USA Team Handball has formally announced the hiring of full time head coaches for its men’s and women’s programs. Javier Garcia Cuesta will take the reins for the men and Christian Latulippe will head the women’s program. This marks the first time the U.S. will have had full time coaches in several years (since 2007 for the women and depending how you want to define “full time” back to the 1990′s for the men). Both new coaches have previous experience as U.S. head coaches.
Garcia Cuesta, 65, is a Spanish National and was the Men’s National Team Coach for much of the 1980′s and led the USA to a 9th place finish at the 1984 Olympics. Although, the U.S. overall record was 1-4-1, every match was competitive and the U.S. lost by no more than 3 goals. Garcia Cuesta continued to coach the USA through the 1987 PANAM Games, where the USA narrowly defeated Cuba to qualify for the 1998 Olympics. After leaving the USA program he had a number of head coach assignments. He had two stints as Spain’s head coach (89-93 and briefly in 2008). He also coached Egypt (95-99) and Portugal (99-05). His most recent assignment was with Brazil (09-11) with his last coaching duty there ending after Brazil’s loss to Argentina in the final of the 2011 PANAM Games.
Latulippe, 41, has Canadian and French citizenship and was the USA Women’s National Team Coach from 2002 to 2007. During that period he was responsible for running all aspects of the residency program in Cortland, NY. The U.S. team was not very successful during his tenure, but also was clearly operating under an austere, shoestring budget. Latulippe left the program in 2007 under somewhat of a cloud just prior to the USA’s unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the PANAM Games. Since his resignation Latulippe has coached in France as both an assistant and head coach at different club levels. From 2010-2012 he coached at 2nd Division (D2) club, La Motte Servolex, leaving in February last year with the club struggling financially, mired in last place and enroute to a 3-22-1 record and relegation to the 3rd Division (N1). Latulippe is currently the coach of 4th Division (N2) club, Le Pouzin HB 07. Le Pouzin was relegated last year and Latulippe has the team on track for a return to the 3rd Division as they are leading their pool with an 8-0-1 record. Latulippe also has been a Canadian assistant coach and had a short stint this past summer as the coach of the USA Men’s team at the Pan American Championships where the USA team finished in 7th place with a 2-3-0 record.
In an email response to questions, USA Team Handball CEO, Matt Van Houten, indicated that the written contracts have not yet been signed, but the terms of service will be one year with the expectation that the coaches will continue on through the qualification process for the 2016 Olympic Games. (This would be the PANAM Games in July, 2015) Although, not explicitly stated in the Federation announcement, Van Houten confirmed that the employment is full time. Garcia Cuesta is engaged in player development and coaching education programs and will be conducting monthly talent identification clinics in Colorado Spring at the Olympic Training Center. Latulippe will move to the U.S. later this spring at which time he will begin his full employment. Both coaches would also be fully involved in the operation of the “long term, flexible residency program” tentatively scheduled to begin later this fall.
On a side note, Van Houten indicated that no date has yet been set for the Women’s North American and Caribbean Regional qualifier for the 2013 Pan American Championships later this summer. Previously, it had been announced that a tryout would be conducted in January. This tryout will be rescheduled dependent on the date of the subject tournament.
Note: this mundohandball article was the source of some of the dates for Garcia Cuesta’s coaching assignments: Link
Podcast interviews with Coach Latulippe discussing coaching in France and development challenges in the U.S.: Link