High school handball on the rise in west Edmonton

Handball

The Rebels senior men's handball team faces the Titans junior men's handball team at Jasper Place high school on March 22, 2012.

By Tyler Loutan

EDMONTON — Handball may not be the most well known sport in Edmonton, but Jasper Place High School is seeing a growth in the sport’s popularity as the Rebels men’s handball team heads towards the playoffs as the season winds down.

“We have a lot of first-time players who are interested in the sport,” said Rebels coach Cole Morin. “[Handball] has really taken off in the past three years in this school.”

Morin describes the sport as a combination of soccer and water polo. The same concepts of positioning, running, attacking and defending from soccer are all implemented in the sport, except players use hands to throw the ball instead of feet to kick.

“Our players usually play on other school teams like basketball, volleyball, football and water polo,” said Morin. “A lot of the skills learned in those sports transfer over into handball very well.”

Skills are not the only element that can be shared between other school sports and handball. The teamwork and sportsmanship between players transfer over too.

“We work well together, we get along easily and have a great team chemistry,” said Jerrid Archutick, a member of the Rebels handball, basketball and volleyball teams. “We kind of know each other through the other sports, but we also get to meet new people as well.”

Handball is one of the youngest sports in Edmonton high school athletics, with only a decade of history. This is the Rebels’ ninth season in handball and it has grown in popularity amongst athletes with each year, but it sometimes takes a back seat to other sports.

“In our seventh game of the season we had guys play for the first time because basketball just wrapped up,” said Morin. “The sport may not get enough credit, but it’s been growing and the players want to learn more.”

Morin is a Jasper Place high school graduate of 2009 and a former handball player for the Rebels. He remained a part of the program, moving into a coaching position after graduating, but still plays in leagues outside of high school.

“I try to get some of the guys to join the year-round teams so they can play beside me and learn hands on,” Morin said.

The players have been receptive to learning as much as they can about the sport by watching YouTube videos of the professional teams around the world and practising two times a week.

“It’s just really freaking fun,” said Arran Chambers, Rebels handball, basketball and volleyball player. “It’s very fast-paced and it’s just fun to throw balls at people.”

The Rebels have two games left in the season, both games at home on April 10 when they take on Queen Elizabeth and J. Percy Page.

The Rebels currently have five wins and three losses on the season, placing them in fourth out of 11 teams. The top eight teams will go on to the playoffs.

The playoffs begin on April 16, with the winning team heading to the provincials in Calgary on April 27.