Handball is a popular sport in Europe, but in the United States, it is rarely seen or spoke of.
There were 12 teams in both the men and women’s bracket in the 2012 Summer Olympic games, but the U.S. was not participating on either side. Before last semester, club handball did not exist at Penn State, either.
However, freshman Rob Pellecchia and a few of his friends wanted to change that.
“I saw [handball] being played in the Summer Olympics, and I thought it was a cool sport,” said Pellecchia, the Penn State handball club president. “When I came here I assumed they would have a club, but they didn’t so we took it upon ourselves to start it up.”
Not everyone knew all of the rules when the club was first created, but a couple members said everyone is picking it up as they go. In handball, each team must have six players and a goalie on the floor at all times. Players can advance the ball by passing, dribbling or shooting. There is a circle around the goal, called the crease, in which only the defending goalkeeper is allowed.
The team has struggled to find the necessary equipment to play handball, but it has made due with what is available. The team practices on the White Building basketball court, which is not regulation size.
Club members use the three-point line as a crease, which also, is not regulation. The biggest difference what they have been forced to use instead of handball nets.
“We don’t have any nets yet, so we use the volleyball poles,” Pellecchia said. “It is much harder, but it’s pretty good practice.”
Despite not having all the necessary equipment to play regulation handball, the players still said they have a fun time when playing.
“No one takes it too seriously to the point where people get upset,” Vice President Brandon Goss said. “We’re really just out there to have fun.”
In no way does that mean that the players are not out there to win, though.
“It is relaxed to the point where we can have fun, but we still play very competitively and really get into it,” Pellecchia said.
Next year, the team plans to attempt to travel to play other schools in collegiate tournaments around the region. There are only 63 official collegiate handball teams in the country, but that number has grown each of the last few years, and several cities across the nation host tournaments.
But before the club travels, it still wants some new members to bolster the overall strength of the team.
The club has 15 official members right now, but said it is getting new members each week and still looking for more. Goss said the club gets about two new members every week.
“Honestly, the more the merrier,” Pellecchia added.