USA Team Handball is pleased to announce that both the Women’s and Men’s National Beach Handball teams went undefeated at the North American and Caribbean Beach Handball Championships in Trinidad and Tobago last month. Both teams wrote history at the inaugural competition, earning the Gold Medal. As first place finishers, both USA teams punched their tickets to the IHF Beach Handball World Championships in 2020 and the World Beach Games this October.
Qatar men’s beach handball team travelled to southern California, USA to take part in a series of matches and training sessions last month as both teams enter their preparations for upcoming championships.
The Asian side are currently preparing for the 2018 IHF Beach Handball World Championships which will take place in Kazan, Russia. They are one of the most successful men’s beach handball teams in recent years as current Asian title holders and third-place finishes at both the 2016 IHF Beach Handball World Championships in Hungary and the 2017 World Games in Poland highlight.
Relative global beach handball newcomers USA are also in a preparation phase as they look towards the 2018 Pan American Beach Handball Championships which will be held in the USA in March.
The training camp for Qatar and USA lasted from 23-30 November as the two teams went head-to-head together again for the first time since their July 2016 encounter in Hungary at the World Championship, which the Qataris won 2-0 (26:18, 26:17). It featured four joint training sessions and friendly matches as well as two exhibition matches in the beautiful surroundings of Hermosa Beach and in Oceanside, California – the location of the 2018 Pan American Beach Handball Championships.
Qatar's delegation was chaired by Khalifa Taiseer, Assistant Secretary General – QHA who was accompanied by 12 players and technical staff members.
“Beach Handball in Asia is improving every year,” said Sidali Kennaoui, defensive specialist of Qatar’s national beach handball men’s team to the Team USA website. “You can see teams like Vietnam, who two years ago lost their games by large margins, are now much closer in score.
“We have previously gone to camps in Brazil and Croatia, and having contact with these teams has allowed our level to be a bit higher than other teams [in Asia].”
“The USA (Men’s) Beach Handball Team have improved a lot in the past two years,” he continued. “We wanted to learn from (USA Beach Handball) and for them to learn from us as well.”
As part of the camp, the Qatar delegation also took in a variety of tourist sites and watched a NBA game.
“They are one of the teams we look up to and admire on the world stage,” said Michael Hinson, Head Coach of the USA team.
“Qatar play they game the right way – the beautiful way – and having them here was an amazing experience that will help us moving forward as a programme, and a team, as we prepare for the Pan American Championships.”
For the USA right wing, and specialist, Ebiye Udo-Udoma, the week was more than just about playing on the sand. “It’s great getting to spend time with each other outside of IHF competitions where we can cultivate friendships and learn from one another,” he said. “There’s a real brotherhood in beach handball and we’re all on the same team as far as building the sport to the Olympic platform and beyond.”
“We have good relations with the USA Beach Handball Federation and they invited us over for the preparation,” said Ibrahim AL-Shahooz, International Affairs & Communications, Qatar Handball Association (QHA). “It is all about promoting beach handball.”
Next spring, Oceanside will host the first Pan American Beach Handball Championships to be held on American soil. Leaders of the new sport and local hero and Olympian Willie Banks on Wednesday announced plans for the games, scheduled for March 6-11.
Bill Johnson has never been one to hesitate when presented with a new challenge or opportunity.
The free-spirited Kamiak High School graduate’s adventurous nature has taken him to exotic locations around the world. Johnson’s played professional basketball in such unlikely places as Costa Rica and Cape Verde. He’s spent the past two years coaching basketball teams comprised of nomads on the Tibetan plateau.
So if ever there was an individual who would crop up on the United States national team in a sport few have heard of and even fewer have ever witnessed, it’s Johnson.
Beach handball may be way down the pecking order when it comes to sports in the U.S., but in Johnson Snohomish County can boast of having one of the best players the country has ever produced.
