Monday, October 29, 2012

More Photos from the Tournament



This goal was brought to you by mrfloor.com.





Sunday, October 28, 2012

Crime Scene Photos

This clash of the titans was much better than the movie.

Naughty, naughty; thou must not grab thy opponents shorts.
Just assume he scored, because he always does.
Yes, he is wearing a cast.

The goal crease can be a lonely place.


























Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Curse of the Goat Brains

Chicago is a town that embraces superstition. There is something deeply suspected here, like the fact that a goat's curse or it's embodiment, some well-meaning kid in head phones, are actually to blame for their beloved Cubs' woes. I grew up here and know this city.

So it was in this spirit, having just defeated our arch nemesis, Chicago (albeit the lesser Chicago, but you have to start somewhere), we mocked and laughed, chiding one of our teammates for choosing for himself a shady Korean joint over Subway or even a somewhat more reliable pizza place that reeked of urinal cakes. And by shady I mean it was a place that didn't even bother to translate the menu, so certain were they no American fool (or, in this case, a German one) would step off the curb and stumble into the place.

Well, that fool was our own Stephan Storch. Apparently, he walked up to the counter, pointed a finger at some block of unintelligible shapes, and took a chance he might strike culinary gold. What he got looked like seven derivations of goat brains, some of which were so foul smelling we wouldn't let him eat it near us.

As teammates are want and apt to do, we teased and harangued, and told him he'd cursed us with his damned foulness, the gray puddles of brain. And then we took to the court against arguably the best team in the tournament, the 12-time national champion New York Athletic Club, and laid a stinker of a half to start the game, only scoring one goal. One stupid, lousy, pathetic goal. It was mortifying to look at that board at halftime, the curse so apparent in that single mark we managed to muster despite our best efforts to lay a big-fat-goose-egg.

The curse was fleeting, thankfully, and we fought goal-for-goal throughout the second half, scoring 13 despite the fact that we were undersized, undermanned, and overwhelmed by a team of current and former MNTers whose bench was as big as our team.

My hate of losing is legendary, and although I feel like putting a fist through a wall for our play, I am proud of my guys, who didn't give up, who didn't give in to what was a most public embarrassment. And this is what makes our game great. This is what makes handball special. It takes strength, speed, and wit, cunning and not a little subterfuge. It is a puzzle that requires you to overcome your own inadequacies and deficiencies in real time in order for you to win, or at least retain some semblance of self-esteem.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Today is Handball Eve

There are only a select few days each year so impressive and important that they give meaning and title to the one that precedes it. Actually, I can think of only one other, and it too has something to do with a fat guy with a beard. With the opening games of the Michael Lipov Memorial Cup in Chicago, tomorrow is such a day, which makes today Handball Eve. I can barely contain my excitement right now. Tomorrow, I get to score goals and block shots. Tomorrow, I get to run, jump, and grapple. Tomorrow, I get to scrum with MNTers Jordan Fithian and Divine Jackson. Tomorrow, I get to war with our nemeses from Chicago. Tomorrow, I get to play the greatest sport in the world. Tomorrow, I get to set out in the middle of the night and drive from Minneapolis to Chicago. Well, not everything about tomorrow can be spectacular, just like not everything at Christmas can be wonderful, look no further than the drunk and distant relative lapping eggnog straight from the bowl (or is this a vague premonition of the handball social Saturday night?).

The first game of the tournament is at 1 PM (Chicago Standard Time). The hosts in black take on our guests from abroad. I have no idea what to expect from this team that calls itself Legion. They might be professionals, or they might be hacks. Judging from their top seeding, I would venture a guess in the direction of the former. In the second game, the hosts in yellow take on me and my boys from Minnesota. I have played and lost enough one goal games against Chicago to be on the referees "must watch" list. (Good thing they have short attention spans and will likely abandon the reading of this post somewhere in the middle of the first paragraph.) It will be a hard fought game, and one that both teams will play with fattened chips on their shoulders.

