As the U.S. National Championships get set to take center stage here in Vegas, I’ll pause for a little reflection on my last games as a competitive player with the Condors at the 2004 National Championships. As the old guard on our team was already showing its age, even back then, I wasn’t sure if we had the goods to win it all. Then in our first game I see this young kid jump out of the gym and score a goal like a young Darrick Heath, and I say to my teammates, “Where did you find this guy?” This “guy”, of course, was Gary Hines and with this welcome addition to the roster the route to a title that year was a whole lot easier. Later, I cornered, Bjoern Brembs as to whether he could get him a club contract in Germany. Bjoern, was already hot on the case, but it took a few years for the right situation to come along and in 2008, Gary signed with DJK Waldbüttelbrunn.
I haven’t seen Gary play since then, but I’ve followed his career on paper the past few years. When the U.S. National Team got together recently for training and matches against German Clubs a few weeks ago one of the clubs, TV Korsenbroich, posted a 12 minute video highlight film on their website. The U.S. was blown out by this 2nd Div club, but Gary Hines shines with several impressive goals.
I’m not a professional talent scout, but I’m thinking there’s got to be room on the roster for this player in Germany’s 2nd or even 1st Division league (Not for Hamburg or Kiel mind you, but I could see him play for some of the teams in the lower half of the table). Certainly, it looks like he could play for TVK. With 2 years of seasoning in the 4th Division Bavarian League, he should be acclimated to Germany. Certainly, he’s proven he can score at that level with a Bavarian League record of 300 goals in 28 matches. His 10.7 goals a game were 3 a game better than the next best player. In a higher division that number is likely to drop and I also think his size/skills are more in tune with a spot on the wing. And yes, this may be a little bold and biased, but the one player that I would compare him to in terms of raw athletic ability would be France’s Luc Abalo.
I’ve commented several times about the importance of the relationships that USA Team Handball is building with European Leagues and the potential for those relationships to pay huge dividends. Critics have been skeptical, but there is now a golden opportunity for the U.S. Federation to silence them with the successful shepherding of Mr. Hines to a top club. It really shouldn’t be a tough sell. He can play and the Handball Bundesliga (HBL) should be eager to increase its global reach. What better way to do that than to give a little extra push for the best player from the sleeping handball giant that is the U.S.?
[b]Seriously, get this guy a contract! [/b]
What have you got to lose? Here’s hoping some club we'll see the light and that we’ll soon see some kids sporting a Hines jersey in the U.S., much like the Nowitzki jerseys are commonplace in Germany.
THN (27 Nov 08): Gary Hines Signs Contract with German Club: http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?item.641
VIDEO: Team USA vs. TVK: http://www.hand-ball-herz.de/fans/hoeren_und_sehen/tvk_player
Leading Scorers Bavarian League: http://www.bliga.info/bl2_spiel/torschuetzen.php?Art=1
USATH (18 May 10): 300 Goals, the Lions Roar, Partille Cup & EHF Final Four: http://usateamhandball.org/blogs/steve-pastorino-on-handball/posts/1891-300-goals-the-lions-roar-partille-cup-ehf-final-four