The 30-year-old Johnson, who graduated from Kamiak in 2005, recently helped the U.S. take second place at a tournament held June 17-18 in La Seyne-sur-Mur, which is located on the Mediterranean Sea on France’s southern coast. He was the leading scorer for the U.S. team that was the shock gold medalist at the 2016 PATHF Pan American Beach Handball Championship in Venezuela, and he’s set to again play a key role at 2018 Pan American Championship next March in Los Angeles.
“He plays a real pivotal role on the team, not just with his athleticism but with his demeanor,” USA Beach Handball captain Bill Bigham said. “He brings a very genuine heart, he’s focused, and he’s a good glue guy to have.”
So how does an ex-basketball player who spends most of the year living in the small village of Zorge Ritoma in Tibet end up starring for the U.S. in a sport that takes place on a beach? Like much in Johnson’s life, it’s been a long and fascinating journey.
In his current visage, Johnson looks like he came straight from the beaches of Southern California. With a lanky 6-foot-8 frame and a flowing head of hair that includes a full beard, he looks as if he just stepped out of a Santa Monica surf shop.
But it was a far different setting where Johnson first encountered handball: Iceland.
“Iceland is really good at indoor handball, so when I was playing (professional basketball) out there the club handball team would always come on after us,” Johnson said last week during a brief trip back home. “They’d always say, ‘Come play a real man’s sport,’ because indoor handball is super physical.”
So when Johnson found himself back stateside late in 2014 and looking for another sport to play while taking a break from basketball, he went in search of handball, a sport that’s sort of a cross between basketball and soccer. That eventually led him to joining the USA Team Handball residency program in Alabama.
While the residency program didn’t lead to the U.S. achieving its international goals, it did expose Johnson to beach handball for the first time. Beach handball has a different style from indoor handball. Contact isn’t allowed on the beach, and the rules encourage a sense of flair as goals scored while performing a trick, such as doing a 360-degree spin or an alley-oop when throwing the ball into the goal, are worth two points instead of one.
“That was my first try at beach handball and it was fun,” Johnson said. “It stayed in the back of my mind because there were people saying I was more suited for that sport. I’m not super strong for indoor handball, but they said tall skinny guys were better for beach handball.”
It was around that time in June of 2015 that Johnson first traveled to Tibet. While in Tibet he heard about a USA Beach Handball team forming in Los Angeles, and when Johnson came back to the states for the winter he decided to try out. It turns out there wasn’t much competition for a roster spot.
“I went down to L.A. and tried out for the team — all 10 people in the U.S. who play beach handball were there,” Johnson said with a laugh. “They were preparing for the Pan American Beach Handball Championships at the end of March and I made the team. It was pretty much people from L.A. plus two of us who moved there for it.”
That was the first time the U.S. competed at that level, and the Americans arrived with a rag-tag team of players with differing sports backgrounds — Johnson played college basketball at MIT, Bigham was a quarterback at the University of North Carolina, while others came from sports like water polo and dodgeball.
But the U.S. ended up stunning even itself by winning the tournament. Johnson, who plays offense and was the team’s starting pivot, led the team in scoring with 57 points, ranking fourth overall.
“We shocked the beach handball world, what little there is of it,” Johnson said.
It’s not easy for Johnson to stay in beach handball shape at 10,000 feet.
Johnson still resides primarily in Tibet, working in e-commerce operations for Norlha Textiles and Norden Travel, while also coaching basketball in Zorge Ritoma. And the Tibetan plateau is a long ways from beach sand.
“There are certain sport-specific things I can work on,” said Johnson, who brings a beach handball with him to Tibet. “I work a lot on 360s and I have a wall out there and I just throw all the time. I get whoever I can, guys from the basketball team, to throw with me. It’s certainly not the same with sand, I’m still trying to figure out how to deal with that, but it’s enough to stay ready.”
Johnson’s job prevented him from playing at the 2016 World Championships last July in Hungary, when the U.S. finished 11th out of 12 teams. But he was able to join up with the team when it played in France in June as he flew in from Tibet, and he’s expecting to help the U.S. defend its Pan American title next March. Those games take place when Johnson is home for the winter, so he’ll be able to join up with the team during its preparations in the months leading up to the competition.
