USHA elections: 1 returnee, 2 newcomers: Nett is back, new members are Simon and Hogan--here are their campaign statements.
The last six years I have spent on the USHA board of directors have passed quickly and have been a learning experience. I have certainly enjoyed working with other individuals dedicated to promoting The Perfect Game, and ensuring our sport's health has been very rewarding.
In seeking a third term, I feel that I have learned the workings of the board and am able to better facilitate solutions to challenges the USHA faces. The most important is to continue efforts to attract new members. Our membership has been dwindling, and our tournaments are populated with mostly older players. These trends are something we must continue to try to reverse.
Areas that are amenable to year-round outdoor handball seem to be doing a better job of attracting and retaining players than areas where indoor handball is the major form of the sport. As an organization, it is important that we endorse all forms of the sport--four-wall, three-wall and one-wall. By far the least expensive form is one-wall. This seems to be an excellent way to attract new players with minimal cost. New York has done an excellent job of promoting this, and it is time for the board to try to expand that effort to other parts of the country. This may well be the primary source of future three-wall and four-wall players.
An earlier study commissioned by the USHA indicated that college students were the best demographic to target as potential recruits for handball. They are much less likely than high school students to be involved in an organized sport, leaving them in a position to try new activities. The USHA should promote a concerted effort to introduce handball to as many college students as possible. Given that most universities have dropped physical education requirements, this effort will need to be done by promoting and hosting clinics.
Jamie Simon, Mt. Prospect, III., Central
I am confident that I can continue to bring the same commitment, passion and vision that my friend and outgoing board member Steve Johnson has for so many years.
My career in handball extends 30 years, and I have been involved in every aspect of the game, from playing to organizing and being an officer in my home state. Growing up and spending my life in suburban Chicago brought me many opportunities to be involved in the game. Chicago is not only the handball hub of the Midwest but one of the great handball regions in the country.
At 10, I joined the youth program at the Lattof YMCA, headed by Don Quinlan. I can't think of a better role model and mentor for an impressionable young man. So many things I saw in Don and learned from him have been instrumental in many stages of my handball life. As a member of the program, I won my first national title at 13.
I attended and played handball at Southwest Missouri State University. I was fortunate to have another outstanding coach and role model in Tommy Burnett.
After returning home, I continued to play in tournaments and leagues while beginning my next step. As the years went on, my passion and interest grew, and I wanted to promote and grow the sport any way I could.
I took over as tournament director for the Illinois state four-wall singles and doubles. The entries for both tournaments began to grow almost immediately as I marketed these tournaments like the Illinois Handball Association had never done.
I was named vice chairman/executive director of the IHA in 2010. In the last seven years, our membership has grown each year. I have implemented marketing programs, a new website and other technological advances to promote our cause and ease communication with members.
Denis Hogan, Cincinnati, Mid-America
I learned to play handball at the Y in Cincinnati. In 1987, there was a 3-X-5 card on the board by the courts: "If you want to learn to play handball, call Ralph."
That was Ralph Weil, national age-group champion and longtime player, and that led to a 30-year friendship and an introduction to the greatest group of friends and competitors I could have imagined.
Handball has given me friendships, wonderful adversaries on the court, strength and a continuing challenge to improve myself, and it has contributed to my health and flexibility of body and mind.
After playing the game for 20 years, I was invited to join the Greater Cincinnati Handball Association board of directors. I have enjoyed that privilege for six years, the last three as president. During that time we have hosted two National Juniors Three-Wall Championships and two National Masters Championships.
For the last three years, I have also been a board member of the Ohio Handball Association.
From these local and state positions, I have had exposure to and worked with the USHA. I believe I would be a positive contributor at the national level. I look forward to helping to maintain and improve the game and continuing to introduce it to new generations of players.
Is Handball your passion, too? Consider joining the many good people throughout the country who volunteer.
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