The D.C. Diplomats: Focused, Humble, and Hungry
By: Bryan Cothorn, Mila Manevska, and the D.C. Diplomats Team Handball Club

A name that is known up and down the East Coast, D.C. Diplomats (DCD) Team Handball, will return to the annual USA Team Handball (USATH) National championships tournament for the first time since 2010. The 2015 USATH Open Championships will be the second ever appearance for the DCD Men’s Team, and the first time competing in the Elite Division.

DCD was founded in 2001 by former U.S. National Team member John Ryan, and quickly became a force on the East Coast. While the men developed an early rivalry with Garden City Team Handball (now New York Athletic Club), the women’s team tore through their competition, winning USATH National Championships in 2004 and 2005, and earning two MVP awards (Katharina Ellmers and Marketa Chromkova).

Reformed in 2008, DCD has championed sustainability and creating a diverse, welcoming atmosphere. Players with experience in nine U.S. National Team programs and over 40 countries have contributed to the organization’s membership over the past seven seasons. Uniting players residing Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, D.C., and Virginia, DCD’s focus is on developing a network of handball in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

During the 2014-15 season, the DCD Men won the 2014 Tar Heel Invitational (Chapel Hill, N.C.), defeating Clemson, UNC, and Carolina Blue twice on the way to an undefeated record. The team finished fourth in a seven-team field in the Northeast Team Handball League (NTHL), providing serious challenges to Boston Team Handball and the United States Military (USMA) at West Point "Black" team. This season’s DCD Men's Team was the only team in NTHL history to tie NYC THC twice in the league.

The DCD Women have shown over the course of the season to have the ability to surprise any opponent. Posting the second best defensive record in the NTHL, DCD Women earned season splits with USMA-West Point "Black" and Boston Team Handball.

“Our Men's Team has proven to be among the strongest in the nation, and was invited to be part of the Elite Division at this year's [Open Championships]," claims club
 President Mila Manevska. "Their team chemistry and love for handball is stronger than ever, and they are traveling to the [Championships] with a positive and friendly attitude."

"Our ladies are looking forward to experiencing [the Open Championships] and being in a group with teams that they have never played before. The Women’s diverse team is excited to represent the DCD colors for three days of handball, fun, and new friendships.”

This season, DCD has had the privilege of being coached by Gert van Santen, a handball veteran in the U.S. “He has taught each one of us about the essentials of handball," 
said Men’s Team representative Brandon Kaminski, "reminding us that the game needs to be dynamic and fluid. He has made some risky calls and decisions for both the Men's and Women's 
Teams which have paid off tremendously. He also taught us to be hungry for a win yet 
humble on the court, and to go into the game with team play in mind." 

The club’s goals following York2015 include collaborating with the Montgomery County Public Schools High School Handball League and developing a progressive youth program in the D.C. area. In addition, the team is committed to helping create the U.S. Wheelchair National Handball Team, and in expanding the area college network, with a school in Maryland expected to begin play in the fall of 2015.

However, the focus at the moment is entirely on York. DCD is fully focused on making a strong impression from May 15-17 at the 2015 USATH Open Championships!

For more information about the D.C. Diplomats Team Handball Club, visit the Diplomats' websiteFacebook page, or contact them HERE.
You can also follow DCD on Twitter: @DCTeamHandball.