And the U.S. will be thrilled to have Johnson back.
“He’s very intelligent, he’s very focused,” Bigham said of Johnson. “Then just his previous athletic experience gives him a great overall sense of how to score, how to win, how to be a team player. His height and his ability to jump and hang in the air, combined with the accuracy of his shooting, make him a sensational pivot.”
“My passion will always be basketball, but it’s a really fun sport,” Johnson said. “For me personally it’s just interesting learning a new sport and all the challenges that come with it.”
And there’s nothing Johnson likes more than a new challenge.
If you have an idea for a community sports story, e-mail Nick Patterson at email@example.com.
Article Credit: teamhandballnews.org // Written by John Ryan
The Pan American Team Handball Federation (PATHF) met this past week in Argentina and the North American Zone was able to secure 3 major championships for 2017 and 2018. Link
Canada will host the Women’s Sr. Pan American Championships from June 15-26, 2017 in Edmonton, Alberta. Canada’s hosting of this tournament will be a major opportunity to showcase the sport’s growth in Alberta. The top 3 teams from this tournament will also punch tickets to the 2017 Women’s World Championships in Germany. (Commentary on Handball’s growth in Alberta: Link)
Greenland will get the opportunity to host its first major tournament when it hosts the Men’s Pan American Championships in 2018 in the nation’s capital, Nuuk. Air travel has always been an issue in the past with commercial flights to Greenland being expensive and only available via Denmark. The tournament will likely be played in June and the top 3 teams (or more pending 2017 WC results) will qualify for the 2019 Men’s World Championships that will be cohosted by Denmark and Germany.
Finally, the USA will host the 2018 Pan American Beach Handball Championships. The tournament will be staged in either Miami or Southern Californian in the March timeframe. Both Men’s and Women’s tournaments will be played with a TBD number of places to be awarded spots at the 2018 Championships in Sochi, Russia. The USA Men are the defending PATHF Champions.
Commentary: I’ve commented on more than one occasion about South American dominance in PATHF affairs. Canada was once denied participation in a PATHF Championship, despite having qualified for the previous WC (Link) and Greenland was even unceremoniously voted out of PATHF not to long ago: Link. A decade or so ago it was pretty bleak. Now 3 major tourneys all awarded to North America. Brazilians and Argentinians getting the opportunity to get a lot of frequent flier miles. No complaints from me. It’s time to sing Kumbaya around the PATHF Congress table!
Now we’ll see if the North American sides can take advantage of these opportunities to get some World Championships berth. In particular, it should be interesting to see how Greenland will fare with what surely will be a loud and boisterous crowd backing them.
Article Credit: Handball World News
It was an impressing goal scored by Ebiye Jeremy, a 720 - just enjoy the video at the end of the article. "The video of the 720 was actually the second time I did it that day", said Ebiye Jermey asked by handball-world.com about this goal and he added: "The first one was even better, but we unfortunately didn"t have any cameras around." In the interview Ebiye Jeremy gives three advices to others who want to try the shot and he talks about the Pan-Am Championships in Beachhandball and the development of this sport in the USA.
What are your aims for the Pan-Am Championships?
Ebiye Udo Udoma:
With anything you do in life you want to do your best, so we are going into Vargas aiming for the Gold Medal and a ticket to the World Championships in Hungary this summer. Our team motto is "Win the Play" and if we do that enough times the results will take care of themselves."
Who are the favorites for the title?
Brazil would probably be the favorites, but because they won the previous World Championship they don`t have to compete to qualify for the competition in Hungary and they have elected not to compete. I don`t know what the rankings of the other countries are, but I try not to get caught up in that hype and I keep my focus on doing my best regardless of the opponent.
How would you rate the overall level of performance at the Pan-Am Championships?
Ebiye Udo Udoma:
I`ll let you know in two weeks at the end of the tournament ...
