USA Team Handball, the Salt Lake City-based National Governing Body for the Olympic sport of handball, today announced the first steps toward ensuring USA participation and success in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England.
USA Team Handball (www.usateamhandball.org) will hold tryouts in each of its five regions over the next six months, beginning at the Chicago Inter Challenge, Oct. 17-19, at Northeastern Illinois University.
"The search for tomorrow's handball stars begins Friday, October 17," said Steve Pastorino, the recently appointed general manager of USA Team Handball. "Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics make it a perfect place to broaden our search for athletes who aspire to wear the stars and stripes in the Olympic Games. We are excited to work with Chicago Inter, Chicago 2016 and World Sport Chicago to put on this event."
Athletes interested in trying out for Team USA (Men, Women or Youth) are invited to showcase their skills on Friday, Oct. 17. The tryout fee is $40 and includes a commemorative shirt and admission to the three-day tournament. Advance registration is required. Details are available at http://usateamhandball.org/play/tryouts or by calling (801) 463-2000.
The Midwest's premier handball club, Chicago Inter (www.chicagointerhandball.org), will co-host the tryouts in conjunction with its second annual tournament. Four men's and four women's teams from around the United States will participate, highlighted by the USA Women's National Team.
The USA National teams have dispersed since failing to qualify last year for the 2008 Olympic Games. The Chicago tournament will feature the first reunion of the USA Women's National Team, which will compete against top-level clubs from New York (U.S. Army / West Point), Chicago (Inter) and South Carolina (Furman University). Multiple members of the USA Men's National Team will participate as members of the Atlanta team, which will face competition from Chicago (Inter), New York (U.S. Army / West Point) and New York (N.Y. Athletic Club).
The USA Women's pool features three athletes who compete in Europe professionally -- Jen Farrell (Los Angeles, CA), Kathy Darling (Milford, DE) and Megan Ballard (Atlanta, GA). Players with Big Ten connections include Tabitha Lowey (Northwestern University), Tomuke Ebuwei (Penn State) and Sarah Gascon (graduate student at Penn State). The USA Men's pool features two players with European experience - Mark Ortega (Columbus, OH) and Gary Hines (Atlanta, GA).
"We're seeking athletes who excelled at the NCAA or professional level in sports like basketball, football and soccer who know what it means to commit to excellence and dare to dream of playing in the Olympics," said Amir Haskic, technical director for USA Handball.
Furthermore, USA Team Handball hopes to identify players to join youth National teams, realizing that long-term sport growth depends on a broad pipeline of up-and-coming athletes.
USA Team Handball announced today that it is actively recruiting five regional directors and five regional coaches, who will fan out across the country to build grass roots programs, conduct tryouts, advise high school and collegiate teams and produce showcase events.
In order to provide opportunities for rising youth and training for national team pool members, the search is underway for five regional centers of excellence (COE). With a goal of diversifying the sport's training base, which recently centered around New York (women) and Georgia (men), USA Team Handball is already considering COE sites in Arizona (Tempe), California (Los Angeles) Pennsylvania (State College), Illinois (Chicago), Ohio (Columbus), Texas (College Station) and Utah (Salt Lake City).
For more information, visit www.usateamhandball.org or call (801) 463-2000.