Youth Development Continues to Build in San Francisco Bay Area

By Martin Bilello | Oct. 20, 2017, 3 p.m. (ET)

Building on top of the success of the first season in 2016, San Francisco CalHeat THC looked to expand the number of teams to take part in its Youth Team Handball League, and the second edition of the Youth California Cup in 2017. The key to achieving this goal was the addition of a Middle School league and tournament.

With that in mind the members of the club kept reaching out to schools and organizations across the Bay Area, and even-though not all of them were able to start a club on time, there are a lot of people interested to start a club when next season comes. The main hurdle is finding a coach for the teams, since SF CalHeat volunteers are not enough to handle the demand.

Another challenge is the organization of enough referees for the increased number of games and school time constraints. SF CalHeat invested in educating their own volunteers and has started discussions with different professionals and organizations to learn the sport and help them with the demand for referees.

Thanks to having a local competition where young kids can play, SF CalHeat was able to establish their first youth team, fulfilling a long delayed accomplishment of being the first club in the country that has teams competing at the Adult Men and Women, and now also at the Youth level. The newly created SF CalHeat Youth Team will compete at the Middle School level this season.

USATH is endorsing the program and its events again this season, which beginning saw a record number of attendees to their kick-off clinic where 50 kids and their coaches were able to learn the basics of the sport and have more tools to run their practices. Danilo Rojevic, SF CalHeat Men’s coach led the coaching clinic and liked the young talent in display: “I was impressed by the number of kids who showed up. There's a lot of interest for the sport in California (and generally in the U.S.) and potential talents who'll hopefully be future USATH athletes”

Michelle Mensing was the organizer of the clinic and ran the event coordinating the record number of volunteers: “We took a big step forward with this year’s coaching clinic. Not only in numbers of athletes, but especially in quality of content that we provided the coaches and athletes with. I am most proud of the ten coaches that go out of their comfort zone, keep asking questions and help each other out.”

Hummel came aboard as the official apparel sponsor this season, not only providing the necessary materials for the practice of Team Handball, but also bringing the validation to the program that says they are doing things the right way and the big players on the sport are behind the program and the effort. SF CalHeat is proud to be a partner with Hummel in this endeavour.

The 2016 champions, Sterne High School is planning its first trip to a tournament in Edmonton, Canada, and even though they expect to have a tougher competition, the players and the organization are excited and eager to embark on this new challenge. 2016 USATH Coach of the Year Craig Brewer put it perfectly when he said “We are really looking forward to going up to Edmonton and seeing where we need to get to be at the next level. The players are really focused on getting better, but we feel like we need to set our sights higher or we won't stretch as far as we can grow. We just feel like losing by a lot, and being physically pushed around is what we need to experience to be real leaders in growing quality team handball at the high school level in the States.”

Another first for the season is that one of the Middle School teams is from a public school in San Jose. Castillero MS is part of one of the largest school districts in the Bay Area and one of the most innovative districts in the country, and the Arts Magnet school embraced the sport and integrated it into its after school programs. They hope to lead by example and encourage other schools in the district to also adopt it.

Martin Bilello, Director of the Youth Development Program at SF CalHeat was very impressed with the response the community is showing and said: “It’s really something special to see how much love there is for Team Handball, and how passionate the newcomers to the sport can be. We want to keep growing and be an example to the entire US Team Handball family, showing that it can be done, and sharing our experience with everyone so they can also grow the sport on their communities.

The San Francisco CalHeat Team Handball Youth Development Program needs all the help it can get, if you want to support them, give a hand, or send an encouraging message, please reach out to them at youth@calheat.com. You can stay up to date with their progress by visiting their website www.calheat.com and like their Facebook page www.facebook.com/CalHeat

You can purchase new handball gear and support the Youth Program through purchases at https://shopteamhandball.com by promo code SFYTH for a 10% discount, and another 10% will go towards the Youth Program.