How popular is Beach Handball in the USA?
Ebiye Udo Udoma:
Handball as a whole is relatively unknown in the US. We have had an indoor handball national team for decades, but we`ve only had marginal success and we don`t have many youth teams in the country. Our women`s beach team played for the 1st time in 2012 and our men`s team is playing its first international tournament next week at the Pan-American Championships in Venezuela.
We have generated a lot of buzz in the past several weeks with my 720 goal going viral and because we are currently training with the Brazilian Men`s National Team. If we place in the top 2 next week and qualify for Hungary I think there will be a strong increase in the popularity of the sport in the United States.
It`s a big goal of the IHF to make beach handball become an Olympic sport. Do you think that"s realistic?
Ebiye Udo Udoma:
That is a big part of what we are playing for in the US, to make beach handball a 2024 Olympic sport. We are hosting the inaugural World Beach Games in September of 2017 in San Diego, CA and we hope to show the Olympic committees that beach handball is a great attraction. In my, admittedly biased, opinion, beach handball embodies the Olympic spirit more than any other sport.
Beach handball is a spectacle which offers a unique combination of technical acumen and flair that rewards brain and brawn equally. It`s a sport that can be played and enjoyed at both young age and old age due to it`s low-impact nature, but it`s still a sport where top athletes continue to push the limits of what`s possible as an athlete.
In beach handball the spectators have as good of a time, if not a better time, than the players. And most importantly beach handball is a fair play sport where you and your opponents push one another to be your best self, which is what sport is ultimately about.
You did a 720 shoot-out goal. How many times you do this shot successful in your career? Do you have some tips to practice this shot?
Ebiye Udo Udoma:
The video of the 720 was actually the second time I did it that day. The first one was even better, but we unfortunately didn`t have any cameras around. My advice to others who want to try the shot:
A. Be warmed up. Have your teammates cheer you on as you go for it, the energy and excitement you have before the jump is as important as the jump itself.
B. Right before you jump you want to have your arms wide and away from your body so you can generate more rotational force. Once you are in the air you want to bring your arms to your chest as tight as you can like an Olympic figure skater does. You want to spot the goalkeeper after you do the first spin so you can decide how you want to shoot on the second spin. Most goalkeepers will already commit to their action expecting you just to do one spin, so a lob or chabala will be effective.
C. The most important tip for doing a 720...make sure you have a camera ready! As we say in America, "Pics or it didn`t happen"
Article Credit: Team USA // Written by Doug Williams
There were many times in recent months that Chay Lapin and his teammates had to stop practicing on Southern California’s Hermosa Beach to answer the same question, over and over:
“What the heck are you guys playing?”
The sport was team handball — an Olympic sport especially popular in northern Europe — but it was a modified beach version of the game played on a sand court. It’s a fast-paced, four-on-four game with non-stop action and running, leaping players firing shots at a goal with a ball slightly smaller than a volleyball.
Lapin, like most of his teammates, was learning the game on the fly for the USA Beach Handball Elite Men’s Team. The former UCLA water polo goaltender — who was on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team in London — was recruited to the team less than six months ago by his former Bruins teammate Jeff Smith.
The U.S. beach team handball program is in its infancy and Lapin, 29, is one of several athletes recruited from water polo and other sports to learn the game and help the United States get some exposure and success.
They accomplished one step in that mission the first week in April when the team survived a rocky start to win the Pan American Beach Handball Championship in Venezuela, defeating traditionally strong Uruguay in the final. The victory gives the U.S. team a berth in the 16-nation world championships in July in Budapest.
It was a surprising outcome to Lapin, considering he and his teammates are still learning all the rules and nuances of the game.
“To be honest, myself included, probably about half of us still don’t quite understand all the different rules,” Lapin said. “There were definitely times in games where a call was called and we literally had no idea what was going on.”
Lapin laughed about the experience, but it was a serious step up for the U.S. program, which defeated host Venezuela — one of the best teams in South America, where beach handball is a more established sport — before upsetting Uruguay.
