| Commissioning New Handball Alumni |
Major General William Rapp, USMA class of 1984, honored the team by conducting a commissioning ceremony after graduation on May 21. MG Rapp was the captain of Army Team Handball in 1983-1984 and coached the team from 1994 to 1996. Three of our newest graduates joined MG Rapp in his garden for a ceremony in which they took the oath of office and family members pinned Second Lieutenant bars on their new uniforms. Brand new lieutenants Rickey Royal, Jr., Cort Mukina, and Mike Darden took part. From left to right in the picture: Major Michael Tilton, '00, Cadet Jev Valles, '12, Cadet Eric Jones, '12, 2LT Rickey Royal, Jr., '11, 2LT Cort Mukina, '11, Cadet Kevin Rice, '12, 2LT Mike Darden, '11, Cadet Brenden Reber, '12, and MG William Rapp, '84. Worth noting: Brenden Reber is 6'9" and usually dwarfs the people on his flanks in group shots.
| Burrda Sport National Championships Firstie (now 2LT) Rickey Royal, Jr. led the way on both offense and defense as Army Black placed 4th in the Elite Division at the 2011 Burrda Sport USA Team Handball National Championships from May 13-15 in Salt Lake City. Army took full advantage of the opportunity of a Wild Card into the Elite Division. Right off the bat we beat Carolina Blue (alumni team) 24-22. We followed with a 3-goal win against Boston, who was our biggest rival this year. After a loss to Denver, we knocked defending champion LA Team Handball out of the running with a physical 6-goal win. |
The semi-final game was an infuriating 28-27 loss to Chicago Inter. We were in control the entire second-half. Two penalties in the final 5 minutes resulted in a 3-goal swing and us missing the championship game by the slimmest of margins.
In the Bronze Medal Game, we lost yet another physical struggle against Boston. The picture of Brendan Reber above was typical of the entire tournament. We seemed to always be playing Boston and always in physical contact with the opponent. After the tournament, some of us took in some of the local sights, including visits to Park City and the Olympic bobsled run, as well as a visit to Antelope Island State Park which is home to over 500 buffalo. Only 6 days short of graduation, Cort Mukina, '11, thought it would be a good idea to see how close he could get to some of the beasts. After such a physical weekend of play, he must have thought himself invincible and convinced his trusted wingman Jared Mullane, '12 to join him. They would have gone closer had their coach not called out to them and told them to stop. I did snap this picture for them and felt the need to share it.
| 2011 Team Awards |
We awarded three awards this year. The most important of them is the James J. Thome Sr. Leadership Award, which Team Captain Rickey Royal, Jr. earned for outstanding leadership and sportsmanship. The first recipient on this award was Frank Wendt in 2000. All previous winners of the award can be found on our website. Rickey (shown scoring on a break against Boston in Utah) also won the Captain Henry Mershon Spengler III Memorial Award, which is awarded each year to the Outstanding Graduating Handball Player. Information on the remarkable Captain Spengler can be found here. Cort Mukina, '11, earned the USAA Spirit Award for selfless spirit to the team. In several tournaments this year, Cort was charged with player-coaching the Gold team when I could only be on one bench at a time. He led the Gold Team all the way to the second place finish at Collegiate Nationals in April. He was able to bring together a group of inexperienced players and lead them to big wins over UNC and Air Force at Collegiate Nationals and the West Point Invitational. Cort also made an impact on Black during the California Cup and as a defensive specialist at the Club National Championships in Utah.
| Coach K Award to Adam Hodges|
For the third time in the five years that the award has existed, a member of Army Team Handball won the Mike Krzyzewski Teaching Character Through Sport Award. Last season's Head Coach and Officer-in-Charge, Major Adam Hodges (shown here in his signature shirt and tie) earned this very prestigious award this year for his efforts reinstating Team Handball as an Intramural Sport. Adam was unable to receive the award in person because he has already moved to Fort Hood and is currently deployed to Afghanistan. Adam is in good company receiving the award: among other winners in 2011 was Army Football Coach Rich Ellerson. In 2010 Jack Gibson won the award for Competitive Club Athletes and in 2008 John Harmeling won the award as a handball club athlete.
| Team Farewell |
On April 29th, the team had a farewell cookout for the six graduating Firsties. It was a chilly evening in New Brick housing area, but the team enjoyed the chance to socialize and say farewell to (now 2LTs) Marc Beaudoin, Adam Moore, Rickey Royal, Cort Mukina, Tim Wagner, and Mike Darden. We presented each of them with a team guidon representing their leadership of the club. Cadet First Captain Marc Beaudoin (pictured) also confirmed that he did, indeed, own those shorts.