The Official Unofficial 2014 Club Nationals Team Preview US AIR FORCE ACADEMY FALCONS

May 05, 2014, 12 p.m. (ET)
The Unofficial 2014 Club Nationals Team Preview: 

By Maurice Godwin

Your club’s head coach was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of USA Team Handball. You’re team earned a bronze medal at the 2014 College National Championships. Your high-scoring left back was selected as an alternate on the USA roster for the Pan American Championships. And just for kicks, you hosted a tournament and competed against two of the toughest teams up North.

Not bad for a 30-day stretch, wouldn’t you say?

Realistically, the United States Air Force Academy Falcons are no stranger to handball success. Founded in the mid-1970’s, the Falcons have produced many talented handball players who have represented the USA in international competition. Four Academy alumni have represented the USA in the Summer Olympics. Six have represented the USA in the Pan American Games (with three winning gold medals in 1987).

And there’s a strong chance you’ll see a future National team athlete emerge from the current crop at the 2014 Club National Championships next month in Reno, NV.

The USAFA Falcons earned Bronze at the 2014 College National Championships

Mike Cavanaugh, the aforementioned CEO of USATH, has coached the Falcons for the last 15 years and has lead the team to its most successful stretch. Since 1999, Air Force Academy has medaled in the College National Championships nine times, winning gold in 2002. (Is it too early to throw the “dynasty” word around?) And before coming to USAFA, Coach Cavanaugh played (1973-76) and coached (1978-80) the US National Team. 

Coach knows what he’s doing.

Falcons coach Mike Cavanaugh is also the new CEO for the USA Team Handball Federation

A few players you’ll see in action for the Falcons next month:

In the backcourt, Stephen Stein (they call him “Scuba”—insert funny backstory or impressive aquatic accomplishment here) will bring his four years of USAFA handball experience to Reno to help the Falcons secure another Club Nationals medal.

Circle-runner Nick Slater also has four years of handball experience with the Falcons. Don’t be surprised if you see Slater taking it easy during pre-match warm-ups. He prefers to save all the intense action until after the initial throw-off: “I don’t like to sweat before games. It means I’m working too hard.”

Direct quote from pivot Nick Slater: "Slaters gonna Slate"

Last but not least, we have back Andrew Donlin. Donlin is a three-year player for Air Force Academy, and is having a great year so far for the Falcons. Earlier this April, Donlin was selected as an alternate for the USA Men’s National Team that will be traveling to Uruguay for the Pan American Championships in June. A few weeks later, he took home the Highest Scorer Award from the 2014 College National Championships after hitting 27 goals from all over the court. The handball community will be eager to see what this young competitor has in store for the upcoming Nationals tournament.

Andrew Donlin is the newest member of the USATH National Team


Although the competing U.S. Air Force Academy team is limited to only cadets and students at the Academy, anyone in the Colorado Springs area is welcome to practice and scrimmage with the Club. Practices are 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm, Tuesdays through Thursdays, from September through April. If you’re interested in getting some run against the Falcons club, contact Cadet Connor Lee at (916) 769-1112 for exact schedules and directions, as it practices are always subject to change.

If you plan to go to Reno for the 2014 Club National Championships, be prepared to see a well-oiled USAFA machine execute on the court en route to another strong finish in the tournament.

For more information about the USAFA Team Handball Club, visit their website or check out their Facebook page.