We have great athletes, world-class coaching, and great facilities + athletic training, but we are missing one piece and that is the support of the American people. It is people like you that will be integral in making the dream of USA Team Handball competing in the 2016 & 2020 Olympics a reality! Support me and the USA Team Handball National Teams now by clicking the orange "Donate" button to the right of the page (it takes less than a minute)! Unlike some other countries, Team USA is not funded by the government, so your donations will directly go towards training, equipment, accomodation, and travel costs related to handball, which will be ever so valuable as our intensive training prevents us from working full time. No contribution is too small, every dollar is a seed towards the realization of a fantastic vision! Did I mention those seeds are TAX-DEDUCTIBLE!? It's a Win-Win! And with your donation, I will keep you updated on my team handball journey here in Auburn with Team USA by sharing photos, game clips, and updates on my experiences here and across the world via email. Thanks in advance for your generous support, success is a team effort and I'm grateful you are on my team! :)
If you are interested in my personal story with USA TEAM HANDBALL, continue reading below:
In retrospect, my story with Team Handball goes back to when I was eight years old. It was when I was eight that I played my only year of youth soccer in Diamond Bar, California. With basketball and baseball being my first two sports, using my hands to play a ball had become second nature. While I didn't have too much of a struggle not using my hands on the soccer field, I had a strong desire to invent a game that allowed you to use your hands, like in basketball, but also be on an open field and have goalkeepers, as in soccer.
Moving to the greater Portland area, I had the fortune of being exposed to an array of sports, many of which beared similarites to that childhood dream game of mine. Water Polo and Ultimate Frisbee were probably the two closest, but no one game was, "just right". I still remember thinking back in high school, "If only they played water polo on land"
Flash forward to the summer of 2008 and I happened to stumble across an Iceland vs Sweden game at the Beijing Olympics. I couldn't figure out what they were playing, all I know is that when I saw the first wing shot I was hooked on this concept. It looked just like basketball, but there was a lot of traveling and you couldn't step inside the three-point line unless you were the goalkeeper. Eventually a commentator mentioned the sport as "Handball" and that the European countries were the best. It clicked in my head that the Europeans refer to soccer as "football" and this was their equivalent "hand" game.
While not entirely my dream game, I was hooked on Team Handball so I scoured the web trying to find any game footage, highlights, and places to play in the US. Doing some due dilligence, it turned out Portland had started a club team that met on Sundays at Aloha High School in Beaverton, mainly consisting on Europeans who grew up playing the sport in their native country. I sent an email inquiring about playing and they welcomed me with open arms. I was the youngest on the team by at least half of a decade. I would go out each weekend until I graduated from high school, and then I attended college at Oregon State University and joined their club team. Many of my OSU teammates were foreign exchange students who grew up playing the game in their home country, similar to the Portland Club, and I was increasingly being exposed to more of the game.
At recommendation from one of our opponents after playing the Seattle Club, I saved some cash and booked a flight to Colorado Springs over a summer to attend an open tryout, hoping to make the Junior National Team. I received a call back from the Senior Team's Head Coach, inviting me to training camp in Lake Placid later that summer. I went and was invited to our residency program, located at Auburn University, and made the move across the country at the beginning of 2014. For the guys not on contract with professional clubs, this is where the rest of the team lives and trains year around. Our training is similar to that of other professional athletes. We train 15-25 hours a week; including team practice, strength and conditioning, video sessions, individual technical workouts, etc. Some of us work part-time in the area outside of our training to make ends meet, while some of the younger players are attending the university, but we have all left the comforts and securities of home, and have made this sacrifice to commit to our dreams and our country. Additionally, we volunteer in the local Auburn-Opelika community. I personally am a part of a group of players that run free clinics teaching the game of Team Handball to several dozen kids in the area via the Boys & Girls Club.