 years to his wife Nana, proud father of John, Jeff and Angela Dullea and cherished grandfather of Tyler and Jordan. Ed leaves behind his beloved brother and sister, Charles Dullea (Patti) and Mary Dullea, his nephew Sean (Karli) Mullane and nieces Kelly Mullane and Jennifer Dullea and great nephew Grant, mother in law Aida McCauley and brother in law Rick Rodriguez along with many other relatives and lifelong friends who will miss him dearly.
Friends and family may visit at 11am on Thursday May 18th followed by a Memorial Service at 12 noon all at Duggan’s Serra Mortuary 500 Westlake Avenue, Daly City. In lieu of flowers, your donation may be made to Pancreatic Cancer Research at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, 475 Brannan Street, Suite 220, San Francisco, CA 94107 in his memory is appreciated.

Dell Mora was a force to be reckoned with, both on and off the court. He was the life of most parties, and he did love to party. There were some legendary ones at his house in Santa Barbara after the Semana Nautica handball tournaments. No one loved a good time more than Dell.Bob met Eleanor “Ellie” Fleming in Chicago while he was attending Northwestern and she was working in Chicago. After his graduation, they married and immediately left for his tour of duty in Germany. They returned to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1960 and opened his dental practice. Bob and Ellie had five children: Dr. Robert Sanchez and wife, Lianne; Linda Sanchez; Dr. Gary Sanchez and wife, Julie; Dr. Greg Sanchez and wife, Kate; Dr. Leslie Sanchez-Goettler and husband Drew. Their grandchildren are Jasmine, Reed, Bella, Jacqueline, Ben, Will, Jordan and Sophia. Bob provided a wonderful life for his family. He was a supportive father who always encouraged his children to “get ahead and stay ahead” and “get a good education.” His children were his number one priority and he loved spending time with them. He took them and their friends on many adventures to Elephant Butte Lake, snow skiing, and other fun trips throughout the years. Don Davis was born Jan. 16, 1935 in Muscatine, the son of William and Elva Davis. He married Nancy Peters in 1955. He graduated from Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., and received his Masters degree from the Univ. of Iowa. He taught social studies and coached football, baseball and basketball. Don was inducted into the United Township High School Hall of Fame in 2007. He met the love of his life while attending a mixer at SCU. He married Rosemarie in May of 1957. Their honeymoon was a cross-country drive to Fort Campbell, Kentucky where he was a member of the 101st Airborne Division. He was part of the team that was called to Little Rock, Arkansas to protect the “Little Rock Nine”. He maintained contact with Melba Beals, Minnijean Brown and Terence Brown for many years. After serving his country, he and Rosemarie came back to California. They settled in Santa Clara, where they raised their two daughters and son and where Rosemarie still resides. Marty became a stock broker and worked up until his recent retirement.He grew up in Santa Barbara & was a an outstanding multi-sport athlete at Santa Barbara High School. In addition, he was an integral part of the backfield on the team that went to the 1949 CIF football championship.Dell Mora was born May 25, 1930 and passed away November 23, 2017. He was 87. He had many things wrong with his body, mainly his inability to produce red, white cells & platelets and was home in hospice care.

Louis was predeceased by his wife of 69 years, Mary Amellio Iannettoni and son, Michael J. Iannettoni. Survivors include his sons, L. James (Dolores) Iannettoni and Mark (Ann) Iannettoni, M.D.; beloved grandchildren, Andrea (James) Carlton, Christopher Iannettoni, Andrew (Alicia) Iannettoni and Timothy (Shannon) Iannettoni; sister, Lucy Amellio; several great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
I spent quite a bit of time visiting Dell and his wife Jean up in Santa Barbara over the past 5-6 years, and here are a few thoughts I have about Dell, who was a very good friend of mine, even though we were a generation apart in years.

While the role of a boxing referee was one of many highlights in his life, his most cherished role was that of grandfather. He went to as many activities as he possibly could, whether it be soccer games, birthday parties or just spending time every Thursday with Emily. Marty leaves behind his wife of 60 years, Rosemarie, his daughters Sharon and Lisa, sons-in-law, Rick and Eric and his three grand-daughters: Stephanie, Katherine (Katie) and Emily, two sisters (Cathy and Lyn) and many nieces and nephews. Marty has joined his brother Roddy and his son Michael in heaven. May he now rest in peace.
Surviving in addition to his parents are his siblings, Roger A. Wolfe, and his companion Darlene, N.Y., Ronda K. Wolfe, Muhlenberg Twp.; and two nephews, Chad and Clayton.Louis Iannettoni, 93, of Jamesville, passed away Saturday, November 4, at Upstate Hospital with his family by his side. He was born in Philadelphia and has been a resident of the Syracuse area most of his life. Louis was a graduate of Michigan Tech University which gave him the opportunity to own his own company, Meloon Foundries in Syracuse for 45 years.

