Handsport Interviews National Team Player Sarah GasconSarah Gascon is without a doubt a multi-skilled player. She has played Volleyball, Baseball and Handball representing the United States in all of them. Nowadays Sarah is training with USA Team Handball for the qualifiers aiming a spot in the World Championship and the Olympics. Sarah gold Handsport her story in sport and shared her opinions.
Handsport talked to Coach Julio about the title as well as the sport popularity in the United States and the first world title by a Panamerican country.
When was your first contact with handball?
My first introduction to handball was in 2002 during a USA Volleyball tryout. After the tryouts a representative from USA Team Handball presented a short video discussing the sport. I just remember my dad and I watching the video and both of us thinking that this was my sport! I ended up making the USA Volleyball Select team and traveled to Czech Republic that summer to compete. So I didn't start handball immediately. In fact, it wasn't until two years later that I contacted USA Team Handball to pursue the sport!
For which clubs or universities did you play?
In college I earned a full-athletic scholarship for volleyball and softball. I didn't play handball until I was 23 years old.
When did you play your first game for Team USA?
In 2005, I was working and was sill trying to accomplish my dream of competing in the Olympic Games. That's when I revisited USA Team Handball. I filled out the player recruitment form and they sent me an email almost immediately. They invited me for a tryout. At the end of the week tryout the coach sat me down and went over all the player assessments and he invited me to join the USA Women's National Team. It was such an exciting moment! I just turned 23 years old and I was ready to play for my country again. After tryouts I headed back home to California, packed my bags and headed back to New York to train full-time with the USA Women's National Team. My first games were against Canadian teams. However, my first international game was against Israel in 2006 in France. Our National Team headed to Germany, France and Netherlands to play in some tournaments. That was a great tour! I have also been a member of the USA Women's Baseball team since its inaugural year in 2004. We competed in the first World Championships for women's baseball and won the gold medal. We repeated again in 2006, but unfortunately won the bronze in 2008 and 2010.
You played in the 2011 Pan Am Games in Guadalajara and the 2013 Pan Am Championship in Santo Domingo. How did you analyze Team USA's and Team Brazil's progress in this time?
I have played in a few Pan Am Championships and I played in my first Pan Am Games in 2011. It has been difficult to analyze Team USA's progress because we have not had the same coaching staff nor the same athletes. As I stated in the previous question, I have been apart of the USA Women's National Team since 2005 and during that time I have had five different coaching staffs and numerous teammates that have been added and subtracted from the program. So I would say the next time people see Team USA it will be a completely different team. Brazil has been pretty consistent for the most part. They are very fit, quick, smart, and they have great handball instincts. They have changed a few players, but it's obvious their training hasn't changed. They are a great team to play against. We had a great time at dinner and the leadership from both teams were very friendly and believed in mutually supporting each other. I only wish it would apply to sponsorship, as the Brazilian team is very well sponsored and we are virtually without sponsors or funding. We have so much respect for Brazil, their program, and especially their players.
In your opinion did North American players feel inspired by Brazil's title to fight for a spot in the next World Championship?
I can only speak for myself, but I was extremely excited for Brazil! I tend to cheer for the America's (unless of course Team USA is playing against anyone in our hemisphere). I think it's really important for the countries in our hemisphere to cheer for each other (especially when we are competing in World Championships). Now our hemisphere has five teams that can qualify for Worlds as opposed to four. Once again... I'm excited for Brazil!
You are training in Alabama with Team USA. What are the upcoming competitions?
I actually quit my job and moved here to Alabama last week. It's hard to compete with dreams. I have ALWAYS wanted to be an Olympian and I recognize sometimes you have to make major sacrifices in order to accomplish your dreams. Right now we are training full-time. We have training early in the morning and practices at night (Monday through Friday). Right now there are no scheduled competitions, we are just training for the qualifiers.
Did you watch Brazil's games in the world championship? What did you think of their performance?
Yes, I did watch Brazil. They were spectacular. Exactly what I remember from Pan Am Championships. It is such a beautiful sport to watch when it's played like that. They were great representatives for their country and our hemisphere.
This story was originally posted by Handsport and can be found on their website here. You can also follow Sarah Gascon and her journey by following her Twitter. Photo courtesy: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images North America