DAPHNE, Ala. – With her second annual American Open Beach Handball Championship (AOBHC) on the horizon in nearby Gulf Shores, Ala., United States Sports Academy National Faculty member Dede Piankova was only happy to stop by the university’s Eastern Shore campus April 8 and share some thoughts on the sport and the event she first organized a year ago to bring more attention to it.
As the guest of moderator Dr. Arthur Ogden on the Academy’s Sports Talk show, which can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/user/USSportsAcademy, Piankova discussed her involvement with beach handball, a marriage that has seen her willingly and tirelessly promote and develop the sport. Since 2012 alone, she has coached the USA Women’s Beach Handball team to a fifth-place finish at the Pan-American Championships, organized the first International Handball Federation (IHF) Beach Handball Masters Course for Coaches and Referees, become the first-ever IHF technical official from North America and participated as one at the World Games, and, of course, put together the aforementioned event that once again hits Alabama’s Gulf Coast April 24-25.
“The main reason for it is to give a chance for world-class players and teams to come together,” said Piankova. “We have youth, women’s and men’s divisions, and when, say, the youth division is playing, that would give some of the elite players at the adult levels a chance to serve as officials and learn more about the game that way.”
Prior to taping, Piankova made sure to visit with Academy President and CEO Dr. Thomas Rosandich, the former President of USA Team Handball who first introduced her to Mr. Grant Brown, the Director of Recreation and Cultural Affairs for Gulf Shores. With that connection, Brown’s vision and Piankova’s drive, along with the support of Gulf Shores Mayor Mr. Robert Craft, the AOBHC was born, and not just off the beaten path, but right in the hub of the tourist paradise, set on the beach just outside the famous “Hangout.”
In addition to running the event, Piankova will hold a clinic at the nearby Phoenix building, with the Academy providing Certificates of Participation to those who qualify.
Classes are expected to run 8-10 a.m. April 24-25, with the AOBHC action taking place 10 a.m. to noon both days and then 4:30 to 6:30 both evenings. Teams from Europe, the Middle East and all across the U.S. will compete, as will younger players from local cities of Foley, Orange Beach and Gulf Shores.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission Sports University created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call 251-626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.