Then - Montreal 2007 from left: Tyree and Jurell Bastidas with Na Liu.
Now - Montreal 2012 from left: Na Liu with Jurell and Tyree Bastidas
It has been five years since Jurell and Tyree Bastidas had played at the Canadian nationals in Brossard, Montreal. Both brothers were still playing in the juniors divisions and wanted to venture into their first Canadian handball championship during the spring of 2007.
Tyree, a 16-year-old high school student, played in the junior division, while his brother Jurell jumped into the men’s open division.
Tyree did dominate his field in the 17-and under division, but Jurell couldn’t survive his second round battle against Canada’s best, Danny Bell.
Their experience through the Canadian national championships taught them a big valuable lesson that made them come back five years later.
Nowadays, both brothers don’t play in the junior divisions anymore, instead, they play in the men’s open (singles & doubles), and to the surprise of everyone, they managed to get to the championship matches, winning a Canadian national title.
This past weekend, handball players were treated to the best FrontBall tournament to date. The Frontball handball version is already here and will stay here in New York for many years to come as it keeps pushing its way to be among the top outdoor activities.
What it used to be a small tournament in the past, has mushroomed overnight into a big tournament that rivals the USHA national 1-wall with the big and small ball.
The organizing FrontBall Committed payed out cash Awards of almost $3,000.00 in all Pro divisions, and awarded trophies and medals to all semifinalists and runner-ups in the juniors, amateurs’ men and women divisions. It also gave out meal tickets to all players.
The French FrontBall Committee brought its own film production staff and documentary editors for the game.
Several assigned referees were paid for their services from the beginning to the end of the tournament. In the end, t-shirts, towels, handballs and other variety of sporting items were given away to the players and spectators, while a raffle was held with several winners.
Albert Apuzzi, the Tournament Director, gave away dozens of big ball handballs to the spectators, courtesy of SkyBounce.
The festivities came to an end after the presentation of Awards and a photo session.
The future of the FrontBall handball version looks very promising in New York, where players seemed to have picked up the game surprisingly with ease. More than anything else, the majority of the players were willing to play due to the big monetary incentive for one day’s work.
Congratulations to the organizing FrontBall Committee for running the best Frontball tournament in America.
Above: Leslie Amminson from Newfoundland plays the violin.
Above from left: Donald Cote, Kathleen Bedard and Heloise Cote at the Banquet.
During the Canadian national championships and at the Banquet it was discovered that Canadians not only display great handball skills, but they also display musical and writing skills with their hands.
Heloise Cote: at the Tournament, H. Cote, a handball player managing the desk at the Canadian national gave the Bastidas Family a signed copy of one of her books that she has recently published and released to the public.
Heloise Cote, when not playing handball, has used her talent to write numerous books that can be found and bought either in Canada or the U.S.
Leslie Amminson: during the Banquet, while everyone was chowing down the food, the crowd got to enjoy and watch talented teenager L. Amminson play the violin.
It’s not easy finding a young girl who plays the violin willing to entertain a crowd of the magnitude of the Canadian Banquet. Her repertoire also included singing a song while playing the violin during the Awards ceremony.
Congratulation to these two Canadian handball players.
Photo by Albert Apuzzi
New York players got together at the Coney Island handball courts and held the annual Barbecue that has been held for many years.
The sun was blazing, the food was smoking, and the music was pumping in good old summer fashion.
Albert Apuzzi along with other handball players usually attends the barbecue every year while volunteers man the grilling and provide entertainment for all handball enthusiasts.
According to Albert Apuzzi the participants love the event and look forward to it every year.
“It makes them very happy,” Tyree and Jurell say.
“The last time we attended the BBQ, there was and egg toss event, a sack race, handball games and plenty of food”
Above: Jurell and Tyree Bastidas enjoy a stroll in Quebec city.
Above: Team Bastidas takes a break during practices at the CrossIsland "Y" in Queens. Frustration took a toll on Team Bastidas' goals, but their departure was amicable.
Most people never saw it coming, but rumors that team Bastidas was breaking apart started circulating around since last year when Team Bastidas couldn’t advance to the finals of the 1-wall nationals. Team Bastidas was only one point away to go to the championship match when they lost 11-10 to the eventual champion Team Sala/Kaplan. Team Sala/Kaplan went ahead to win the title in two games.
The breaking point for team Bastidas’ misfortunes was when it also reached the semifinals of the 3-wall nationals in Toledo, Ohio, but again, couldn’t closed the game and therefore couldn’t advance to the championship match.
There is no doubt Team Bastidas had already established itself as the best open team in America overall as it had a great run at the open national level in all three handball versions within the last twelve months, outperforming other teams in the country that only limit their winnings to either 3- or 4-wall events.
Team Bastidas’ major accomplishments since last year include:
2011 USHA National 1-wall open semifinalists
2011 USHA National 3-wall open semifinalists
2012 USHA Northeast Regional 4-wall open champions
2012 CHA National 4-wall open champions
Coach Mike Watson was very surprised for team Bastidas holding together for so long. “Usually, siblings playing together in handball tournaments don’t last long as a team” said Mike.
“They have to give each other an opportunity to partner with other players”
Indeed, that’s exactly what each player is doing now, and as of July 4th they are free agents looking for new partners. If they don't find partners suitable to their styles, they will play as a team again.
It wasn’t an easy decision to split Team Bastidas, as other people’s opinions were also taken into consideration to make this painful decision, including Hall of Famer Albert Apuzzi’s input. “I believe that Team Bastidas should stick together instead of going separate ways” said Albert.
“They are still very young and mistakes should be expected”
For the record, Team Bastidas will continue to play as a team in 4-wall tournaments.
Tyree Bastidas is the youngest player in America to have reached the men's open (singles) championships in all three handball versions:
2010 - USHA National One-Wall Championships - Brooklyn, New York.
2010 - USHA National Three-Wall Championships - Toledo, Ohio.
2012 - CHA National Four-Wall Championships - Montreal, Canada.