Both victories came on shootouts. Under beach team handball rules, each match consists of two 10-minute periods. If one team wins both periods, it wins the match. If the teams split the periods a tie-breaking shootout period is played.
Chay Lapin, pictured here playing water polo, recently joined the U.S. beach handball team.
One of the reasons for Team USA’s success was Lapin, whose years of experience as an elite-level water polo goaltender, athleticism, 6-foot-5 size and approach helped shut down opponents.
“Chay was definitely the best goalkeeper in the Pan Am competition and was a big factor in our winning,” said U.S. coach Michael Hinson. On offense, Hinson said Jacob Garcia, a former member of the U.S. national junior team handball team, was the key playmaker.
Dennis Berkholtz, the director of USA Beach Handball, said Lapin was a difference-maker because of his calm demeanor and aggressive approach in goal. Berkholtz said Lapin often challenged shooters as they approached, cutting off shooting angles.
“He closes the mouth of the goal up by attacking the shooter as opposed to sitting back in the goal,” he said.
Plus, he said Lapin wasn’t rattled, even while allowing multiple goals in each period, because that’s the nature of the sport. It’s not like soccer or water polo where a goaltender only allows a few balls to get past each game. Team handball is high-scoring, with keepers defending goals approximately 10 feet wide by 6½-feet tall.
“You’ve got to hang in there and not be offended by the fact a couple of balls have gone by you,” Berkholtz said.
Since retiring from the U.S. water polo team in 2013, Lapin married and settled into a career working for a private-equity firm in Los Angeles. He decided to try the new sport as a way to get back into shape and be part of something new. He’s had to learn to use his feet to block shots — something that didn’t come into play in water polo — but his aggressive approach is something he brings from the pool.
When Lapin first watched video of top beach handball goalies, he noticed most didn’t try to jump out to cut off angles and stop shooters. He knew from experience that was the way he needed to play.
Plus, he said, his opponents weren’t used to that and were “caught off guard.”
Now Lapin is looking forward to the team’s trip to the world championships to see where the Americans stand. He said it’s been a fun transition into beach handball.
“The biggest change was just getting back into something, because for the last two or three years I’ve just been sitting at a desk for the majority (of time), so it’s actually fun to get back into something like this,” he said.
“It’s not at a super-high level yet, but I think it’s going to get there. We have the World Beach Games next year (in San Diego) that are going to be huge, a big platform. That’ll be a good boost for our sport.”
Doug Williams covered three Olympic Games for two Southern California newspapers and was the Olympic editor for the San Diego Union-Tribune. He has written for TeamUSA.org since 2011 as a freelance contributor on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Article Credit: Handball Planet
Last weekend, Vargar in Venezuela hosted “Panamerican” championship which was qualification for World championships, in senior male and female competition and as well in youth (U16).
Beside Brasilian national teams (female and male), which already have their “place” in the draw for WCh in Hungary (Budapest, 12-17.07.2016.) as World champions from previous WCh, Panamerican teams competed for 2 more spots.
After group stage, semifinale matches decided which teams’ “HUN visa request” was accepted. First surprise of competition in Venezuela was when USA team won against host team (2:1 (22:17; 14:24; 9:8)). Later, USA team shocked all with another victory over Uruguay (URU won in semifinal against ARG 2:0 (18:14; 20:12)) and won their first Beach Handball trophy: USA – URU 2:1 (14:12; 7:24; 9:6). This surprising victory of USA showed that Beach Handball give a lot of competitive options even for underdogs if we can call “underdog” team that made common preparation with powerful team of Brasil under the control of Brasilian national coach Antonio Guerra Peixe.
In female senior competition, Uruguay won “gold” in final against Argentina (result 2:0). Third is Paraguay and 4th Venezuela.
In youth competition, both titles won Venezuela. While in female competition VEN was followed by URU, Columbia and ARG, in male competition “silver” went to Ecuador and in “small final” Columbia won Argentina.
