The 69th annual 4-Wall Handball National Championships were held at Los Caballeros Sports Village in Fountain Valley from June 26-30, 2019. More than 300 players from as far away as Ireland, Mexico and New York competed in both amateur and professional divisions, with LAFD Handball turning out 13 players with some great results.
Engineer John Libby (FS-80) led team LAFD, bringing home another Gold in the Golden Masters Singles (50 +). Libby’s final’s match against San Francisco Battalion Chief Dean Chrispen was one of the most exciting of the tournament. Their rivalry dates back to Sports Days, which is a multi-sport competition between LA and San Francisco Fire Departments that has been going on for decades.
Assistant Chief Roy Harvey (FPB) won his first National Title in the Super Masters Singles “B” (60 +). Jesus Pasos (retired) placed 2nd in the Super Masters Singles. Captain I Alex Garcia (FS-9) placed 2nd in the Seniors Singles (35 +), and 2nd in the Seniors Doubles. Ron Bruno (retired) placed 2nd in the Diamond Masters “B” (70 +).
LAFD handled the cooking duties for the tournament on Friday, with master chef Craig Nielsen in charge of the volunteers. The menu consisted of 100 lbs. of tri-tip, 80 lbs. of lemon pepper chicken, with potato salad, cole-slaw, baked beans and rolls. As usual, the LAFD meal was the highlight of the tournament. Handball Commissioner Jerry Puga, Captain Phil Dominguez, and Captain Ryon Jones volunteered to help with cooking and serving.
Retired Engineer Paula Perry came down from Oregon to compete in the Women’s Singles and Doubles, and retired Captain Joe “the lung” Holguin competed in both “Golden Masters B” and “Super Masters B” divisions. Tournament veterans Sergio Guzman, David Diaz, Christopher Yokoyama, and Ryon Jones all moved up in class after winning titles in previous National Championships. They competed well but medals were only to presented to first and second place finishers. Besides handling the cooking duties, Craig Nielsen and Gary Maga competed in Super Masters Doubles (60 +), finishing the tournament with an exciting comeback from nine points behind to force a tiebreaker, then a six point comeback in the 11 point tie-breaker to win their match.
For LAFD players who have never competed outside of a Department tournament, you owe it to yourself to test your skills against the greater handball community. It is a great time!