USA Team Handball News "The Rookie and The ...

"The Rookie and The Vet" - Entry 6

June 26, 2014, 9 a.m. (ET)

The veteran is preparing his mind and body for one of the toughest challenges of his handball career.

His teammate is gearing up to compete in his first ever international tournament donning the Red, White, and Blue.

One has an idea of what to expect. The other is ready for anything.

They both have their sights on the elusive Pan American Championships gold medal. And you get to read their story as they blog their way through the experience.

Captain Jordan Fithian and first-year member of Team USA, Ebiye Udo-Udoma, present: “The Rookie and The Vet” – Blogs from the Pan American Championships.

Entry #3: The Rookie
June 26, 2014

"Too little, too late"

One of the worst feelings anybody will ever experience is seeing a dream crumble before their eyes. The combination of shock, disappointment, and resentment creates a sinking feeling to the depths of your core that makes you feel smaller than a grain of sand. When you consider the resources, time, and sacrifices collectively made to try and make history out of a great opportunity, not having it manifest is soul crushing. Our 27-23 loss to Uruguay has taken us out of contention to win the Pan-American Championships, or qualify for the 2015 World Championship's in Qatar.

The game was the main event of the night as Uruguay is the host country of the tournament. The gym was full of their supporters and they created a loud, exciting atmosphere. That coupled with my being bestowed with the responsibility of neutralizing the cat-quick Uruguayan wing on my side of the floor, and I was in a very determined, optimistic state of mind. That mindset faltered a bit when we started the game by giving up seven unanswered goals. The frustration amongst the team was quite evident, visibly and audibly, as the reality that we could lose this game, that we whole-heartedly expected to win, sank in. Uruguay found constant holes in our defense and finished clinically. Our offense was stifled by a myriad of missed shots, turnovers, and a line fault by your's truly that would have been our first goal. Fortunately, Vladimir Andjelic took it upon himself to go 1v1 to finally get us on the scoreboard, but we managed only four more goals in the half, and found ourselves down 15-5. 

Finding ourselves in a deep hole and looking to make a miraculous comeback, we made a different story out of the second half by playing with a quality much more congruent with how we expected to play. The second half started in a similar manner to the first half, with us managing to trade goal for goal, at best. As time winded down and we were still down double digits, we implemented a never before practiced, man-to-man defense out of desperation. The tactic worked in taking Uruguay out of their element. Backed by the solid goalkeeping of Ivan, we flustered their attack and generated some easy counter attack goals. We started sharply, reducing their lead and finding ourselves within four goals with minutes remaining, but a 2-minute suspension to our defensive specialist, Lewis Howes, extinguished our fiery comeback. While we outscored Uruguay 18-12 in the second half, it was simply too little, too late. 

I imagine the next three games will be a revelation of character more than anything else. The fact that Qatar 2015 is out of sight doesn't change the fact that we are still here in Uruguay and we still have to play three more games. What do you do when you can't accomplish your goal, but still have to push forth? I was once told adversity is a grindstone, and whether it grinds you down or polishes you up depends on what you are made of. It will be interesting to see what we are truly made of without the motivation of playing for something greater, to see if we can draw upon an internal source of motivation and still play hard, learn from our past mistakes, and win 5th-place consolation. 

We look to get the first win of our South American trip in an early afternoon game against Guatemala, the final team in our pool that also went 0-2 against Brazil and Uruguay. After pool play concludes, Friday will be a rest day for all the teams and the seeding games will be on Saturday and Sunday. 

From the boys in Red, White, and Blue to you, thanks for supporting USATH! Til next time.

Note: Due to technical difficulties of the original live-streaming sites, there are multiple alternate links to watch the tournament:

Related Athletes

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Jordan Fithian

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Ebiye Udo-Udoma