Article Credit: International Handball Federation
On the first day of Budapest 2016, IHF.info spoke with Leila Marchbanks, wife of Vince (Chad) Marchbanks after they recorded their first-ever beach handball world championship win in their first-ever game.
In that interview she said she loved her husband, and as IHF.info caught up with Vince after the tournament had finished for USA, he returned the feeling.
IHF.info: How are you feeling after beating Australia in your last game to finish 11th?
Vince Marchbanks: I’m very pumped, it’s raining so it’s hard to get too hot about it, but that last win felt very good. It’s been a long week; we had a lot of very close losses, but to get that win in the last game felt very good for us.
IHF.info: That win against Ukraine in your first-ever match, showed how far you have come as a tea, how good could you be?
Vince Marchbanks: Right now, I think we’re a top six team next time, but in beach handball any team can win and any team can lose. 90% of our games came down to the last shot, unlike in a shootout where it’s a toss-up.
We’ve only been playing together for six months, but with the skill that we have I think we are a top-six team and next time we come back we’re going to prove it, but it’s very tight.
IHF.info: What have you learnt as a team in Budapest?
Vince Marchbanks: We don’t have many teams in the USA; it’s just us, so when we’re practising we’re playing ourselves.
We don’t have many chances to play in competitions against other teams and players of our stature, so we came out here and it was our first time playing teams this good, besides the ones in the Pan American championships.
We lost a lot of games but in those games we learned that one mistake can mean the difference between winning and losing; just one dropped pass, one missed shot. It came down to those mistakes in all of our games so we learned to come together.
The weather in the final days brought our team together; we were out there having fun in the rain, splashing around in the puddles, and that brought us together in the last game to win.
IHF.info: How tough is it to play beach handball in the rain?
Vince Marchbanks: It is definitely a very intense sport, especially as an outdoor sport. There are elements you have to compensate for - a lot of beach handball is catching the ball in mid-air and you have a split-second to grab a ball.
If it’s raining the ball can slip out of your hands and there’s sand all over the ball so it’s very hard to grasp. When you’re playing outside people understand you’re playing against the elements as well as the other team, and as we learnt today it’s very hard to play in the rain.
IHF.info: Has there been one highlight for you at Budapest 2016:
Vince Marchbanks: There are no highlights for me; I have a very short-term memory. I just remember that we won. After any game I forget what happened and I keep going, I remember the mistakes I we made after a loss and we can keep going.
I don’t count points. It’s a team sport; coming together and playing like we do is what it’s all about. Me counting points is taking away from the team.
IHF.info: Was Budapest 2016 what you expected?
Vince Marchbanks: This tournament has been far beyond anything I could have imagined. The quality of players and teams here is amazing.
The thing that surprised me the most was how friendly the teams are - beach handball is like a family.
I’ve been playing dodgeball in the United States for a long time and a lot of tournaments you go to and play against other countries and they’re not so friendly, but here everyone is very friendly and that surprised me.
IHF.info: What do you hope your appearance and wins at the world championships mean for the future of beach handball in America?
Vince Marchbanks: Our team’s plan is to bring beach handball to the forefront in the United States as people don’t know about it.
I told my boss that I was going to Budapest to play beach handball and he had no idea what I was talking about.
The first step for us is to start beach handball leagues, get more people to come and play. We’ve got to get a women’s team together, we’ve four or five who are willing to play but we need more for a team.
We’ve got to get recognition in the United States and us making it to a world championship will help. We didn’t place where we wanted to - us placing in the top six would have helped - but just us being here it says a lot.
I have very high hopes that beach handball is going to take off in the States. People are going to love this sport like I love it, like my team loves it. Once they see the videos and the pictures of us playing, us travelling, they are going to want to play too.
IHF.info: Your wife and young family were here, how hard has it been with them in your preparation and all the sacrifices you have made?
Vince Marchbanks: I have my wife Leila, my son Jackson and my six-month baby Brandon in Budapest.