Dell lived a very full life and lived it on his terms. He was as stubborn as they come and he was also one tough sonofabitch. But he also had a softer side which not many people ever got to see (especially those he played against) and he loved people. His best times were being with people and having a few drinks. Captain Morgan was a good friend of his.
The family would like to thank the amazing care team at the Palo Alto VA Hospital. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to your local VA Hospital.In Albuquerque he was an avid handball player and was able to enjoy golf year-round. His last job allowed him the chance to be home more often to soak up the New Mexico sun. Randy E. Wolfe, 56, of West Lawn, passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, October 26, 2017. Born in Harrisburg, he was the son and stepson of John I. and Diane J. (Leibensperger) Wolfe, Perry Twp., and son of the late Nancy A. (Ketner) Wolfe. I met Tom Cunningham at Pete Tyson’s Handball Camp in Steamboat Springs, Colorado back in 1987. Tom and I began a good friendship there, one that went beyond just our love of the game of handball and our Chicago roots. Both Tom and I had left Chicago in our 20’s, with him heading to the mountains of Boulder and me heading for the sun of Los Angeles. But we never lost our love for our Chicago sports teams, especially the Cubs. I’m especially glad that the Cubs won the World Series this year, for so many reasons – one of them being that Tom got to see them win a World Series in his lifetime. Because I found out last Sunday that Tom passed away that previous week. It’s a big loss for me and one that I’ve spent the week processing feelings about. Tom (who I called Gerald – long story) was a good friend of mine and someone who I visited often when I went to Colorado. I always stayed at the house in Boulder with Tom and his wife Nancy and I have great memories of time spent together. And Tom and I remained good friends all these years, even though his handball career ended years ago due to an array of injuries. Tom was a good handball player and a better friend. The players out in the Denver/Boulder area knew him well – not so much around the country, as he didn’t travel much to tournaments. But he loved the game, like so many of us do. And his passing is a loss to me. Safe travels, my friend. Colorado will never be the same for me. – Randy Multack, Bellevue, Was.For 40 years, Dell was involved in the heating/air conditioning business as a sheet metal worker. At a late age (40), he began playing 4-wall handball resulting in 15 national championships. He was also inducted into the Southern California Handball Association Hall of Fame and was a USHA Grand Master. Dell’s national titles (singles and doubles) were from the span of 1980 to 1998.

Marty passed away after a brief illness on Thursday, September 14. Marty was born in Steubenville, Ohio on May 30, 1934 to Martin and Catherine. His family moved to California and settled in Newark, CA where he graduated from Washington High School. He went on to Santa Clara University (SCU) where he graduated in 1956. He later earned his MBA from SCU in 1963.
June 30, 1952 – November 21, 2017. Hank was the beloved husband of Susan Schniepp (nee Dawe) and a loving father to Martha and Anna. Hank was t
he grounding influence and touchstone of family love to his daughters and wife throughout his life. Hank was a loyal brother, a companion to his relatives, and a helpful friend. Don Davis was an avid handball player and was devoted to the sport. I appreciate him teaching me how to play this wonderful game, and all the outstanding aspects the sport has to offer. Thank you, Dad!!! He loved playing handball. Randy was a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pirates. He was a loving son and a friend to everyone. Randy will be sadly missed by many.

Ed was a proud native son of San Francisco and a graduate of St. Cecilia School, St. Ignatius and the University of San Francisco. After serving his country in the US Army, he followed in the footsteps of his legendary grandfather, SFPD Chief Charles W. Dullea and served with distinction in the SFPD for 31 years. Ed was a man of humor who truly enjoyed life and was most likely to be found on the handball court at the Olympic Club, South End Rowing Club and San Mateo Elks Club, riding his motorcycle, tinkering with a classic car or cheering on the SF Giants.
For those who may not be aware, my father (Calvin) passed away unexpectedly, on Monday, while he was at work at St. John’s University. The math professor, who when asked when he would retire, always responded that he would die doing what he loved — and that is what he did (he started as professor at SJU in 1962). My Dad always had a smile and was the “Rock of Gibraltar” for our family (Geni Baker, Adam Mittman and Linda Mittman) and beyond. All are in disbelief that he could possibly be gone.

