Women's Tryout Attracts Fourteen Hopefuls
By: Maurice Godwin
USA Team Handball Communications Specialist
It looks as if Coach Christian Latulippe may have some new talent to work with.
Since the USA Team Handball Federation made its home in Auburn, Ala. last summer, only a handful of women have shown up to the Residency Program tryouts held every few months on the campus of Auburn University. However, this past weekend, Coach Latulippe and the Senior Women's National Team welcomed 14 athletes to the Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum--the most ever for a Women's Residency Program tryout--and presented the opportunity to compete for a chance to wear the Red, White, and Blue.
Coach Latulippe was joined by well-known members of the handball community in his efforts to unearth the latest American handball talent. Also serving as player evaluators were former Olympian and Alabama Hall-of-Fame member Reita Clanton, former Women's National Team Coach Chris Cappelmann, and French handball star and Olympic silver medalist Allison Pineau. They, along with Latulippe, guided the 14 candidates through a crash-course of handball basics while assessing their potential as players.
Not surprisingly, many of the women attending the tryout had little to no prior handball experience. However, seven of the prospective athletes had previous soccer experience, while a few came from basketball and softball backgrounds. There was even a former two-time WNBA champion who attended the tryout hoping to join the Residency.
A few members of the cohort did have handball experience at their disposal during the tryout: a former handball player for the United States Military Academy at West Point's club team, a participant from the Western Regional Women's Camp, and a former member of the Israeli National Team.
Though the experience levels ranged from novice to internationally experienced, all the candidates benefited playing alongside and against the current WNT athletes during the coach-imposed drills. Team USA's players were consistently vocal throughout the tryout, offering feedback to the candidates and helping them learn on the fly. During the scrimmage, each of the candidates made at least one memorable handball play, much to the delight of the National Team players.
After the mock gameplay, Coach Latulippe fielded questions from the potential handballers and explained the goals of the USATH residency program, which include qualifying for the Pan American Games in 2015, qualifying for the Olympic Games in 2016, and providing athletes the foundation to become internationally-experienced handball players. Though honest about the small size of the Federation, he offered the candidates the hope of growth and international exposure through hard work and dedication.
Coach Latulippe and his team of evaluators met with each athlete individually to discuss her potential as a National Team member. If offered a position in the Residency Program, the athletes would move to Auburn, Ala. to train with the Women's National Team on a daily basis, and take advantage of the sports optimization services offered by Auburn University's School of Kinesiology and Rehab Works of the East Alabama Medical Center.
Coach Javier Garcia Cuesta will host a Men's Residency Program tryout on Saturday, July 19, in Auburn, Ala. to strengthen the Men's USATH player pool.