Membership Update from CEO Matt Van Houten

Feb. 12, 2013, 2:08 p.m. (ET)

February 12, 2013

To the USA Team Handball Community:

I’m writing to give you all a brief update on what’s been happening in the world of USA Team Handball since the beginning of 2013.

IHF President Visit:  As some of you know, the President of the International Handball Federation, Dr. Hassan Moustafa, visited USATH in Colorado Springs in December.  Dr. Moustafa is very interested in the development of our sport at the youth level in the United States.  We are currently working with the IHF with the goal of implementing a grassroots level program based upon the IHF’s “Handball@school” initiative.  While we are currently fine tuning the details, we expect to send out a Request for Proposals within the next few weeks, to identify communities to host this program in 2013.  

Junior Men’s Pan American Championships:  Given our extremely limited resources, we are often faced with difficult decisions relating to our participation in international competitions.  For example, our Junior Men’s National Team recently qualified to participate in the Junior Pan American Championships in Argentina.  The team qualified by way of its participation in the IHF Trophy Cup in Mexico City late last year.  For the record, the federation was able to send the team to the IHF Trophy Cup based upon a grant from the IHF.  While we would love to be able to send the Junior MNT to Argentina, there simply is no funding in our budget to do so.  We were faced with the decision of either declining the invitation immediately or giving the athletes the opportunity to self-fund (which would have been more than $1,500 per athlete).  The federation would still have had to expend unbudgeted funds to send staff to support the competition.  While we initially explored sending a self-funded team, ultimately it was my recommendation to the Board of Directors that we decline to participate.  My goal is to bring our federation to a place where we won’t have to make that kind of decision.

National Team Tryouts:  We have begun the process of improving the level of athleticism of our national teams through regular athlete identification events.  We will be conducting tryouts on a monthly basis in Colorado Springs through June, under the supervision of Coach Javier Garcia Cuesta.  

Competition Season:  The competition season is in full swing, with tournaments coming up throughout the country.  I am optimistic that College Nationals and Open Nationals will be well-run, fun and exciting for all.

Development:   We have now distributed the IHF equipment grant, which was delivered late last year, to over 40 community recipients who work mostly with youth and college programs.   We have approximately 50+ new U-10 mini-handball members, thanks to the programs in Minneapolis, MN, (Craig Rot) and Weston, MA (Anne Coulter, Allison Felix).   Other active youth programs deserving of recognition are:  Colorado Springs, Denver, Las Vegas, Lakewood NJ, San Francisco area, and Washington DC.  Several new college clubs are either forming or already practice and play.  The group includes: Penn State University, Clemson University, Colorado State University, Kennesaw State University, Western Illinois University, University of Michigan and the University of Virginia.

Media/Website:  We have hired a new media services professional, Jon Gomez.  Jon is a former high level athlete, having competed for Texas A&M as a javelin thrower.  More importantly, Jon recently completed an internship with the USOC Communications Division and is excited to help bring more exposure to our sport as well as make the website more relevant and easy to use.  Jon can be reached at I want to thank Francesca Simeral for all her hard work and dedication to USATH during her tenure, and wish her the best as she completes her studies at USC.  

As always, please feel free to contact me.  My office number is 719-866-2203, my mobile number is 607-220-3464 and my email address is  

Yours in sport,

Matt Van Houten