About a year ago, Charlie White was presented with a unique opportunity as a result of his beach handball training.
The U.S. Men’s Beach National Team athlete will be featured on national primetime television this week as one of the contestants on the game show Ultimate Tag, which premieres May 20, 2020, on FOX.
“I grew up playing tag as a kid — I was a military kid, so the kids on the base would all play with each other constantly,” White said, who played soccer in college at Vanderbilt.” I made friends through sports, even though we moved around a lot. We used to play tag in trees, or in buildings, everything. It got pretty crazy.”
The show is described on FOX’s website as a high-octane physical competition based on the classic playground game of chase co-hosted by NFL sibling trio J.J., T.J. and Derek Watt. Competitors vault, dodge, tumble and dive over various epic, three-dimensional moving courses, with one goal: “Don’t get caught.”
White said that his involvement with the show, which had been filmed about a year ago, had been a complete byproduct of his training for beach handball.
“I had recently come back from the 2018 IHF Beach Handball World Championships in Russia, where I got to see the world's best players, and I felt like the U.S. was right there, we were so close. When we got back, I went to all of these training sessions to work on my individual skills,” White said.
“I went to this boot camp in Marina Del Rey, where the trainer saw me, gave my name to a casting director and said he should check me out for this new show. I wasn't looking to be on a TV show, but that kicked off the whole process.”
White, who works in the tech industry and makes video games as a UX Designer, has been playing for two and a half years after getting introduced to the sport by now-retired national team player Vince Marchbanks.
Marchbanks and White’s teammate, Ebiye Udo-Udoma were in the Ultimate Tag audience, watching their teammate compete. White said he didn’t think much of the show at first, assuming it was going to be some reality TV show.
He still decided to go through with the initial Skype interviews, which led to a series of athletic combines at a parkour gym, and was soon cast for the show.
White, who has been playing beach handball for two and a half years, in action on the Ultimate Tag course. Photo credit: Ultimate Tag FOX
“I loved everything about the show. I love competing in arenas in front of people every chance I get. I feel like the more pressure and the bigger the crowd, the better I do,” White said. “My favorite part was being out there in the arena and the atmosphere — you could feel this electricity in the air. I could feel it when we got out there and could hear the crowd roaring. It was super cool.
The San Francisco native said he thought his beach handball background prepared him well for the Ultimate Tag competition setting.
“I felt like beach handball gave me a big edge. The sport is so diverse because you’re jumping, running and leaping, and a lot of it is timing and finding that space and opportunity,” White said. “I feel like a lot of other athletes, who might be these amazing CrossFit athletes or distance runners, didn't recognize or take advantage of those openings. I feel like that timing and strategic thinking in real time from beach handball was really useful and helped me a lot.”
White and the U.S. Men’s National Team had been preparing for the 2020 IHF Beach World Championships, which were originally scheduled for this summer in Pescara, Italy. Due to Covid-19, however, the event has been postponed.
“I want the U.S. to not only compete at the world championship, I want us to win a medal. I feel like we're really close, we have a very talented team. We just need to find that little bit to push us over the threshold,” White said.
“It’s been a great honor for me to represent the United States with the Beach Handball program. I love the spectacular goals in the sport, the incredible atmosphere at the tournaments and the opportunity to travel internationally. I’ve been training consistently to be ready and when the world championship does come around after this pandemic, I hope I get the opportunity to stand on the podium with the USA Beach Handball team.”
White getting interviewed as a contestant on Ultimate Tag. Photo credit: Ultimate Tag FOX