By Scott Prater
In the notice, Cannello learned that the U.S. Olympic Training Center would provide personnel to help local installations plan and execute Olympic Day celebrations and activities.
The deal seemed too easy to pass up. As a result, Schriever will celebrate Olympic Day June 21, with a team handball demonstration and competition beginning at 9 a.m. at the fitness center.
“We’ve hosted Olympic-style events here, but nothing like this,” Cannello said. “This is going to be both a fun and educational event for kids and adults here on base.”
Olympic Day is a celebration for youth around the world to observe the Olympic values of fair play, perseverance, respect and sportsmanship.
Three-time Olympian, Cynthia Stinger, will kick off the day’s events by demonstrating the sport of team handball to Schriever School-Age Program students.
“We’ll have a ceremony with a torch and we’ll talk about the Olympic mission, which seeks to advance a more peaceful world through sport,” said Stinger, who competed for the U.S. handball team in the 1984, 1988 and 1992 Olympiads in Los Angeles, Seoul and Barcelona respectively.
Team handball has floundered in the U.S. since the early ‘90s, but Stinger, who now manages the U.S. Olympians Association, is helping to enliven the sport.
“We have a womens’ team that is attempting to qualify for the Pan Am Games right now, so I think we’re getting back on track,” she said. “We have the best athletes in the world and there isn’t any reason why we can’t get back on the international stage in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games. That’s one reason I’ve wanted to do demonstrations and show my support.”
Not to be confused with “handball,” a sport similar to racquet ball, “team handball” resembles more of a sport like basketball or soccer, where players from each team try to score by throwing a ball into a goal. Team handball is played in a gymnasium with a goal on each end. Players run, dribble and pass to advance the ball and teams are comprised of six players plus a goalkeeper.
Stinger and her fellow demonstrators will cover the basics, along with a bit of strategy and teamwork lessons. Then, the students will split up into equal size groups and play team handball in a somewhat unstructured format.
“We’ll adjust rules and adapt to the size of the group so we can provide the most fun for the students,” Stinger said.
Adults get their chance to participate later in the day.
Cannello wanted to showcase the sport to a mass audience, so he’s in the process of setting up a multi-match competition, following the youth demonstration.
Stinger is bringing a group of experienced team handball players along to help demonstrate and compete against teams made up of Schriever’s best athletes. Her team will include a few Olympians along with some Olympic hopefuls and possibly a couple of U.S. Air Force Academy cadets.
“I’m hoping to get a team of colonels together to take on the Olympic team first,” Cannello said. “After that match up, we’re also hoping to make up a team of some our best athletes and throw them at the Olympians. We’re hoping we can get a big crowd in the gym to watch the competition.”
Stinger said the event will run until people simply get tired of playing. Contact the fitness center at 567-6628 for more information.