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Date: 2/10/2019

While 2019 may already be in its second month, USA Team Handball (USATH) recently released a 2018 review, headed up by their CEO, Michael Cavanaugh and also gave an update to their 10-Year Strategic Plan.


“To say it has been a very busy year for USATH, would be an understatement,” said Cavanaugh in the report, which looked at their activity in relation to the IHF, developments within the North American and Caribbean zone, involvement with the US Olympic Committee and the activities of their men’s and women’s national teams in beach and indoor handball.


10-Year Strategic Plan

USATH released an update this week to their 10-Year Strategic Plan, released in August.


Cavanaugh confirmed that USATH are recruiting for new positions as well as redefining roles for their current staff, all of which will start this week with the search for a business-oriented Executive Director.


In addition, as they strategically look towards the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, the importance of talent-identification and the implementation of a talent development pipeline has resulted in a USATH College and University Club Expansion Initiative, aimed at increasing the number of team handball programmes playing in the college club sport system. Talent-identification tryout camps are also planned, aimed at increasing the pool of athletes, the first of which will be on 16 February in Freemont, California and Columbus, Ohio. 


Another key feature of the strategic plan was to promote handball to American sports fans through television broadcasts, and the 2019 IHF Men's World Championship saw a strategic link to one of the USA’s biggest broadcasters.


“We were thrilled to have the opportunity to view the main round games on television in America through NBC's Olympic Channel,” said Cavanaugh. “This has been a desire for our organisation for many years and we are happy to announce now that the 2019 IHF Women's World Championships will be broadcast on NBC's Olympic Channel in December.


“It was great to see the live broadcast of the bronze and gold medal matches, rounding out the week of incredible matches,” he added. “Anyone viewing the handball for the first time was treated to a thrilling finish between France and Germany in the bronze match, while Denmark overpowered Norway in the final – this was all thanks to a great deal of behind-the-scenes work (from USATH).”


Strengthening national teams, spreading the game

The report also discussed the increased competitiveness of national teams in relation to the placement of them in major international competitions such as Olympic Games, World Championships and Pan American Games and which resulted in USATH receiving funding from the United States’ Olympic Committee (USOC) Sports Performance Group (SPG).


Both the USA men’s and women’s senior teams had training camps in and out of the country, as well as adding new players – all with the goal of beating Canada in the Pan American Games play-offs, which they did. The report also looked at the USA-hosted IHF Trophy in West Dundee, which saw both the USA men’s junior and youth teams competing, with the junior team winning gold and moving on to the continental stage. Further training camps are planned in 2019 during upcoming IHF international weeks.


On sand there was a reflection on the hosting of the Pan American Beach Handball Championships and subsequent qualification and performance from both the men’s and women’s teams at the 2018 IHF Men’s and Women’s Beach Handball World Championships in Kazan, Russia.


In addition to the main topics, there was also sections on:

- Looking ahead to the 2021 World Beach Games in San Diego

- Review of the 2018 College National Championships at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York

- Review of the 2018 USA Open Beach Handball Championships, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

- SafeSport compliance, including medical training and background checks

- Update on the USATH Board

- Launch of an Annual Fund and Giving Campaign to support the financial needs of USATH


“No one person was mentioned by name in the report,” concluded Cavanaugh. “This is due to the fact that we are made up of so many dedicated volunteers contributing to our beloved sport that when you start to mention a few by name, you invariably leave many deserving folks out.


“So, a sincere thanks to all of the coaches, club leaders, referees, Committee Chairs and committee members, Board,  sanctioned event organisers, and their family and friends who allow them the freedom to devote time and energy and resources to USA Team Handball. 


“We must also recognise the continuing support of the USA Team Handball Foundation, particularly for their ongoing financial assistance provided to our national team programmes.”


Looking forward to 2019, the North East Team Handball League continues with its regular match days, and then the try-outs in February, this will be followed by the 2019 Collegiate National Championships, hosted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 26-28 April and then the US Open National Championships taking place from 23-26 May in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.


To follow USA Team Handball, visit their website, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.