We all have our favorite handball tournaments that we try to attend year-in and year-out. As a player for over 50 years I have been to some great tourneys all over the country and have many pleasant memories. We tend to remember the tourneys where we did well and to not remember those where we were humbled early-on by a first round loss or a gut-wrenching 11-10 tiebreaker loss in a semi or a final match. Selective recall helps heal busted handball egos.

Winning a national tourney always is embedded in memory and revisited many times over in that part of the brain that stores such memories. For many of us that part of the brain's memory bank is conspicuously vacant. Yet we press on because in the mind of the dedicated handballer hope springs eternal. In my case the one problem is that I'm 70 years old and "eternity" is taking on a new meaning.

   The Durango Sports Club enjoys picturesque blue skies 95% of the year
        Players can relax around the pool between matches

I have two tourneys that are on the top of my "favorites" list. One of them is the US Marine Corps "Semper Fi" in beautiful San Diego, CA held each year over Memorial Day weekend at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot. For organization, venue, level of competition, comraderie and hospitality it is hard to beat. It draws me back every year since I first played in 1997. At another time I'll write more about that fine tournament.            

The tournament I have attended most and that has the warmest place in my handball heart is the annual "High Country Classic" at the Durango Sports Club in Durango, Colorado. Many handball players are familiar with Durango because for years the Durango Sports Club hosted the annual Pete Tyson/John Bike Summer Handball Camp. Last year Pete called it quits but John Bike teamed up with David Chapman to keep the camp alive. The High Country Classic has been held for 32 years at the Durango Sports Club most often co-inciding with the handball camp. In the past that allowed "campers" to play in the tourney in addition to attending the camp. Over the years hundreds (thousands) of players have passed through Durango for the camp and/or the tourney.


If you have been to Durango for these events I am preaching to the choir. If not, pay heed, because you might want to put it on your "To Do" list. The small city of Durango nestled in the mountains of Southwest Colorado at 6,500+ feet of altitude is a gem. It offers outdoor activities galore like river rafting, kayaking, hiking, trekking, golf, running, road & mountain-biking, fishing, just to name a few. It also has a world famous narrow gauge railroad that runs from Durango to Silverton Colorado and features some of the most beautiful scenery in the Rocky Mountains. The city of Durango has oodles of restaurants, bars, breweries, entertainment attractions, shops and Victorian style homes. My loving spouse has significantly enhanced the local economy over the 30+ years we have visited there. It has a great Main Street and is an ideal place for strolling or just sitting down and watching the throngs of people that flock to this place every year. It is also a great place for a family vacation in conjunction with a handball tourney.

The Durango Sports Club has a great handball history and, for an added plus, it is owned and operated by an avid handball player, David (Ragin Cajun) Farmer. Over its 32 year tournament history many of the game's top players have competed  and vacationed there. The Club has an outdoor pool and Bar-B-Que area that hosts the tournament's Saturday evening meal and "confessional" period. The hospitality is superb and many players, like me, come back year after year for the fun and friendship. In 2009 I attended the handball camp. I wish I had done it 40 years ago. They say you can not teach an old dog new tricks but from what I practiced and observed at the Camp there were a lot of lessons to be learned by this old dog. 

The 33rd Annual High Country Classic is set for July 29-31, 2011.  See the USHA web site for further info and a link to the entry form. Hope to see you there. Be prepared to have a fun time, lots of good handball, and a natural "Rocky Mountain High". Whether it is the 1st or the 31st time you'll enjoy it.  It's well worth the trip.

Contact Gateway Durango at 1-800-8284228 for reservations assistance. Do a visual tour of the Durango Sports Club at

And, to answer the question, does the ball bounce higher or quicker at altitude??? Some days it does and some it doesn't! Come to Durango and put it to the test.

Dave Coulie