Hank was born in Illinois and a graduate of the University of Illinois. His career was in the pharmaceutical industry which led him to working in different regions of the country ultimately leading him to choose Albuquerque, New Mexico as the place to retire. He invited people to visit because he was happy to be where snow was measured in scant inches not feet.
Randy was a 1978 graduate of Schuylkill Valley High School and graduated from Shippensburg University. In his younger years, he attended Lutheran Church of the Lutheran Trinity, Leesport. Randy owned and operated Dry Masters Carpet Cleaning of Lehigh Vally.

Marty’s true passion was boxing. After retiring the gloves in college, he still had the itch to be in the ring, so what better option than to become a referee. He started by referring the inmates at San Quentin. He went on to referee and judge multiple amateur and professional bouts. Marty appeared as a boxing referee in an episode of “Midnight Caller”, but perhaps his most famous on-screen role was as boxing referee #5 in the Academy Award winning picture “Million Dollar Baby”. He also appeared in a Northern California Honda commercial. He continued to be a member of the Screen Actors Guild.Besides his family, Bob’s lifelong passion was sports: handball, The UNM Lobos and the Dallas Cowboys. He built Tom Young’s Athletic Club in the 70’s to share his passion with Albuquerque. After returning, Bob and Ellie got to do some well-earned traveling. They had friends all over the world. Later in Life, Bob took great care of Ellie as her health declined. He took her to the VA hospital three times a week so she could play the piano and he would entertain the veterans. He loved to meet new people and share his life with others. Bob always had a joke or story to tell. He was a kind and generous man.

Bob Sanchez was born on December 23, 1929 to Manuel and Felicitas Sanchez and was raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He passed away too soon on September 22, 2017. Bob graduated from Albuquerque High School, University of New Mexico for his undergraduate degree, and dental school at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. Bob served in three branches of the military. He first served in the Naval Reserves while attending UNM, he went for officer’s training in the PLC Program (Platoon Leader Class) of the Marine Core while attending Northwestern. After dental school he became part of the Army Dental Core.Louis was an avid handball player and had been a lifetime member of the YMCA for over 50 years, where he made many lifelong friends. He was inducted into the Foundry Hall of Fame as a Charter Member and recently inducted into the North High School Hall of Fame. He was an accomplished violinist and especially enjoyed playing in church. Dell was a guy who had polio as a kid and wasn’t supposed to walk again. He not only walked, but he ran, and he became one of the best and most celebrated high school athletes to come out of Santa Barbara at his time. He set numerous track and field records that went unbroken for many years, in addition to being an All-Star in football and playing other varsity sports. He went on to a great career in handball, playing in the finals of 20 national singles and doubles tournaments and winning 15 of them, even though he didn’t start playing the game until he was in his later 30’s. As most handball players are aware, the new batch of handballs are on the market. The first run proved to be a little too lively; but the next generation is closer to the older version.

“He took a ‘no prisoners’ attitude, which make him a champion,” Soffer said. Soffer recounted a time when Apollo I astronauts working at Rockwell visited his restaurant, Savitz’ Just Good Food. The men wanted to meet his uncle because handball is a sport of choice for the astronauts. Soffer said his uncle told the men, “I’ve heard a lot about you guys,” and the astronauts replied, “We’ve heard a lot about you.”
You can purchase handballs directly from the USHA, but asking your local sporting goods store to stock them would add convenience for all players. The SCHA currently has a supply of handballs. Rick Herrera is selling them in the San Fernando Valley area. Gary Cruz is selling them in Orange County.Joe defended his handball title at the Pacific Coast Club for more than 25 years, and at the Harbor area YMCA for 30 consecutive years. He was inducted into the Long Beach Sports Hall of Fame and the Southern California Handball Association Hall of Fame.

The deadline for entry into the Junior 3-Wall Nationals to be held Saturday and Sunday, July 22-23, is Monday, July 19. It is time to make plans to head to Venice Beach. The location is ideal, the price is right, and the competition should be outstanding. In addition to the tournament, more footage will be shot for the upcoming documentary on handball. Call Cyndi at 310-399-2775 for more information.
Back in 1940 and again in 1942, Joe and partner Joe Gordon earned the National Amateur Athletic Union doubles championship, representing the old Pacific Coast Club in Long Beach. “He was a demon on the handball court,” Joe Goldsmith’s nephew, Joel Soffer, said.One way to keep the cost of handballs down is for the SCHA to order them four cases at a time. The cost per case is $150 plus shipping. That makes the per can cost under $6. The only way we can purchase this amount of cases is to have distributors in a variety of areas. If your club does not sell handballs or if you are experiencing a per can cost of over $7, this could be the solution. Contact the SCHA at 949-722-1727 if you are interested in purchasing a case.

