A Junior College in Fort Dodge, Iowa Won a Collegiate Rugby Title: Really? What the? Could that Happen in Handball?

Iowa Central Junior College: D1AA Collegiate Rugby Champions:
Could that possibly happen with Team Handball

As rugby in the U.S. is the closest parallel to what handball might someday be in the U.S., I regularly listen to several rugby related podcasts. It’s kind of fun to listen to discussion related to their NGB, their fledgling pro league or their college game and simply switch the word “rugby” with “handball” to see if it still rings true. Quite often it does and quite often it gets me wondering whether some development or effort being tried there could be applied in a handball context.

Yesterday, I was “gobsmacked” by this podcast interview with Brent Nelson, the rugby head coach of the Iowa Central Tritons, the 2019 D1AA National Champions. Gobsmacked because of the following:

  • How does a small college beat far larger colleges?
  • How does a Junior College (2 year program) compete with traditional colleges (4 year programs)?
  • How does a coach recruit “anyone” to come to Fort Dodge, Iowa? Let alone international students and inner city kids from Florida? (FYI: I’m from a small town in Iowa; This is truly amazing)
  • This program started from scratch just 6 years ago. In that time they’ve jumped 2 levels of play. Sometimes by design… sometimes because the other schools kicked them out because they were too good.

Some bigger picture thoughts:

  • It’s not the first time that the JUCO (Junior College) route has been considered for team handball: Link
  • Not every young adult is inclined to get a 4 year degree. This could be a great path, a better path for some athletes.
  • But, some of these athletes do indeed continue their education at a four year school. Could North Carolina, Texas A&M and other schools be in a recruiting war for talent some day?

Not sure where such a program would be started, but based on what Iowa Central has overcome and accomplished, it clearly could be done for team handball.

Goff Rugby Report Article: Link