The Minnesota State University, Mankato handball team hosted the 2020 Maverick Open to give players the opportunity to compete and advance to the 68th USHA National Collegiate Handball Championship, which will be hosted at the University of Texas at Austin from Feb. 19-23.
Many people are unaware of what handball is and this is common. Handball is a sport where players, either two or four, hit a miniature rubber ball against the wall that is to the front and both sides of them, but must hit the front wall at some point. Once the first player hits the ball, the opponent can allow the ball to drop only once before hitting it back to the wall.
The server will stand in front of their opponent to serve, but once this happens either player can move around the court to hit the ball. This will continue until one player reaches to typically 21 points, but if there is a tie of 20, many players will decide to play until 25 points. The game of handball will demand and increase skill in hand-eye coordination, balance and speed.
Coach Michael Wells, a professor in the Computer Information Science department, started the MSU handball program back in 2008 with only four players—two boys and two girls. His father used to play the sport and, after many years, Wells decided to bring the sport back into his life. Throughout the width of time, Wells continued to inform students about the sport and create a bigger team consisting of all skill levels. Wells also said that one doesn’t need experience in handball to be good at it, they just need to give the time and dedication to learn the sport. Throughout the team’s history, they have won over five championships and made runner-up at least three times as well.
The 2019-20 team consists of 19 players of all ages and experience. In the tournament this past weekend, there were five teams who competed against each other in order to move onto the nationals. In the women’s open singles, Maverick Maddie Kennedy climbed to the top and won the tournament championship and will later compete in the USHA National Collegiate Handball Championship. Another team that will compete in Texas includes the women’s open doubles duo Ciana Ni Churraoin and Kennedy. The players will travel down with their teammates and family to cheer them on and hopefully bring back more hardware.
Header photo: A game of handball being played during the 2020 Maverick Open tournament in Pennington Hall Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020 in Mankato, Minn. (Mansoor Ahmad/MSU Reporter)