The (Squeaky) Sound And The Fury: Meet The Team Handball Club
If the walls of south gym in Rec Hall could talk, they might only know the language of shoes squeaking against the court floor. Usually host to volleyball or basketball, the gym was filled by the Penn State Team Handball Club’s tournament this past week.
Team handball is played on a 20-by-40 yard court and incorporates six players and one goalie per team. Players can dribble and run with the ball, similar in design to a volleyball, and toss it into the opposing player’s goal. “I always call it soccer with your hands,” says Team Handball Club president, Bennett Samuel. Unlike many team members, Samuel has been playing sports his entire life, and played competitively in high school alongside lacrosse, football, and basketball at Penn Charter. “A lot of us could have played Division III sports,” the president said.
While the entire team is comprised of athletic students, almost all of them are new to the sport. Both Samuel and vice president Ty Turner joined during their first year in college. Chris Antkowiak, for instance, was introduced to the sport in a PSU Abington kinesiology class. “We played every day and learned the basics of it and I got really into it,” he said.
Penn State played New York City’s Handball Club in the second game of the tournament. At first glance, the away team looked like a group of soccer dads, ready to hand out orange slices at halftime to their tired kids. The all-men’s team featured older players, who seemingly could easily be taken down by a group of 20-year-old college students. Samuel’s scouting report disagreed with that notion, though. “They’ve all been playing a lot longer than we have, and they are much more experienced,” he said.
The college newbies played a close game against the away side, with both sides trading scores at a rapid pace. “The closer it gets the more physical it gets,” Samuel said, and he was not kidding. While defending the goal, Samuel absentmindedly tackled a member of the opposing team. The referee immediately penalized him, at which point Samuel realized what he had done and apologized. “I’ve been playing football since I was six, my bad,” he said.
Penn State was in the lead for the majority of the game, but the away team creeped up, scoring two points in the final quarter. Those scores would be the difference in a 17-15 defeat, but put up a valiant effort. After the loss, Samuel remained positive. “We played well, but would have liked to have seen better results,” he said.
If joining a club of well-rounded, competitive athletes sounds enticing, the team is always looking for new members. “It’s a fun sport to learn and a good group of guys,” Samuel said. The club meets in 126 White Building at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and 10:30 p.m. Wednesdays.
Photo: Alex Bauer/Onward State