Monday, March 17, 2014

A Man's World

                I’ve never been much of an athlete or at least haven’t been because I never stick with anything for too long.  I’ve played soccer and done swim team.  I’ve also been in cheerleading in high school, but nothing compares to the enjoyment I gain from playing handball.  For those of you scratching your heads right now wondering what the heck that is, I’ll tell you that it’s similar to racquetball in that you play on a court usually enclosed by four walls.  There are many different kinds of handball though and those include four wall, three wall, one wall, singles, and doubles.  You can combine singles and doubles with any of the court types, but I much prefer to play singles on a four wall court.  Without going in to too much detail, I will say that three wall hand ball is a great way to fine tune certain skills that are not completely necessary in four wall, but are extremely helpful.  Unfortunately, Missoula only has four wall courts (besides a one wall court which as the name describes only requires a wall)…
                So why I am I giving you a mini lesson on handball? Well, about four years ago a group of students, myself included, went on a short Ireland study abroad.  I made friends with a “man” (so weird to call my friends man or woman) who knew how to play handball (an Irish sport originally) and taught a couple of friends and I when we returned to Montana.  We were all thrilled to participate and although it required a lot of hand-eye coordination followed by thousands of failed attempts, we persevered.  Now, the other two girls and the friend who taught us have moved away and I am the only one who remains.  I had taken a break, not willingly, but because after graduation from the University of Montana, I no longer had a gym membership with a facility that had courts.  Well, as most of you who have been reading know, I recently joined the Peak Health and Wellness Club and they have courts! Six of them to be precise, and most of the Missoula handball players go there to play. 
The best part about this sport is that an eighty year old can still play a twenty year old and win.  It’s not necessarily a “muscle” sport but requires strategy, patience, and a lot of practice.  Most of the men who play are of an older generation and are trying to pass on their knowledge and skill set to a younger generation so that the sport doesn’t disappear completely.  It’s an amazing feeling to be a part of a new generation learning a sport that has so much history and a wonderful community of players to support us.  I might also mention that I am currently the only woman in Missoula (that I know of) who plays.  Women are scarce among the ranks of handball players (besides those in Ireland who are badass) and I have only met a handful (mainly pros) who play.  We need to step up in this man’s world and show them what we’re made of.  Once upon a time, women weren’t even allowed in the clubs where the men would go to play and now I have played with a male partner against other males.  All I can say is that I feel empowered to show them what I can do and to one day completely blow their minds!
Unfortunately, it’s going to take a lot of practice and training, but I now feel the motivation to complete all that work.  After losing all of our doubles matches in the Montana State Doubles Handball Tournament, we have nowhere to go but up, and believe me; I’m reaching for the stars on this one!

Get out there and try something new! You may surprise yourself at how much you enjoy whatever that may be.

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