A Michigander in Colorado

Article submitted by Dave Dodds, August 11, 2007

I love handball. I also love Colorado.  So, what could be more natural than to arrange to go to Colorado for a week-long handball fest lasting from July 27’th. to Aug. 3’rd.? The fest took place in Durango at the Durango Sports Club and began with the High Country Tournament. The tournament was followed at the same location by the 33’rd. annual week-long Bike/Tyson Handball Camp. 

The tournament had about 45 individuals entered, with the 60+ category having the largest number of single entries - a sober reminder that the present population of handball players is aging and we must continue to recruit more younger players. The 60+ category is my own and having lost in the first round to Dave Coulie from Albuquerque I can go home rationalizing that at  least I was beaten by the guy who took first place. That way, my early loss can be blamed on poor seeding rather than poor playing. Sobriety ended after the day’s play with food and beer on the pool deck at the Club. The next day I managed a first place win in the C category - an event that has been described ad-nauseam back here in Michigan. 

At the tournament I again met Bruce Stein who plays at Grand Junction. Bruce, Rusty Ludwig and others graciously welcomed me at the Basque Court in Grand Junction a month earlier when I was traveling Colorado as a tourist with two grandsons. That was my first exposure to team handball and it was a ball.

My first impression of playing in Colorado was: “man the air is thin up here”. Initially, it was difficult to play a hard rally without gasping  and it took a full week before I could comfortably play successive rallies.

The handball camp followed the tournament. Each day started with a series of lectures and ended with time in the court. For me, the best parts were playing under the eye of a pro and getting instant feedback on things done right and things done wrong. The lectures covered most aspects of the game: serving, defense, offense, strategies and shot anticipation. In many cases I thought “yep, I knew that”- or at least I had a vague notion about that. Hearing it enunciated by a pro though really drives home the point. Another great aspect of the camp is the ability to play endless pickup games with the other campers. Exposure to many different styles and abilities in such a short span of time was a learning experience in itself. Seeing a video of myself playing John Bike and another camper was also another great learning experience (I really look like that when I play?). 

Another blast was the Calcutta Tournament where about thirty players including John Bike were given handicaps and entered into a playoff. John not only had to play with a minus six handicap he had to play with physical handicaps - such as playing only with his off hand and playing while carrying a 4-foot inflated shark. He often wins these types of contests but this time he didn’t. I didn’t win either but felt good about making the semi-finals. I was in the money so-to speak. 

The Calcutta Tournament was the finale to a great week. The owner and president of the Durango Sports Club, Dave Farmer, and the staff there at the club made sure that we had everything we needed and that everything ran smoothly. Overall, a great time at a great facility with great people in Colorado - my favorite place.