The rest of the games don't involve Minnesota or Chicago, so I couldn't care less. Actually, I am going to be back sometime tonight to talk about each of them in greater detail. As I type, I am parsing the rosters, divining acts both great and insignificant. I just have to get the clothes washed and the car packed and the kids polished for mom this weekend, because tomorrow we travel. Merry Handball Eve!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

We are American Handball


http://www.chicagointerhandball.com/
So it is official: I am the blogger-of-choice of tournament organizers. What does this mean for you? It means you have to suffer through my witticisms and insights all week and next weekend. I know what you're thinking: Love it! Actually, I will do my best to keep you updated on all the action, especially the behind the scenes stuff you can't get from your couch or your phone in Podunk, America.

During the tournament, I will be conducting interviews with relevant players and prominent leaders. I will be asking everyone this one important question (among many): How can we make American handball relevant? Naysayers shush. I've heard enough of your doubts and had it with your pessimism. It is the most important question we can be asking each other at this present moment. We have a new GM, and we have a new Olympic cycle. This is our new beginning. It is time for us to get busy building this great sport, because this is my handball. And this is your handball. This is our handball.

We are American handball.

The Michael Lipov Memorial Cup MMXII:

Chicago Inter plays host to this annual tournament, and it is without doubt the best tournament of the year (well, besides nationals), and I don't make this claim lightly. We put on only the best tournaments in the Midwest Region, and this tournament is no different. It is well run. It is well stocked. It is going to be a hard hitting weekend of American handball, hosted in the middle of the great conglomeration of urban sprawl known affectionately as Chicago. The site: Northeastern Illinois University. The dates: October 26-28. The times: See below. 

The Breakdown:

For the men, there are ten teams, and there are two groups. I should give them snappy names like the Big 10 overlords gave their divisions, but then nobody would know which was which. So we shall begin with the basics, and here they are:

Group A (or Group 1, or Group I, as in roman numerals):
Legion XXI
Chicago Inter Black
West Point Black
Air Force
Illinois State University

Group B (or Group 2, or Group II, as in, well, you get it):
New York City Team Handball
New York Athletic Club
West Point Gold
Minnesota Team Handball
Chicago Inter Yellow

The Ladies:
Chicago Inter
West Point
Carolina

I know what you're thinking: Where's the love? Actually, I am quite excited to be taking on the best clubs in the country, as NYCTHC and NYAC are the elite and open champions respectively. If you can't play the best, why play at all? These games are going to be fast. These games are going to be dynamic. These games are going to be rough. I hope tournament organizers have rented an extra ice machine and brought extra plastic bags, because I ran out of both at nationals sometime on day two. And I can't imagine with these teams taking the court against each other that things would turn out any different.

If you are in the area of Northeastern Illinois University this Friday, you should come check out these games:

Friday, October 26 (Court 1): 
1:00 - Legion XXI vs. Inter Black (Group A)
2:00 - Minnesota vs. Inter Yellow (Group B)
3:00 - Inter vs. Army (Women)
4:15 - NYAC vs. WP Gold (Group B)
5:15 - Legion XXI vs. ISU (Group A)
6:15 - NYC vs. Inter Yellow (Group B)
7:15 - Minnesota vs. NYAC (Group B)
8:15 - ISU vs. WP Black (Group A)
9:15 - NYC vs. WP Gold (Group B)

Friday, October 26 (Court 2):
5:00 - West Point Black vs. Air Force (Group A)
6:00 - Inter vs. Carolina (Women)
7:10 - Inter Black vs. Air Force (Group A)

Here is the link to the official tournament site: http://www.chicagointerhandball.com/










































Saturday, October 20, 2012

Minnesota Team Handball in Chicago's Michael Lipov Memorial Tournament

Minnesota Team Handball puts a wrap on preparations this Monday, as the team prepares to travel to Chicago for the Michael Lipov Memorial Cup on Thursday. I will blog all weekend from the tournament (reliably, I hope, as I will not be pulling triple duty as blogger, player and event director like I did at last May's National Championships). This is going to be a glorious brawl, so be sure to check back here for all the gory details.

2012 Minnesota Team Handball
Some of the best teams from across the country will be traveling to Chicago for the annual tournament.

