National Team Athletes Win Big at First Open Beach Championships
USA Team Handball athletes celebrate their success at the 1st American Open Beach Handball Championships last weekend
The Women’s USA Team Handball National Team defeated a strong Colombian Team, [2:0], to win gold medals and the Mayor’s Cup, and the Men’s USA National Team players earned bronze. In addition to a gold medal, the Women’s National Team goalkeeper, Staci Self, won the Most Valuable Goalkeeper for the Women’s Division.
The aforementioned Santa Catalina Islas Colombian Women’s Beach Handball Team won the Women’s Division silver medal. In the Men’s Division, the Santa Catalina Islas Colombian Team won the Men’s Division gold medal, and the Miami Panthers Team Handball Club earned silver.
WNT goalkeeper Staci Self (center) earned the first ever AOBHC Women’s Most Valuable Goalkeeper award
Teams also took home monetary prizes of $1,000, $500, and $250, for first, second, and third-place finishes, respectively, provided by the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Sports Commission.
The first ever American Open Beach Handball Championships were held on The Hangout, Gulf Shores, AL
Ms. Piankova is also leading the initiative to increase participation in beach handball among elementary, middle, and high schools in the Gulf Shores area, as well as to promote the sport in the United States in general. Her incredible efforts with beach handball are laying the foundation for what may become a staple in American physical education curricula, and the future of United States beach handball success at the international level.
In attendance were the Mayor of Gulf Shores, Robert Craft; Gulf Shores Director of Recreation and Cultural Affairs, Grant Brown; former USA Team Handball Presidents Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich and Dennis Berkholtz; USA Team Handball Women’s National Team Coach, Christian Latulippe; and 1996 USA Team Handball Olympian Derrick Heath. Mike Noble, official announcer at the five most recent Olympic Games for team handball, served as the announcer and production manager of the main court during the tournament.
Over 120 children and teens attended the Open Beach Handball Championships over the weekend
Beach handball, while very different from indoor team handball, provided the National Team athletes and Residency Program attendants the opportunity to build chemistry leading up to major handball tournaments and competitions.
Former Olympian Derrick Heath, Mayor Robert Craft, former USATH presidents Tom Rosandich and Dennis Berkholtz, and WNT coach Christian Latulippe attended the tournament
Many of the National Team athletes will be competing on various city teams in the Club National Championships held May 16-18 in Reno, Nevada. The USATH Women’s National Team will be competing in a friendly invitational tournament from June 3 – 12 in Brazil, while the Men’s National Team will travel to Uruguay for the Pan American Championships, held from June 22 – 28.
To learn more about USA Beach Handball, please contact Dede Piankova at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit them on Facebook. For more information about the championship tournament, visit the AOBHC website.
Thanks to WNT athlete Ashley Van Ryn and former USATH President Thomas P. Rosandich for photo contributions to this article.