Nick Allen
Sports Editor

As most Harbor students can tell you, walking past the handball courts can be a dangerous excursion. In order to safely reach the other side, one must go through the trenches between the huddled crowd of stimulated spectators and the tenacious warriors who are participating in the games. 

For the few decades, handball has rapidly gained popularity on the Harbor campus; with its influence reaching a fever pitch every spring with the annual organized handball tournament intent on answering a simple question: Who is the King of the Court? The tournament began this week and will last throughout the month, igniting a fierce competition between the tempestuous adversaries.

The tournament was started by Mr. Malkus fifteen years ago, the year he began teaching at Newport Harbor.

“I really wanted to give the students something to look forward to, and maybe alleviate some of the reluctance they were harboring toward school” said Malkus, who teaches English learning students. While handball had been prevalent at the school before Malkus, its popularity spiked after the Tournament became a yearly tradition.

When he saw many of his students “trudging” through the day, he made it his goal to irradiate that attitude. He has been largely successful in his quest, as their enthusiasm for the game has carried over into the classroom.

“I think handball has had a positive influence on my schooling, as I am more excited to go to school and embrace it as something that is there to help me” said Junior Jacob Chavez, a handball court regular. 

However, it doesn’t need the tournament to play with unbounding dedication to the sport. Their passion for the sport is evident all year round, as they are seen going full-speed a whole hour before school, the precious few minutes allotted for break, and the half hour at lunch Monday-Friday.  

Described as “racquetball without the racquets”, handball has very simple rules. The ball is bounced on the ground once by the serving player before it hits the wall, where it ricochets off to be hit by the other player. A player loses once he is unable to return the ball to the wall.

The only difference is that they don’t have a back wall as racquetball players do which makes it necessary to have a posse of bystanders behind them ready to retrieve the ball if it goes out of bounds.

So who do handball insiders think is going to come away from the tournament victorious? The talk around the court seems to suggest Alfredo Leyva, a self-proclaimed handball enthusiast, is going to take the crown at the 2013 games.

“I play because it’s challenging. Handball is a very frustrating game, and it’s very gratifying when I am able to overcome that and succeed” Leyva said.

The winner will take home a trophy provided by the Foundation, giving further incentive for the players that are already gung-ho about the sport.

While many students find their calling in organized sports, these students become a part of something more meaningful than team: a culture. With their devotion to their game, they have single-handedly proven that while they positively influence the sport, the game can positively influence their lives beyond the court.

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