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Delmar's finest ballers

Five town residents place at Canadian National Handball Championships

Delmar residents, from left, Jack Bossung, John Bossung, Kyle Bossung and George DeGonzague all placed in the top four of their age divisions at the Canadian National Handball Championships in May.

Delmar residents, from left, Jack Bossung, John Bossung, Kyle Bossung and George DeGonzague all placed in the top four of their age divisions at the Canadian National Handball Championships in May. Photo by Rob Jonas.

— "It's hard to go and brag about losing to a guy who's 70 years old," said Jack Bossung. "It's a good learning experience, though."

Handball isn't a sport for the faint of heart. It's like racquetball or squash in that competitors hit a small rubber ball off a wall in an attempt to get the opponent to miss. However, there is no racquet to cushion the impact of the ball. Players can only use their hands, and with the ball sometimes traveling as fast as 80 mph, timing is everything in order to prevent injuries.

"The hardest thing I had to learn early on was how to hit the ball without hurting my hands," said John Bossung. "The ball was a lot different back then than it is today. It was smaller and harder."

Players also must learn to hit the ball with their off hand, meaning a natural right-handed person must also be able to use his left hand effectively in making shots.

DeGonzague took a unique approach to train himself in using his off hand. "I would eat left handed to teach myself to think the other way," he said.

The hands aren't the only body parts that are impacted by the sport. Competitors who play tournaments on a regular basis also have to contend with sore shoulders and aching legs.

"You have to be in very good shape," said DeGonzague. "I've played up to four matches in a day (at tournaments), and I can play a match an hour after my previous match without any repercussions."

Sometimes, the injuries can be serious. Bobo said he's torn his Achilles tendon, torn his meniscus and separated a shoulder playing handball.

"Especially if you play a lot of tournaments, it's pretty hard to escape unscathed," said Bobo.

Still, the injuries haven't deterred Bobo from playing well into his 60s -- a span of more than four decades.

"The good news is somewhere along the line, they put in age divisions (at tournaments)," said Bobo. "So, that allowed a number of people to remain involved."

Kyle and Jack Bossung said they intend on making handball a lifelong sport, too.

"I think we'll definitely be able to play well into the future," said Kyle. "The big thing is (having) time and facilities."

"It's still got to be fun (to play)," added Jack.

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