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Give them a hand

Give them a hand

Lauren Durham ’22 August 07, 2019

It’s a fairly quiet Friday morning. Students walk to their summer classes while prospective students and their parents follow student ambassadors in and out of buildings. A tour guide stops in front of RecPlex, promising the group that UD’s sports complex is widely popular and rarely empty. Inside the building, a group of athletes are proving her statement to be true.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, nearly a dozen educators of the past and present gather to play the sport they love most — handball. According to Ken Rosenzweig, an accounting professor who taught at UD from 1981-2001 and a proud member of the UD Handball Club, the tradition began in the 1970s. 

“It was probably originally lunch time. We’d come at noon,” Rosenzweig said. 

Norm Hecht, a retiree of the University of Dayton Research Institute, added, “We’d go from the office to the handball court.” 

The UD Handball Club on a recent Friday at RecPlex: (from left) Norm Hecht, Jerry Strange, Lloyd Huff, Gerry Shaughnessy, Gene Jackson, Lee Drew, Marlon Williams, Ken Rosenzweig, Lucian Zelazny

According to original members, temporary courts were assembled in the Fieldhouse. Walls were created on the back of bleachers and could be moved if necessary. The club eventually relocated to the PAC and later to RecPlex courts in 2006.         

Members of the UD Handball Club said they take pride in the difficulty of the sport. While handball is similar to racquetball, one key element is missing — the racquet. Players have to hit the ball with just their hands, testing their coordination, endurance and pain tolerance.

“You have to be ambidextrous. You need to be able to hit the ball with both hands. That produces a lot of good development on both sides of your body,” Rosenzweig said.

Lee Drew, a retired teacher and actor from Hawaii, found the UD Handball Club by chance. When he moved to the Dayton area, he was in pursuit for an opportunity to play handball. He now finds himself on the court three times a week.

“When I was 18, I said, ‘When I retire, I’m going to play handball, watch movies and do plays.’ That’s what I do now. I’m doing my dream. Meeting guys like this, they just make you better,” Drew said.

Even though some members are no longer able to play, they look forward to the company. Each year, Rosenzweig organizes a UD Handball Club party for all current and previous players. There, they reminisce and bond over the sport.

While the group is mainly comprised of older members, they are trying to expand to younger generations. Anyone who happens to be in RecPlex on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday morning will see a group carrying on a 40-year-old tradition that reflects the ongoing spirit of UD. Lend a hand and join in.