Handball is a long-standing tradition within the Los Angeles Fire Department. A handful of fire stations have courts, which hosts department and city-wide tournaments.
The Southern California Handball League returned after a sustained interruption due to the pandemic. Lake Forest College alumni Ivan Ruiz, Ricardo Palma, and Vic Perez organized a new league that consisted of five teams with ten weeks of play. The participating teams included the LAAC, Alhambra, Norco, Anaheim Hills, and LAFD. The appointed team captains arranged a line up consisting of two doubles and one singles match each week, with each team playing one another twice during the season.The Los Angeles Fire Department started off strong during the ten-week 2023 season, sweeping their first three weeks of play. Team LAFD won many close tiebreakers and remained consistent throughout the competition. Retired Assistant Chief Chief Roy Harvey was named MVP – winning all his doubles matches while defeating pro players. Former world-ranked #5 Race 4 Eight pro and LAFD team captain Vic Perez also won all his matches. The 2023 season marked the second time LAFD has won the Handball League, with their last league championship coming decade ago in 2013.

“It was a really good experience playing with and against some of the best handball players in SoCal,” stated R48 #25 Jab Bike. “Every match that I was able to play in felt like it mattered. I am glad I was able to play this season, and I look forward to joining the league again whenever it is time to again.”
Looking back, I think I was able to hang with him there for a while because, although I’m about 15 years older, I’m arguably in better physical shape. And although Shorty trains with the very-fit-for-his-age, David Fink, a fellow pro, I probably wouldn’t have otherwise even been able to score 10 on him.Old school Saranacs and Champion (Super Tiger) gloves are nowhere to be found any more (similar thing happened with Spalding no longer making handballs), glove options are limited to USHA and Owen Gloves.

All three types will be sold at the tournament. Best advice is to try on each pair and see how they fit on your fingers. Decide if you want to go with liners or sans liners as that will determine the size of glove you end up using.In November 2020, COVID became all too real. Only two months after I began training, I tested positive for the virus. Ironically, I traced it back to a fellow handball player on the one day I decided to go back after a six month layoff from playing – the longest dry spell from the sport that I had ever experienced. I was so anxious to get back to playing that I didn’t adequately weigh whether or not it was safe to do so – apparently it wasn’t. On November 1, 2020, I began feeling the terrible effects. My wife began exhibiting symptoms soon after. I’m not going to lie. It was awful. Not ventilator awful, but scary, painful and taxing all the same. Our three kids, however, were fortunately asymptomatic. After what seemed an eternity, by the grace of God, my wife and I recovered. I personally have friends that did not survive this virus so I know I’m blessed to be alive.That last one has evolved as much as I have as a player. No longer do I have handball friendships but those people I call friends, eventually come to be considered extended family. Even those I view mainly as “the competition.”

I realize it’s been a while since I’ve added a post but much has transpired in my personal life. Everything from job loss and my mother-in-law’s open-heart surgery (and recovery) to my right knee meniscus tear (and subsequent several-month layoff from the game), it has been a stressful, and oftentimes challenging year.That verse is very apropos for the sport of handball. If our sport is to survive, it is incumbent upon the past – and current – generations to teach, encourage, and promote handball to our youngsters. To sign up, contact tournament directors; Mark Zamora, (626) 840-2219; Roy Harvey, (213)713-5664; Ralph Fregoso, (909) 210-1893. As this is a sanctioned (small ball) tournament, USHA rules will apply and eye guards will be mandatory. USHA Elite: These are the standard USHA gloves and tend to run large, particularly around the fingers. It’s as though they were made for those that specifically wear liners underneath. I typically wear a large but the pairs I’ve tried typically have extra material at the tips. It’s like a person who has a wide foot and has to contend with shoes that are made for length rather than width. My hands are large enough and look a bit cartoonish when I wear them with liners. As it is, there is material left at the tips because I don’t have extremely long fingers. A pair of extra large would just look silly on me and wouldn’t be functional at all.I’m excited to attend this competition and commit to more regularly scheduled blog posts, as well as some added elements pertaining to the destination (things to do, dining, accommodations, etc.).

