By Chris Hernandez
Team handball recently joined the list of club sports offered at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
Team handball, or European handball, is not to be confused with American handball in which players hit a rubber ball against a wall with their hands. Team handball has been around since 1896 and is a unique sport that incorporates running, jumping and passing. It is played within a 40-meter indoor court.
Coach Dominique Dumont is an alumna of Palm Beach Atlantic University. She is now the Eastern Regional Director for USA Team Handball, an organization that is licensed by the U.S. Olympic Committee to run and develop the sport in the country.
Dumont’s vision for PBA’s handball team started last year.
“Living up the street from PBA and being an alumna, it made sense for me to come knock on the door and see if we can get something started here,” she said. “When you develop a project, you always start in your backyard.”
Unfortunately for Dumont, by the time she held her free clinics for handball, students were stressing about exams. The project slowly dwindled.
Not one to give up, Dumont came back this year with a new tactic.
“This time around, I ran a video for about a month, there, at the front desk,” Dumont said. “And all of a sudden, I got a dozen guys who are very, very keen.”
With a group of “keen” guys in place, a question arose: How was Dumont going to shape a team for collegiate nationals in a month when none of the people on her team had played handball before?
“It’s a challenge,” Dumont said.“Out of the teams that are going, some of them are experienced. We have army teams that have been around for a while and UNC. But the thing is you have got to start somewhere.”
And “somewhere” for Dumont starts with the basics.
“You didn’t step on the court until you had the basics. And that’s how I am training these guys,” Dumont said.
Corey Walker, a sophomore at PBA and member of the newly formed team, is optimistic about collegiate nationals.
“College nationals was a scary thought at first, but there are a bunch of starter teams,” Walker said. “It will be scary to play teams like Westpoint and Penn State who have had teams for 40 years, but we are progressing really fast and have a lot of potential.”
Freshman Jordan Wulz shares Walker’s feelings about nationals and believes the experience will be great for PBA’s athletic department.
“Nationals will help expand our athletic department’s vision,” Wulz said. “We got a team together in a month and a half for a sport that is not very recognized nationally. It shows the power of determination and the open-mindedness of the students.”
With high hopes going into nationals, Dumont is excited for the future of handball at PBA.
“I think after the guys make a presence at collegiate nationals and it spreads around campus that there is a handball program started, I think [there will be] double the guys, a girls team and that hopefully the school itself will allow handball to be a part of intramurals or an official sport with recognition from the school,” Dumont said.
The team will attend Nationals April 23-24 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.