USA Team Handball IHF Pan Am Handball

In May of 2015, USA Team Handball officially decided to start an international beach handball program under the direction of former Olympic USA Team Handball player and coach Dennis Burkholtz. On the day the program was announced, former USA National Team player for indoor handball Mike Hinson, approached Dennis about starting a program and coaching a team based out of Southern California. Coach Hinson, having played beach handball for 14 years, knew about beach handball and believed the United States could put together a team that could compete at the highest level pretty quickly. In September of 2015 ,USA Team Handball announced MIke Hinson as the first coach of the USA Men Beach Handball Team. Based out of Hermosa Beach California, Coach Hinson began recruiting athletes from all different athletic backgrounds. He brought in a former 2012 Olympic goalie from USA Water Polo. He brought in a Dodgeball World Champion, several current and former USA Team Handball players, a former Division 1 Quarterback, a former division 1 Basketball Center and a current collegiate Lacrosse player, among others. Most had never played the sport before but he chose them all for a specific reason. In January of 2016 training for the 2016 Pan American Championships began. Coach Hinson and the players had three months to learn the game and come together as a team. In March of 2016 the USA Men went down to Venezuela in their first ever competition of any kind. Top 2 teams from the tournament would advance to the World Championships. The tournament featured several high level programs with years of experienced players. Starting the tournament off 1-3 they were in a must win against Ecuador to advance to the medal round. This is where the US team was truly born. The defense held Ecuador scoreless for the first 6 minutes of the match and defeated them in two sets. Next they faced the undefeated #1 seed and host country Venezuela who was ranked #7 in the world in the semi-finals. Splitting the sets 1-1, the US won on the last shot in shootout to advance to the gold medal game. Facing defending Pan American Championship Silver medalists Uruguay they once again split sets 1-1 and again won on the last shot in shootout to claim the Gold Medal.

By winning the Pan American Championships, the USA team qualified into the 12 team field of the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Being their first World Championships the international expectations were not high for any success. In the first game of the tournament, the USA Team shocked the international handball world by defeating the #5 team in the world, Ukraine in straight sets. Needing one more win in the next 4 games to qualify into the top 6, USA fell just short against defending World Champion Brazil, lost a close game against defending bronze medalist Qatar, then lost 2 extremely tight shootouts against Egypt and Bahrain. Finishing out of the medal rounds, USA then lost a close shootout to Oman and finished the tournament with a emotional win against Australia in the rain.

After earning the attention and respect of the international handball community, the instantaneous success of USA Beach Handball has changed the outlook of the sport throughout the world. Countries from Asia, South America, Africa and Central America now believe that countries can compete and win against the historically strongest teams in the world. The International Handball Federation (IHF) has now made it a priority to develop the sport. The IHF has replaced the indoor sport of team handball with beach handball in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games hosted in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The United States was awarded and will host the 2018 Pan American Championships in Oceanside, CA. The Olympic Committees from across the world have seen the success of beach sports and beach handball in particular and have made beach handball a priority sports in the first ever World Beach Games which was awarded to and will take place in San Diego, USA in 2019. With a new found energy given the growth of the sport in the United States, Mobile Alabama was awarded the largest Olympic style event outside of the Olympic Games in the World Games which will once again feature beach handball in 2021. Countries from around the world are supporting the sport in the United States with top programs from Brazil and Qatar coming to play with the USA team in 2017 and 2018. The success of the USA Beach Handball Team has ignited a worldwide movement for the growth of the sport with a concentration of world class events in the United States over the next 3 years. The potential for the USA Beach Handball team is enormous and only continues to grow as the sport explodes worldwide!