For now, I’ll also be scheduling a trip to the chiropractor to see if an adjustment helps me in the short term. If it does, I’ll probably continue the sessions until it’s time for Nationals. My hope is to be close to 100% by the time mid-June rolls around. If I can do that, then I’m very optimistic about my chances of coming home with the title. Time will tell.
Proceeds from the one-day, doubles tournament will go towards the upcoming United States Handball Association (USHA) three-wall Junior Nationals taking place at Washington Irving Middle School in Los Angeles July 14-17.

I began playing “big ball” (i.e. handball with a racquetball) when I was a wee little lad (I started when I was eight) in front of the brick-walled breezeway of Niños Heroes Elementary School in South Chicago. I transitioned to a Mexican style variation of handball appropriately called “rebote,” (translated to ‘rebound’ in English) in which the game was played with a large, baseball-sized, rubber ball. I spent many weeknights and summer nights playing on a three-wall court at Bessemer Park. There was a track that circled the handball court that I would run laps on in between games I played. Yeah, I had a lot of energy in my youth. It wasn’t until my mid-20s that I actually began playing with the official handball, which is a small, rubber ball, slightly larger than a golf ball.
Suffice to say, training for an important match or tournament while injured is not ideal. Sometimes you have no choice., however, there are a lot of factors that go into deciding upon your best course of action. For instance, the location of the injury, the severity of the injury, and the time you have left prior to the competition you’re training for.Nonetheless, I had given myself ample time to rest and to stretch the night before. I slept well and ate well and fully came into the finals with the mindset that I could win. In the first game I was believing my own hype as I came to a convincing 15-4 win.Unfortunately, the house, with all their belongings, was a total loss. To make matter worse, the family business, a t-shirt and jersey printing business, was operated out of the home garage. Meaning that not only were all their possessions gone, but so to was their immediate means to make a living.But I get it. We’re still dealing with COVID and the after effects and tournaments aren’t the most important thing in the world. The USHA is trying to get back on track and next year there probably won’t be a national tourney mid-way through holiday season.

So, I’m bumming because I’m not going. Just a little bit. And I’ve been playing so well as of late, probably the best ball in the past several years. But it is my wife’s birthday, and we have family coming in from out of town. I just wish the Nationals had been scheduled a little bit later, as in, after the holidays.
Matches mirrored the Juniors format in that they were best out of three games to 15 points. My first match was at 2 p.m. against local club member Brian Williams, who at first glance, looks a lot like Will Ferrell. His game was no laughing matter, however, as Williams is a tall fellow with tremendous reach, making pass shots and kill shots difficult to make winners. Ultimately, I was able to pull out a two-game victory but not before a mishap towards the end of the first game.And one other handball friend, who chose to remain anonymous (you know who you are). Thank you for believing in my game and investing in my competitiveness.

The near-month of self-quarantine, though, left lasting mental, emotional and physical affects that I’m still dealing with. When 2021 began I decided to do something about the rut I was in. I thought, “I’m really going to take the resolution serious this year.” And so, I did. That stint of training only lasted two and half months before another life-altering event would occur.This odd thought came to mind as I witnessed, what I thought to be a new phenomenon at tournaments, shirt exchanging. To my surprise, however, this has been a thing for a while as I overheard players actively hocking extra shirts they had brought to the tournament to specifically trade with. At my host club, we recently had a mini “ladder” tournament and while the pain had subsided for a bit prior to the event, the week following it saw the pain return with a vengeance. Guess four singles games in a row with no rest was a bit too much for me. One of the main things I’ve learned from him is that regardless of the end result, success is sometimes measured more in the journey than the outcome. Handball is a healthy, lifelong journey, filled with many rewards. As players, we are all trying to get the most mileage out of our bodies and we pay for it with a lot of sweat, blood (sometimes) and tears. But those sacrifices allow you to truly appreciate the friendships you make along the way. Those that begin as friends tend to stay friends and those that start out as foes tend to end up friends as well. So, it’s a win-win either way you slice it.For me, my top choice are the Owen Gloves followed by the EDGE and I have yet to find a pair of USHA Elite gloves to fit me properly. I do go through a lot of Owens and the stitching sometimes fails but I like the feel of them and if I’m mindful of caring for my gloves, they do tend to last me a good while.

I’m sure that is still the case though I must say, I do enjoy seeing creative, new handball shirts (tournament shirts or not) being exchanged and new friendships being formed. Who knows? There’s still a lot of handball left this week. I might just trade for a shirt or two since I’ve already made a bunch of new friends.
My competitive side got the better of me though because I really went all out in those two matches making rest a crucial factor in recovering for the start of the 40+ division the following day. Still, not a bad showing considering it was my first competitive play in almost two years and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to test my mettle against some pro-caliber players.A little bit of background on my love of the “perfect game.” I’ve always been active, athletic, and competitive. As a kid growing up in the late 70s and early 80s, I was always outside with my friends. We would play baseball, football, ride our bikes, go swimming, etc. I was also on the wrestling team all four years of High School, but in the midst of all those activities, the sport of handball was ever the constant.