I gave a lot to the sport, and for me to give a lot I had to take a lot away from my family; we practised three times a week, so those three-hour practises every week Leila was taking care of the kids.
It reminds me when we went to Venezuela for the Pan Am Games and I was away from them for a whole week and it was very hard, my son was about three months old. It was so hard I said to coach I couldn’t go to Budapest without my family, I couldn’t do it.
It’s been a lot of sacrifice from my wife, I mean to be away from her when the kid is sick, it’s a lot. I put her through a lot but she’s so supportive and has been supporting me in coming here to Budapest and cheering for us. I love her so much.
Article Credit: International Handball Federation
Coach: Michael Hinson
Key Players: Chay Lapin (Goalkeeper), Bill Bigham (Defensive Specialist)
Road to Qualification: Winners – 2016 PATHF Pan American Beach Handball Championship
History in Tournament: 2016 is their debut appearance. (2004: DNQ, 2006: DNQ, 2008: DNQ, 2010: DNQ, 2012: DNQ, 2014: DNQ)
A momentous occasion for North America will occur at Budapest 2016 as the American men become the first-ever team from the region to appear at an IHF Beach Handball World Championship.
The USA are in Budapest 2016 thanks to winning the 2016 PATHF Pan American Beach Handball Championship held in Venezuela in late March/early April.
Brazil, the traditionally dominant side in the Americas, had already qualified for Budapest as current world champions and opted to concentrate on their preparation for Hungary and with it, opened up the possibility for other teams to grab a space.
But let this take nothing away from the Americans. After losing their opening group game 2-0 against Argentina, they beat Paraguay on a shootout. However, two consecutive losses, firstly against Uruguay, on a shootout, and then the hosts on another shootout left their world championship dream in pieces.
But as the famous saying goes, what does not kill you makes you stronger and the Americans, coached by Michael Hinson, had one last chance to make the semi-finals which they took, against Ecuador, winning 2-0 and this, combined with that early win against Paraguay saw them through to the final four.
Against the host nation again, the Americans went all the way and, this time, won their shootout against the Venezuelans. This result set up a final against Uruguay and after a 14-12 first period win, they collapsed in the second, losing 24-7. Despite this, the side from North America, with all their experience of shootouts, held their nerves to win 9-6 and take the continental honours in ecstatic scenes.
That experience will bode well for Budapest but facing the Americans in group A will be the Brazilian team, keen to assert their continental authority after losing their title, having won the previous five out of five editions of the Pan American championship.
USA Coach Michael Hinson has selected 14 of his 16 players from his club Los Angeles Team Handball Club, whilst the remaining two come from United.
One of the LA players, Chay Lapin, is goalkeeper for Team USA and his story is an interesting one. After winning gold at the 2012 Pan American Water Polo Championships he represented USA at the London 2012 Olympic Games where they finished in eighth place.
Hinson found Chay after searching the internet for former water polo goalkeepers under 35 years old, 6’5” minimum height, no longer competing at a high level in the game and living in the Los Angeles area. After identifying Chay, he contacted him through Facebook and extended an invitation to give beach handball a try.
“Chay was definitely the best goalkeeper in the Pan Am competition and was a big factor in winning gold,” said Hinson. “His water polo skills easily transitioned to the beach game and his experience and leadership helped our young team compete at a high level in a short period of time.”
Chay’s younger brother, Taylor, another former water polo goalkeeper, is also in the USA team for Budapest
“It’s extra special to play with my brother,” said Chay about Taylor. “Beach handball is a great sport, fun to play and a little faster than water polo but the philosophy is the same – they try to score, I try to stop them.
“I feel comfortable in the goal and play with a great bunch of highly competitive and dedicated athletes.”
Defensive specialist Bill Bigham is also a key player for USA. As former American Football quarterback, his throwing power is evident and has brought his indoor experience as a right-back and right-wing with the USA men’s national team and club teams onto the sand with clear positive results.