Thursday, 29 April 2010
Soccer With Hands
Dear Reader, what do you think is the second most popular sport in the world—after soccer? A few hints—it uses a ball that can be dribbled but cannot be held for more than three seconds without motion, has a team of seven players (including a goalie), can be played indoors or outdoors on a court measuring 20 x 40 meters, and was invented in northern Europe in the late 19th Century. You may not know the answer to this Jeopardy-type question, because the sport is not as popular in the United States as it is in the rest of the world, but West Point just won the Men’s National Collegiate Championship at Myrtle Beach, SC, on 23-25 April 2010, over the second best collegiate team in the country—also from West Point. The winning team was mostly Class of 2010 and 2011, while the second place team was primarily Yearlings and Plebes. Can you say “Dynasty?”
West Point Black beat West Point Gold in the finals, 30-25. The Carolina men took third place by beating Texas A & M, 34-14. In the semifinals, Black beat Carolina, 34-29, while Gold beat Texas A & M, 34-15. CDT Tim Wagner of Gold was the Most Valuable Goalie, while CDT Jack Gibson, also of Gold, was Most Valuable Player. The West Point Black Team consisted of Right Wings Marc Beaudoin & Greg Durso; Right Backs Rickey Royal (IR) & Greg Ayers; Center Back Adam Moore; Left Backs Thomas Giordano & Patrick Saxby; Left Wings Preston Pham & Tim Flynn; Circles Jason Borchik & Mike Darden, and Goalies Dexter Wise & Kristian Schott. Playing on the Gold Team were Right Wing Kevin Rice; Right Backs Mark Conard & Craig Champlin; Center Backs Jack Gibson & Richard Bullis; Left Back Jared Mullane; Left Wings Jev Valles & Ian Emory; Circles Brendan Reber & Bob Allibone; and Goalie Tim Wagner. Preston Pham, Jason Borchik and Thomas Giordano have been selected by USA Team Handball to join the World Class Athlete Program to play and prepare for Pan American and Olympic Games qualification.
In the women’s competition, the results were a bit reversed, with the Carolina women defeating West Point Black for the title, 15-12, while West Point Gold took third, defeating another Carolina team, the Tar Heels, 9-7. CDT Maria Kong of West Point Black was Most Valuable Goalie, while CDT Audrey Moton, also of Black, was Most Valuable Player. Congratulations to them all.
So what about this new (to most Americans) sport of team handball? Prepare for a quick primer. First and foremost, it is nothing like handball as we think of it, where the ball is struck with the hands to bounce off a wall. There are no walls in team handball. It has been described as a combination of soccer (but with hands), basketball, ice hockey (without the ice) and water polo (without the water). Above the youth level, a game consists of two 30-minute halves with a running clock and a 10-minute break at the half. Each team also is allowed a single one-minute time out per half, but substitutions may be made at any time, similar to ice hockey. Like basketball, the ball may be dribbled, but three steps are permitted without dribbling. Holding the ball for more than three seconds without moving, dribbling, passing or shooting is not allowed, so the action is fast and furious. Since a player may only touch the top half of the ball while dribbling, there is no NBA-type palming of the ball allowed, and no player but the goalie may touch the ball with the lower leg or foot.
There is a six-meter radius around the two by three meter goal that only the goalie may occupy, except when a player temporarily enters after releasing the ball in an attempt to score. Directly in front of the goal is the seven-meter line. Any time a scoring attempt is illegally stopped by an opposing player, a spectator or an official anywhere on the court, a player is allowed another attempt, one-on-one with the goalie, from this line, and the goalie must stay three meters from the shooter. A dotted line nine meters around the goal is the free- throw line. Whenever the game is interrupted by the officials, it starts again at the point of interruption but no closer to the goal than the free-throw line. Like soccer, egregious conduct may result in a player receiving a yellow card (warning) or a red card (exclusion). An excluded player may be replaced after two minutes, but an assault on another player means that the offending player’s team continues the game without a replacement. Games may end in ties, except in tournaments, when two five-minute overtime periods are permitted.
Once again, congratulations to all of our West Point teams for taking two of the top three places in both men’s and women’s team handball at the National Collegiate Championships. So if you want to see some exciting, fast paced action that combines elements of several sports, check out a team handball game near you. Thanks to MAJ Adam Hodges, DPE, head coach for team information and rules verification.
Your humble servant, J. Phoenix, Esquire.
Please forward guest articles, comments and suggestions for future topics to JPhoenix@wpaog.org
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