But as any passionate handballer will tell you, traveling to compete ain’t cheap. Given my past work volatility this past year, I have set up a GoFundMe account to get me to Minneapolis.

I was able to negate his power in that first game but towards the second half of the second game, that glute injury caught up to me, and so did Holdahl, ultimately taking the second game by a score of 16-14. The second game was more of the same as Noah’s opponent kept blasting the ball, which kept Noah guessing and struggling to keep up. The kid had basically figured Noah out and cruised to a two-game victory. I’ll add that this kid ended up winning the bracket, so all-in-all, not a bad first-time showing. Probably the biggest news of this tournament will be the fact that the defending pro champ, Paul Brady, is out to break the all-time, singles title record that he presently shares with Naty “El Gato” Alvarado Sr. For perspective, El Gato was the most dominating and winningest handball player in the history of handball, who was dominant in the 80s. Paul Brady has dominated the sport for the past 15 years and stands a good chance at breaking, what for many decades, appeared to be an unbreakable record.USHA EDGE: While there was sufficient snugness around the fingers, as the EDGE gloves tend to run small (if you wear large, consider going medium with these) the lack of stitching at the finger base meant there was a crinkling of excess material around the palm. I believe the idea was that no stitching at the base of the fingers would allow the ball to roll off a cupped hand easier but I found that this gave the glove a looser feeling particularly when executing a sidearm or overhead stroke. On the plus side, the extra mesh on the back side of the glove does make for extra breathability and therefore, theoretically, should last longer than the Owens. Unfortunately, the EDGE gloves are at the top end of the price range.

My second match came a few hours later in the pro consolation bracket against a young (and I do mean young) John Chapman. Chapman is the younger brother of the late David “The Great One (TGO)” Chapman, who sadly passed away only a few years ago. I never had the opportunity to play his older brother as he was in a different class (think upper stratosphere) altogether. John was athletic, lanky, and as I mentioned, very young, as in more than half my age, young. I relied primarily on my experience and thankfully, he had also had a match earlier in the day. Still, I would’ve preferred to have played him first as we battled the entire match. Ultimately, youth prevailed with an eventual score of 25-20.
I could make the argument that the warranty on certain body parts seems to have been expiring consistently since I turned 45, but I’ve managed to mitigate those little nagging pains. Now that I’m about to turn 50, those little pains are adding up and are now starting to really irk me and are presently the wrench in my training.

My first match was against Braulio “Shorty” Ruiz. Shorty is a current 4-wall handball pro though he is arguably most lethal at playing outdoor three-wall small and big ball. First round matches are a single game to 25 points with a two-minute half-time at 15 points. Since you must win by two points, 25 isn’t always the winning number, though it is the one obviously to strive for.
For now, we will train with the White Ace and come back to the United States Handball Association Junior 4-Wall National Championships on December 27-30. The USHA does a great job at promoting handball to youth and I know there will be great competition there for Noah to test his mettle against. At least they should have an 11-and-under bracket where I can safely assume that none of the participants will have facial hair.

A few years later, I won my first, and still only (sigh) Men’s “B” National Singles title. About a year after that, my wife and I had our first of three children and my love of handball took a back seat. Priorities shift when you get married, and then they shift again when you start a family, however, I found that handball was so ingrained in my DNA that I always found time to play. Handball has always been a good outlet for my competitive side and has kept me in relatively good shape helping me to stave off the notorious “Dad bod” as much as possible.
I have to say I was disappointed at the number of junior entrants in the tourney, especially since it was Noah’s first competition and we had traveled so far. The juniors felt like an afterthought and having had a chance to highlight the kids that did show up and/or offer some sort of pro instruction or recognition, they clearly dropped the ball. With all that I’ve been through this past year, I’ve realized the importance of health, but more importantly, of family and living life to the fullest. Again, I’m blessed to be alive. I’ll make sure to update our progress in the tournament with pics and results on Facebook and Instagram. Tune in and wish us luck. Dan Brennan and Greg Sizemore – My training partners and friends. Thank you for whipping me into competition shape and talking me into giving this competition a shot. Regardless of the outcome, it started with you guys and I appreciate the heck out of you both.

