This past weekend, Denver Team Handball board members John Steffen and Attila Agoston attended the Colorado Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (COAHPERD) Annual Convention to discuss team handball. Their presentation titled, "Team Handball: Get Your School Involved In An Olympic Sport," focused on ways physical education teachers could bring the sport into the classroom.
"As a board member, you are your organization's arms," recently elected USA Team Handball board member Agoston said. "Reaching out to the community and developing resources is one of our main goals."
The 50-minute interactive presentation began with a short introductory video, instructions on setting up the court, and review of the rules and positions. The session continued with teaching and demonstrating basic passing, shooting, and defending techniques. Following the presentation, teachers participated in small-sided games under the guidance of Agoston.
Following the games, many of the 60 teachers in attendance asked how they could get connected with USA Team Handball. While some committed to running team handball lessons in their classes, others asked if it was possible to modify the game to fit limited spaces or budgets some may face.
While other sports may find difficulty in answering the question, team handball proves to be the exception. After all, Steffens has a game called 'Speedball' to thank for his introduction to team handball.
"It goes back to Mr. Walpole teaching us his version of the game in P.E. class back at Carey High School in Long Island," the former USA Jr. National Team player said. "Was it the purest form of the game? No, but it was close enough."
For those who, like Steffen, developed an interest for the real game, Mr. Walpole introduced them to Laszlo Jurak, then head coach of Garden City Team Handball Club.
"The fact that Mr. Walpole had a relationship with Laszlo and the guys at Garden City gave me the chance to play outside of school and really learn the sport."
Steffen's story is one Agoston believes can become more common in the U.S.
"It is a long road, but COAHPERD and similar events could have a huge impact on developing the grassroots programs," Agoston said. "This is a great opportunity to turn our mission into action."
The mission of COAHPERD is to provide leadership, professional development and advocacy for health, physical education, recreation and dance professionals in the state of Colorado. It has between 500-700 members and provides an annual convention in October. COAHPERD is a member of the larger national organization of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. A directory of all of the state associations can be found at http://www.aahperd.org/about/States.cfm.