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NYC Parks Commissioner Henry Stern gave out checks and trophies to the finalists

NYC Big Blue Championships Demonstrates Handball's Growing Popularity

On Sunday June 25th New York City Parks Department hosted what was probably the largest one-wall event to be held for the past 20 years, the NYC Big Blue Championships. Over 500 players decided to enter the competition and see just where they stood amongst the current crop of Big Blue competitors. (see singles and doubles)

The tournament, which began the previous weekend, was originally scheduled to complete on Sunday June 18 but was delayed due to rain. Competitions took place in 5 sites, and included 8 competitive divisions (see basic stats below).

According to Paul Williams, President of the Inner City Handball Association (ICHA) and one of the event's organizers, the tournament marked a major milestone for the sport. "The City just announced that they would be spending over $250,000 to fix up hundreds of the one-wall courts found throughout the boroughs. This event demonstrated that lots of people are using the facilities and this reflects a resurgence in the sport."

Parks Commissioner Henry Stern and Deputy Commissioner Bob Garafola attended the event and presented awards to the singles champions. Clearly impressed with the turnout, Commissioner Stern spoke positively about the future of the tournament and the growing interest in the sport.

Full Cooperation of Local Handball Associations

Another notable aspect of the event was the level of cooperation between the City Park's Department and several major local handball associations. Dwight Worley, president of the St. Albans Handball Association, Tyrone Snell, president of Our Own Handball Association (OOHA) and Paul Williams of the ICHA each played major roles in event coordination. Snell explained, " This was the first time that the three major NY based handball associations worked together to run a tournament. We are forming the NY Handball Alliance with the idea of unifying handball players throughout the city."

Paul Williams will head up the organization in its first year. "The association is open to any handball organization in NY state interested in participating." he said. "Our goal is to help with event coordination and to help encourage greater support for the sport."

Judging by the Park's Department Big Blue Championship Tournament, the Alliance is off to a great start.


The Parks Department is sponsoring the Championship in conjunction with its restortion of handball facilitieis throughout the five boroughs.

The City has 2052 handball surfaces (constituting of the 1 wall surface and the painted court area) citywide; 406 in the Bronx, 673 in Brooklyn, 277 in Manhattan, 640 in Queens, and 56 in Staten Island. Crews from each borough will bring every court back to its original state through powerwashing, graffiti removal, and filling expansion joints and cracks on the court. Every wall surface will be smoothed and painted with new lines and Park leaves added. During the course of the restoration approximately 1500 courts will be restored, 500 this year.

Basic Stats

Sites participating in initial competition

Borough Location # of Courts Site Coordinator
Brooklyn Coney Island W 5th St 10 Lyn Fernandez & Ken Ginty
Bronx Orchard Beech 8 Tyrone Snell
Manhattan Central Park (N. Meadow) 9 Karl Muchow, Fred Turby
Queens Far Rockaway 12 Dwight Worley
Staten Island Mason Playground 4 Melody Ruiz and Tony Roberts

The number of courts column above states how many courts were dedicated specifically to the competition the day of the tournament. Some of the facilities had other courts that remained open for general public use.

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