It would be three long and painful months of rehab before I was able to even exercise. And there would be weight gained. I topped out at 230 lbs., the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life. Not being able to play handball or do any exercise, constant concerns of remnants from Covid and the weight gain took a toll on me personally. Still, I personally know people who have not walked away from serious car accidents so I know I’m blessed to be alive.At the event, I plan to blog and cover all the happenings and update my progress (hopefully through the entirety of the event, meaning that I’m being successful).So why the made-up last word and not just make Friends represent my last F? Well, because most of my friends, I consider to be extended family, it’s just a matter of what degree. I would definitely consider my handball friends as secondary family so I would include handball players in that category.At the beginning February, after about five good weeks of training for the eventual return of handball tournaments, I thought I could see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Turns out that the light I was seeing was actually coming from behind in the form of headlights from a speeding vehicle. The driver of the sedan, as I would find out later, was drunk, had passed out at the wheel, and slammed on the gas propelling her car into the back of my vehicle. Luckily, I wasn’t at a stop or or traveling at a slower rate of speed or it could’ve been much worse. As it was, I was traveling a 70 mph in a small SUV and was still propelled forward with enough force that by the time I stopped, I was several hundred feet from the impact point. God guardian angel definitely kept me safe from veering into traffic as I was literally in the middle lane of the freeway. My vehicle was totaled and my back nearly so, though it would take some hours for me that pain to set in.

Lastly, although it was postponed last week due to rain, there will be a fundraiser/social at Smith Park in San Gabriel, tomorrow to benefit and support the family. On the GoFundMe page is a list of clothing sizes that the family members still need. And of course, you can still donate funds as the recovery is going to be long and painful.
However, not all gloves were made equal. Everyone’s hands are different. I have pretty big hands with somewhat thick fingers. They’ve gotten a bit thicker over the years, no doubt from all the handball I’ve played. Here are some of my observations of the gloves that are on the market.Noah was in pretty good spirits despite the obvious disadvantage he was facing. He also wasn’t fazed when his first opponent, who was a lot taller, showed up sporting some very visible facial hair.I do have some time, however, but not much. On the plus side, I have been training for the past several months to the upcoming USHA Handball Nationals in Portland, OR, June 15-19. I’ve taken the marathon, rather than the sprint approach to my goal of winning a national title. So thankfully, I do not have to stress or hit the panic button because I’ve essentially been training for a while now. Unfortunately, this is when I wanted to dig deep and start ramping up my work outs and game sessions.Back in the day, tournament shirts were pretty bland. Most older players have stacks of old tournament shirts…still. I didn’t play as many tournaments as the average handballer so my shirt collection is limited, however, I’ve overused those shirts in my everyday/every week play. My wife wonders why I keep them but I can’t seem to throw any of them away, holes and all. I mean they still fit and all and how many players can still say that?After a four-month layoff, I gradually returned to the sport I have played almost my entire life (that’s 38 years folks)! My timing is back and (most of ) the weight gain I experience has been negated. It’s all good though. I’m waiting for the nationals to return to Chicago, where it was supposed to take place this year but was cancelled due to COVID restrictions in that area. I was born and raised in Chicago, so naturally, I would want to go and make a vacation out of it. It would be really nice to win a title in my home town since that’s where my handball journey started some 40+ years ago. As I look back, I had several opportunities for “winners” but in hindsight, I can see how my injury hampered shots that were typically my bread-and-butter shots. Although Pete had been pushed to two tiebreakers with his previous opponents, my two matches were a lot tougher and I had two even tougher pro matches to boot. So as much as I tried, I was on fumes in the tiebreaker. I gave it my all and I have no shame in it. Pete played smart and patient, weathered the storm and eked out the win at 15-13.To my wife Tracy and my children, Samuel, Vida, and Noah. Thank you for supporting me through the practices and time away from home. I know I’m always going to be a champ in your eyes. I love you all.

The tiebreaker was an all-out grudge match. These 15-point games are supposed to make matches go quicker. Tournament directors made the mistake of putting us on one of the two “show” courts because our match was becoming quite the marathon with neither of us wanting to give the other any quarter.
While all this is great and it’s important to note that this is the first major handball tournament since the whole COVID business started, I’m most excited about the additional junior divisions because my son Noah, who recently turned 11, will be participating in his very first handball tournament. The World Players of Handball (WPH) Foundation, which is the organization hosting this weekend’s tournament, has truly created a wonderful program geared towards introducing and nurturing youth participation – and education – with some of the top pros conducting clinics, demos and exhibition matches.Vicky Urbana – my Morgan Park High School friend and connection. You’re the only one here that remembers me playing during lunch and extra periods along the front wall of MPHS. I owe you a cold one the next time you’re in town for a visit.

