Three one wall handball courts were installed in the Sports Hall in the summer of 2012. Since then St Louis have entered and hosted development sessions and tournament days. Handball is now one of the popular activities in St Louis. Key stage 3 and 4 students want to play at every opportunity throughout the school day. It is now an integral part of their daily school routine – racing to get a court when the bell goes for break or lunch time as well as during PE lessons!
Over the last few years St Louis has hosted Antrim qualifying blitz days for Year 8 and 9 as well as 10 and 11 boys. The St Louis teams have always progressed to the Ulster Final but the standard of competition at this level is very high as Tyrone and Monaghan students are invariably playing handball at club level.
One of the highlights of handball to date within St Louis came in October 2012 when eight Year 9 boys were selected to travel to the City West Hotel in Dublin to take part in school’s competition that coincided with the World Championships which were being held in Ireland for the first time in a considerable number of years. Mr Adams and Miss Doherty accompanied the boys and despite the very early start, the boys were in great spirits and really enjoyed their first opportunity to play against other schools from across Ireland. All the boys did very well considering this was their first ‘competition’ especially when they were playing schools that are more established at playing the game of handball. Before travelling home, staff and students had the opportunity to watch Ireland’s most famous handballer in action. Cavan’s Paul Brady took on David Finke from the USA in the first game of an exhibition show case between the top players from Ireland and America. Brady’s movement, agility, strength and vision was at times breath taking to watch and showed the large crowd were in awe of watching the game played at the top level.
A few weeks later, St Louis welcomed Colaiste Feirste to the school for a morning of Year 8 and 9 matches. Also in attendance was one of Ireland’s top female handballers Aisling Reilly. Aisling coached some of the Year 8 girls in the skills of the game before some of the St Louis boys then challenged her to a match. Despite their best efforts, Aisling showed why she is a world champion in the sport!!!
St Louis PE Department welcomed National Handball Development Officer Darragh Daly to the school in April 2013. Darragh delivered a session with L6 students as part of their Enrichment classes. Throughout the afternoon, the students learned the basic movements and skills of the game and then progressed to coaching drills and situations. These students then have to deliver three sessions to junior pupils within the school to achieve their Foundation Level Coaching certificate.
St Louis are very grateful to Darragh Daly who has been an immense support to the school’s handball development plans as well as Ulster Council officers Shane McCann and Ryan Mellon for selecting our school to host blitzes. The focus for 2015/16 is to ensure there is a more structured school’s competition in place with the main aim of incorporating more young females playing and developing the game.