This year, 35 men's and women's teams from 20 U.S. clubs will travel to Utz Arena (York, Pa.) to compete in the 2015 USA Team Handball (USATH) Open Championships. 

The USATH Open Championships is a large annual round-robin tournament featuring any American handball club that desires to compete in the capstone event. Each club and its players must be registered with USATH. However, unlike previous years, there was no mandate to have competed in a sanctioned USATH event in the 12 months preceding the 2015 Championships.

The 35 teams expected to attend the 2015 Championships is a staggering increase from the 23 teams (14 clubs) that participated in 2014 (Reno, Nev.), and could be the largest turnout for a championship event in the history of USATH. Each team has been placed in their requested divisions--Women's Open, Men's Open, and Men's Elite--and each division will hold a title match on Sunday, May 17 (watch LIVE here!). The draw to determine divisional grouping took place on May 2, 2015, by the Competition Committee.

The majority of this year's competitors hail from the Northeast (17 teams), yet some of the regular annual competitors from the West and a few new challengers from the Southeast will be competing in this year's Open Championships as well. Unfortunately, some U.S. participants from the 2014 Championships (namely, Portland Sasquatch THC, Denver THC, Dynamo HC, and Las Vegas THC) are unable to attend this year's event for various reasons and they will be missed. 

However, this year's tournament will be an impressive showcase with a record number of teams providing three days of non-stop handball action. Daily recaps of the action will be provided by Sangamon House Publishing.

Elite Division
The 2014 Elite Division champion, New York Athletic Club ("NYAC"), is back to defend their title against last year's slew of hungry contenders, including the 2014 silver medalists Los Angeles (LATHC), the 2014 bronze medalists U.S. Military Academy (USMA) at West Point "Black", and Chicago Inter HC, who battled NYAC to a 28:27 penalty shootout finish in the 2014 Elite Semi-finals. The reigning 2014 Most Valuable Player, Jordan Fithian, and 2014 Most Valuable Goalkeeper, Danny Caparelli, hope lead a NYAC cohort of handball veterans and Olympians back to another USATH championship trophy.

Boston THC, champions of the 2014 Men's Open Division, will compete in the Elite Division this year, and look to win trophies in consecutive years. They will be joined in the Elite Division by 2014 Top Scorer Slave Jovanovski (MVP of the 2015 CalCup) and the San Francisco CalHeat THC, as well as the D.C. Diplomats and Carolina Blue handball clubs.

A new wrinkle this year is the influx of the United Handball Club, a team of players that train together in the USATH Residency Program in Auburn, Ala. After a heartbreaking finish in the Last Chance Series against Uruguay this past March, the Team USA members and hopefuls hope to use their cultivated team chemistry to come away with the domestic title in York. 

Last but certainly not least, returning from last year's U.S. Nationals hiatus is the New York City Team Handball Club, whose men's team won the 2014 Canadian National Championship in Toronto last May, and finished first (7-0-3 record) in Division I of the Northeast Team Handball League (NTHL). NYC THC 1 hopes to challenge in-state rival and fellow #1 seed NYAC for the 2015 gold medal, and come away with a fifth U.S. National championship title in 9 years. Currently, the self-proclaimed "World's Handball Team" is the only club team to win titles in both Canada and the United States.

Women's Open Division
With the reigning Women's champion, Dynamo HC, unable to attend the 2015 USATH Open Championships, the Women's Division title will inevitably find a new home this year. Chicago Inter HC, the 2014 Women's silver medalist, hopes to capitalize on the opportunity. However, the Carolina Blue, D.C. Diplomats, and NYC THC women's teams did not attend the U.S. Open National Championships last year, and will certainly have much to prove.

Furthermore, the USMA-West Point women's "Black" team was named the 2015 Women's Division champs of the NTHL, finishing with an 8-2 record, and they earned first place at the 2015 USATH College National Championships in Auburn, Ala. They look to bounce back from last year's fifth-place finish in Reno, and to settle the score against fellow #1 seed, the LATHC Women's Team (fourth place in 2014 Nationals), who defeated the West Point women in the 2015 SELECT Big Four Handball Challenge this April. 

Finally, the young "Jersey Girls" from Ocean THC are eager to test their abilities against the Nation's elite and experienced, while the NYC and Boston THC women's teams--second (7-2-1) and third (5-3-2) in the NTHL Women's Dvision, respectively--are ready to take on new and familiar opponents on the road to the Women's Open Division championship.

Men's Open Division
Last year's visitors from The North, British Columbia THC, are replaced this year by Team Handball Ontario, who witnessed NYC THC step onto their turf and capture the 2014 Canadian National Championship trophy. Ontario hopes to return the favor to the U.S. in York this year, although it would have to be the Open Division trophy that they would take back across the Northern border (international teams are ineligible to compete in the USATH Elite Division).

A number of clubs will be represented in both the Men's Elite and Open divisions this year, including Chicago Inter HC (winner of the 2015 CalCup), Long Island Tigers THC (the developmental team of NYAC, and first place finishers in the NTHL DII division), NYC THC, and USMA-West Point ("Black and "Gold" teams). NYC THC, in particular, would appear to be making up for last year's absence by bringing four squads to this year's event (1 Elite, 1 Women's, and 2 Men's Open teams).

This year's Open Division will also feature a bevy of new clubs that did not compete in Reno last year, such as the Midwest conglomerate "All-Ohio", Georgia HC, Orlando THC, and the Houston Firehawks THC. In fact, three collegiate clubs--University of Virginia, University of Pittsburgh, and Penn State University--opted to forgo the 2015 USATH College National Championships in April, and decided to travel the shorter distance to York and compete in the Open Championships.

The handball community is especially excited to see the D.C. Silencers THC, currently the United States' only registered deaf handball club, in action this year. Originally slated to participate in the NTHL, the Silencers had to forfeit their 2015 NTHL season due to an undermanned roster. However, it will be a treat to finally see the team out of Gallaudet University come together on a handball court this year.

Finally, the U.S. Air Force Academy, who will be coached by USATH CEO Michael Cavanaugh, is fresh off of their first place finish in their April home tournament, the 2015 Falcon Cup. Cadets Sean Cahill (MVP) and Andrew Donlin (Top Scorer; 44 goals) both walked away with awards last year in Reno, but not gold medals. They will be a force to be reckoned with in the Open Division.

Select teams will be previewed in the days leading up to the 2015 USATH Open Championships on USATeamHandball.org.




To see more information about the teams participating in the 2015 USATH Open Championships, click the links below.

To return to the 2015 USATH Open Championships Portal, click HERE.