We arrived around dinner time and decided to explore a bit and found a place called Trail Dust Town, which included Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse. We decided to go for broke and order up a trio of steaks. This was a fun way to cap off a day of driving and take away any potential nervousness for the upcoming tournament. With dinner out of the way, it was now time to relax and get some much-needed rest.

Noah’s second match almost matched the first as he was competitive in the first game before the opponent was able to identify and exploit his inexperience. Not deterred, Noah was very active in searching for available courts so that he could keep practicing. When he wasn’t watching my matches, he found other kids and just played and had fun.
Still, it was a fun trip and it was great to experience a full tournament with my sons and display the camaraderie, humility, perseverance and sportsmanship that I would want them to display in their endeavors. Talk the talk and walk the walk kind of stuff.Juniors typically use the White Ace, which is the same size as a regulation Red Ace handball, the main difference being lightness and density. Luckily, I had happened to have a White Ace in my bag so he was able to shotgun practice with the ball. To say that playing with the White Ace, after having practiced solely with a racquetball for the previous two months was adjustment, would be a gross understatement. The ball comes out a lot further from the back wall and it just has a lot more zip than a racquetball. I tried not to let on my frustration and disappointment to Noah, who was none the wiser. I just told him we had to roll with it (no pun intended) – and being the good sport and competitor that he is, he did. Before my first match, after that match and so on, any available court we could find, we practiced. Until it was time to leave the club and focus on rest for the big day.

So, I’m easing off the gas pedal momentarily until I feel like I can ramp things up again. I can’t take too much of a break but I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot either. A similar thing happened to me in my last National competition (pre-pandemic in 2019) when I was focusing on developing my ‘hop’ serve. While I was having much success during my warm up games prior to the event, two weeks out I developed an acute case of bursitis in my elbow on my dominant side. So, what was meant to be a weapon in competition, ended up being a non-factor as I had to essentially limit the use of that serve prior to the tournament and during competition. I only let loose in my semi-final match, which I lost by a total of three points. Had I managed to stay completely healthy, I have no doubt that I would have pulled off the win and quite possibly, the title (as my opponent on to win in the Finals).
While I have not had success in the past when the Nationals were in my back yard, I’m hoping the added element of traveling to the event will allow me the extra focus to be successful this time around and bring home some hardware.I entered the two divisions of the tournament because I figured it would be a barometer to test myself and see how far I had been able to push to get in physical and playing shape after my car accident. I could’ve just settled for a local tournament to make my return at during a later time but what attracted me to this tournament was the Junior inclusion. While it’s always great to see the pros compete and it’s fun to hang out with friends and get some competition in, I was more excited for this to be my son’s first foray into handball competition.On the plus side, these gloves also come in a wide assortment of colors, which is popular for those players trying to achieve a coordinated look while on the court. I make it known that there are padded glove options – either padded palms or padded fingers. This is more of an option, I feel, for beginners.The tournament is $100 per team, which is a small price to pay to shore up the next generation of players. Plus, you’ll get a tournament shirt, some kick-butt hospitality and (hopefully) some possible bragging rights.

Ricky has been a fixture in tournaments all throughout the country. He has played at the collegiate level and is often competing at the open level at qualifying events. Personally, he recently began his career as an EMT, with his first day on the job taking place just days after the fire took place.Martha Flores-Reynoso – I love you sis. We’ve always been there for each other. You remember my humble beginnings in the sport and have cheered me all along the way. Thanks for looking out for your big bro. On the eve of the eve of the 67th United States Handball Association (USHA) National Four-Wall Championships at Los Caballeros Sports Village in Fountain Valley, I find myself going through my gear checklist in preparation for my first match Wednesday morning. In the finals I faced my friend Pete Papathemetrios from Concord, CA. We’ve known each other for a few years now but have never had the chance to play each other so I welcomed the opportunity.Owen Gloves: A true workhorse of a glove, Owen Gloves can be seen lining handball bags at clubs and tournaments around the country. For myself, gloves have to fit the fingers snugly. There just can’t be any excess material around the fingers or palm. This give me a greater “feel” of the ball though it does mean that I sweat through pairs quickly because I don’t use liners. This severely shortens the life span of the gloves but being the most reasonably priced gloves, it’s not that big of an issue if you take the time to properly store them to dry (i.e. don’t leave them in your bag all bunched up).