Cinch Smith took a familiar route to find a place in college baseball. The 6’1” right-handed pitcher was a standout at his high school in Chandler, Arizona before finding a place in the rotation at McGill University in Canada.
Like thousands of other college athletes his age, Cinch Smith will have a solid college career and develop much more than his arm while competing at such a high level. But, following his last inning at McGill, the opportunities to keep competing as young athlete start to dwindle.
That is why Cinch submitted videos to USA Team Handball earlier this week on GMTM. With raw athleticism and intelligence, paired with a strong arm he’s been developing since he was a kid, Smith is confident he can take his athletic career in a new direction.
And Team USA is confident Smith, and hundreds of other college athletes like him, can, too.
In the United States, handball isn't exactly the number one choice for youth sports. Although the sport is as fast-paced and fun as anything else, young athletes still opt to play football, basketball, or volleyball. Handball, on the other hand, has been more of a game you play for a few days each school year in PE.
But as athletes of all ages still dream of playing their sport at the highest level, their most realistic opportunity to do that might come through handball. College scholarships are rare, while more intramural handball clubs are popping up at schools across the nation.
USA Team Handball, the nation's governing body for the sport, has been thinking ahead. Knowing so many of their Olympic athletes came from other sports over the past two decades, Team USA is working to make it easier than ever for college-aged athletes to get started in the sport, regardless of experience.
Through their virtual event on GMTM, USA Team Handball offers an open tryout for motivated athletes interested in playing a new sport.
In this online event, athletes are invited to submit videos to different activities USA Team Handball coaches have created specifically for new athletes. Each activity outlines different skills handballers need to develop, many of which are similar to other sports. For instance:
- Can you throw a ball harder and faster than the rest of your class? Then, you would make an excellent handballer - specifically an attacker.
- Do you have the fanciest footwork on your football team? Then, show Team USA how you could dice up a handball defense.
- Have the longest wingspan on your volleyball or basketball team? Sounds like you could be America’s next great handball goalie.
Regardless of the skills you've been mastering throughout your childhood and high school career, many attributes translate well to the handball court. Athletes just like you are taking advantage of the opportunity to be seen by Olympic coaches.
You can participate in the free online showcase from anywhere using your phone or tablet. Athletes from across the country have already started participating.
Read more about the event: How To Participate In USA Team Handball’s Collegiate Athlete Network
As submissions keep rolling in from Olympian hopefuls like Cinch Smith, it is easy to see just how unique each athlete is. And how different each of their stories are.
Let's take a look at some of the unique backgrounds of the athletes participating in the Collegiate Handball Network on GMTM:
Athletes With No Prior Handball Experience
The awesome part about USA Team Handball’s Collegiate Handball event is that they invite participants who have never played the sport to give it a try. Paris Johnson, a former football player and wrestler from Spring, Texas put his name in front of Team USA coaches despite only seeing the sport on TV. Johnson is an excellent example of an athlete who pairs experience from other sports with a drive to continue competing.
While many of us will not be able to continue our careers playing our favorite sport at the college level, this handball event offers an easy way to start playing something new at the highest possible level.
For current or future college students, USA Team Handball is focused on helping interested athletes find club teams in their area. There are hundreds of colleges and universities sponsoring competitive handball on the intramural level and getting started after competing in high school sports can help you develop and find more opportunities.
If you want to find a club handball team to play on, introduce yourself and get connected here.
Athletes Who Played Handball In Gym Class
Few athletes in America are able to play organized handball before entering college. Although the sport has a low barrier of entry and is a popular non-contact sport, most of us only play a few times in our childhood, usually in our elementary school gym class. But, physical education class can be a formative time for young athletes.
A few high school athletes, connected with USA Handball coaches despite only playing the sport in gym class.One currently plays Tennis and Softball at her high school and can certainly leverage those skills if she pursues Handball at the club level.
Another High School athlete played handball in gym class, but also has experience practicing with a club handball team. Swim team, basketball and volleyball are the activities she excels in at her high school in Florida. Three sports that will certainly offer her a leg up on other athletes pursuing handball from her area.
A few college-aged athletes are also participating in the USA Handball event, including Ashley Sparrow. Before attending college, Sparrow had only played handball in gym class but experience as a Varsity basketball and soccer player could certainly help her find an opportunity to play at the club level.
If you’ve only played handball once or twice, or only seen it on TV, experience in other sports can translate well if you’re interested in trying a new sport. If you want to stay competitive after high school or college sports, this online event is a great way to find new opportunities with other athletes your age.