For the men, there will be two Chicagos (as always, even when they run one team); there will be elite national champions, New York City, and open national champions, New York Athletic Club; there will be a team from Russian/Ukraine, they call themselves Legion; there will be the young bucks from West Point, with both the gold and black squads coming to town; there will be Air Force; there will be the recently formed club from Illinois State University (give Ross credit for getting anyone to travel on the weekend of the biggest party on campus); and, of course, there will be Minnesota Team Handball.

For the women, there will be Chicago, still smarting from their championship loss to Alberta in May, and having just punished the competition last week in Carolina; there will West Point, these girls got game; and there will be Carolina, another bedrock American club.

Minnesota Team Handball fields a strong team, with backs Wilder Freed, Stephan Storch, and Jared Mullane. The wings include junior national team player Tyler Shukert and Josh Hetterick. I will be manning the six-meter line, looking for trouble. And in goal, we will bring the Icelandic beast, Gisli Kristofersson.

It has been a wonderful new season for our club, as we have benefited from the Olympic hype, welcoming dozens of new players to the Minnesota Team Handball family. It is with renewed vigor and passion that we take to the court, and the road to next May's championships starts in Chicago. Stay tuned.


Friday, May 18, 2012

2012 - USA Team Handball Club National Championships (The Week - Day Five)

A Guide to Day One of Action:
Alright, so yesterday was a total bust, if you consider 12 hours of hard labor setting up the venue for the greatest sport imaginable a waste of time. I am speaking, of course, about the blog, which was supposed to have all sorts of cool doings around town. Well, sorry. My time got short and fast, and your going to have stumble through Dinky Town and Uptown and downtown on your own.

Today is a new day, because today is game day. This day is my favorite day of the week, and lucky for me, this week has three of them. There will be genius and celebration. There will be injuries and defeats. Someone will shock. Someone will dismay. Someone will get a red card and learn they owe their team some cash. Everyone will play. Everyone will fight. Everyone will leave sore and abused. Today is the best of days, because today there will be handball.

I will be updating this page throughout the day with wins and losses, group standings, and scoring leaders. So check back from time to time, if you want to know how everyone is doing, or if you want to get an early start on travel plans home, because after today, you will have a good idea when that will be.


Day One Elite Schedule:
8AM: Chicago Inter vs. NYC THC 2 (Court 1); NYC THC vs. Carolina Blue (Court 2)
11:30AM: Boston vs. LA THC 2 (Court 1); LA THC vs. WP Black (Court 2)
3PM: WP Black vs. NYC THC (Court 1); LA THC 2 vs. Chicago Inter (Court 2)
6:30PM: NYC THC 2 vs. Boston (Court 1); Carolina Blue vs. LA THC (Court 2)


Day One Open Schedule
9:30AM: Denver HC vs. Cary-Grove (Court 1); Georgia HC vs. Minnesota TH (Court 2)
10:30AM: Seattle vs. Ohio (Court 2); Dynamo vs. Texas A & M (Court 3)
1PM:  Cary-Grove vs. WP Gold (Court 2)
2PM: Texas A&M vs NYAC (Court 1); CalHeat vs. Seattle (Court 3)
4:30PM: WP Gold vs. Denver HC (Court 1)
5:30PM: Minnesota TH vs. Georgia HC (Court 2); NYAC vs. Dynamo (Court 3)
6:30PM: Ohio vs. CalHeat (Court 3)

Day One Women's Schedule:
9:30AM: NYC THC vs. Winnipeg Fury (Court 3)
10:30AM: Alberta vs. WP Black (Court 1)
11:30AM: Saskatchewan vs. Boston HC (Court 3)
1PM: Dynamo vs. Alberta 2 (Court 1); Smurfs vs. NYC THC (Court 3)
2PM: WP Black vs. Chicago Inter (Court 2)
3PM: Boston HC vs. Carolina (Court 3)
4:30PM: Winnipeg Fury vs. Smurfs (Court 2); Alberta 2 vs. Dynamo (Court 3)
5:30PM: Chicago Inter vs. Alberta (Court 1)
8PM: Carolina vs. Saskatchewan (Court 2)