It’s My Park: Handball at W. 4th St. Courts


Handball is a serious game in New York. Nowhere do they take it more seriously than at the West 4th Street Courts, where you can usually find some pretty intense competition. Handball is an all-American game, and I absolutely love this game. It is the most fabulous game in the world. The games are wonderful. You have acrobatic maneuvers, agility you’ve never seen before. I love just the intensity, the stamina, the endurance, the whole thing about the game itself. Handball is one of the most difficult games to play. You need two hands, good speed, and a good brain. You have to use your whole entire body. You have to use your mind. And all you need is a little blue ball, and that’s it. Handball is free. You don’t need expensive equipment. You don’t have to pay anything. You don’t have to bring any elaborate clothing; just some sneakers and a t-shirt. I’m in the handball college, as you can see. The only unfortunate thing I see about it is once you start playing, you become addicted. So if you don’t like addictions, don’t come over here to play handball. Once I started playing it, I got hooked. I’ll go to bed, I dream handball, I’m practicing handball, so when I wake up first thing in the morning, once I get dressed and I’m ready to get to the court–I get on the court and I’m ready to just play. Because I’ve already practiced in my sleep. You serve the ball–you get two tries to get it over the short line. The person in the back has to hit it to the wall somewhere away from you, If you miss the ball, you go in the back and they go in the front. Only the person in the front can score. 72 years old, and I can outrun anybody here. And I can out-think anybody here. You play handball, you live longer. I have a handball clothing line, so that’s one of my slogans. 20 years ago, I was one of those guys who was on top of one of those lists they used to have here, called the pyramid. Now I’m just trying to hang on, for the love of the game. Practice always makes perfect. After all, I couldn’t become a legend after thirty-something years if I didn’t practice every day. And you have guys that are 60, 70 years old, still playing handball. But you don’t have a lot of guys 60, 70 years old playing basketball. But playing handball? They’re here. I would actively encourage people to play handball because it’s good for the sport, and it’s good for the exercise. A lot of our kids today are not in shape. You can hit that ball as hard as you possibly can, and you just feel gratified. Your hands, they become used to the feeling of hitting the ball. If you’re not playing handball, you start getting nervous. You gotta channel your energy somewhere else. But where do you go that’s free? The handball court. If you have a bad day at work and you hold it in, and then you get to the handball court, it’s like as soon as you get on the court, that adrenaline starts flowing, and you just want to play, and by the time you finish playing, you forgot all about what you had stress about. It’s like, if you were in an argument or something, you’d just go and play handball, and it would just make you feel so much better. It relaxes you. You can go into a park at any given time on a nice day, and just get a pickup game. You see a handball court, you walk on, and you do what I do: You say, “Anybody got next? Who got next?” and then you see, “Oh, him, him, him, her,” and you get in the back of the list. And that’s how you do it. If there’s nobody there, bring a friend. It’s a seasonal thing, but when the summertime comes, everybody’s ready, feining for handball. I personally thrive off the crowd when I’m playing handball. The crowd gives you a lot of feedback. If they see somebody that’s really playing great, and they’re really into the game, and it’s a good game, they’ll cheer on, they’ll shout for who they want to win the game, they’ll shout for who’s making a save

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