PODCAST: Throwback Thursday: The More Things Change…


While working on the next part of my commentary regarding whether an austere Residency Program is better than none at all I listened again to an interview I conducted with Board Member, David Thompson back in May 2010. The interview took place after the Town Hall meeting at the 2010 National Championships in Las Vegas and focused on the Board’s recent decision to not fully fund qualification events for Olympic Qualification.  (Take a listen yourself:  The podcast is 22 minutes long and the link is at the bottom of the page)

The circumstances are similar, yet different in some key ways. Funding, then as now, was the issue, but the Board back in 2010 was only committing to minimal funding. Whereas for the past 2 years we’ve funded a Residency Program and organized quite a bit of competition for our National Teams.

What’s striking now is to compare the end results in terms of Olympic Qualification.

2011: USA Team Handball did as little as possible for our National Teams. No Residency Program, part time coaches, basically no preparatory matches and short training camps. The result: Qualification for the 2011 PANAM Games.

2015: USA Team Handball did as much as it possibly could with its scarce resources: A full time Residency Program, experienced full time coaches, several preparatory matches: The result: Non Qualification for the 2015 PANAM Games.

And, if you want to go back to 2007, the Women’s team failed to qualify for 2007 PANAM Games despite having had a Residency Program for several years at Cortland, NY. And, if you go even further back, the U.S. qualified in 2003 for the PANAM Games and the Men even medaled.

Yes, if you focus just on the all important benchmark of competition events related to Olympic Qualification the best results over the last 12 years occurred when the least resources were expended.

For sure, I’m a skeptic on residency programs, but this has me scratching my head a bit.  I’ll chalk up these surprising results mostly to the other variables at play, such as the quality of the competition in those years. The argument against Residency Programs will never be that they don’t help prepare U.S. National Teams.  No, the argument is whether they are worth the cost when there are so many other efforts that need funding support.