Air Force is All In for the 2015 Open Division Title
By: Andrew Donlin and the United States Air Force Academy THC

The United States Air Force Academy’s Team Handball Club has had a great deal of success during the 2014-2015 season in preparation for the 2015 USA Team Handball (USATH) Open Championships in York, Pa.


US Air Force Academy after winning the 2015 Falcon Cup

In preparation for York, the Club has traveled throughout the country more than ever in order to participate in tournaments and play matches against quality teams. The Club scrimmaged the USATH Residency Program athletes at Auburn University last Fall, placed second at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Classic, placed fifth at the 2015 USATH College National Championships, and won our hosted tournaments; the 2015 Falcon Cup and the 2014 Colorado Cup.

During the last weekend of April, the Club won the Minneapolis Spring Classic, which included a hard-fought win over Chicago Inter, who will be participating in the Elite Division in the 2015 USATH Open Championships.

However, success is not something new to our Club. Founded in the mid-1970’s, the Falcons have produced many talented handball players who have represented the United States in international competition. Four Academy team handball alumni have represented the U.S. in the Summer Olympics. Six have played on Team USA in the Pan American Games (with three players winning gold medals in 1987).

Our Club is led by Mike Cavanaugh (pictured, left), CEO of USATH. He has coached the Falcons for the last 16 years and has led the team to its most successful stretch. Since 1999, Air Force Academy has won a medal in the College National Championships nine times, winning first place in 2002. Before coming to USAFA, Coach Cavanaugh played (1973-76) and coached (1978-80) the US National Team.

During the 2014 Open Nationals Championships, the Club won the bronze medal in the Open Division. This included wins over traditional Elite Division teams San Francisco CalHeat THC and Los Angeles THC 2. During this tournament, the Club was led by Open Division MVP Sean Cahill (now graduated) and division Top Scorer Drew Donlin.

The Club is working hard with hopes of an Open Division gold medal in 2015. Despite balancing heavy academic and time-consuming military demands, the Club practices three nights a week. While the Club will traditionally travel fifteen players to tournaments, the size of the Club has increased dramatically over the last few years. We currently have approximately thirty club members who practice with us every week.

The Club is excited and ready to go for Nationals in York, Pa. The following players are the leaders of the Club:

C1C Drew Donlin is the Club Captain. He was selected as an alternate for the U.S. Men's National Team in 2014, and he hopes to continue his handball career after graduating from the Academy. We have lost count of how many times Drew has been leading scorer in a tournament. After graduation, Drew will continue his Air Force career at Los Angeles AFB (rough life!).

“Some people say I shoot too much. That’s what they get for passing me the ball.” - Donlin

C1C Mitch Dobson is the starting Right Back for the Club. He is also the Cadet-In-Charge of the Club and handles many administrative responsibilities. Mitch will be attending pilot training at Columbus AFB in Mississippi after graduation.

“The biggest issue with the Club this year is that our Freshman do a poor job of recording all my assists while keeping stats.” - Dobson

C1C Jarod Washington is the Club’s starting goalie. He has been a member of the Club’s traveling roster for four years. He will be attending pilot training at Laughlin AFB in Del Rio, Texas after graduation.

“I play my best between noon and five. You don’t know what you’re getting outside of that window” - Washington

C1C Ryan Tucker is a starting wing for the Club. Despite Coach’s comments, the picture below shows that “Tuck” is quite the athlete. Ryan will continue his Air Force career in Cape Canaveral, Fla. at Patrick AFB.

“Don’t ask me what I put in my Gatorade bottle” - Tucker

C3C Pete Murray has had an interesting year with the Club. He is our starting circle, but he has somehow screwed up every responsibility that the Club has given him. Here’s to hope that Pete will get it figured out one day!

“I like sleeping with stick-um on my fingers the night before games, so my hands are ready to go on gameday” - Murray
 
Lightheartedness aside, the United States Air Force Academy Team Handball Club is a brotherhood. We are a team full of individuals who will do anything for each other, and this is the legacy that Coach and all team members are proud of.

We look forward to seeing you all in York!

"All In!"

For more information about the U.S. Air Force Academy Team Handball Club, visit their websiteFacebook page, or email club captain Andrew Donlin at at C15Andrew.Donlin@usafa.edu