Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Athlete finds team handball to her liking

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LINDA Szyszkowski was initially unsure about whether to play team handball, because, as she states, "I knew nothing about it."

Her concern was short-lived.

"Last year was my first year in team handball. I played wing for my high school team," says the recent graduate of Windsor Park Collegiate.

Szyszkowski was a member of Manitoba's under-21 women's team that participated in the Canadian junior team handball championships in Lavalle, Que. in May 9. The team placed last in the tournament.

But team handball wasn't the only sport Szyszkowski played in high school.

Dale Kerr, a physical education teacher at Windsor Park, notes that she was also captain of the school's varsity volleyball squad, plus a key member of the basketball team.

"She's got very good physical ability. She jumps well and is quick," says Kerr. "She played mixed doubles badminton for the school this year and she also plays community club fastpitch."

That may explain why the Szyszkowski was voted top female athlete by her fellow Grade 12 students.

"I was really surprised. It was supposed to be a surprise at the grad, but I was told by another student," says Szyszkowski, who will be attending the University of Winnipeg in September.

After a regular season team handball game against Churchill High School last year, Szyszkowski was approached by the opposing coach and asked if she wanted to play for his school.

"There was a qualifier at Red River College for the national juvenile championships, and Churchill was one of the teams involved along with Team Manitoba," says Szyszkowski, adding that a teammate Paige Daniels was also asked to play on the Churchill team.

She explains that the tournament at RRC was held to determine which Manitoba high school team would also qualify to play in the championships.

"We played against Silver Heights Collegiate and we lost by one point," says Szyszkowski. "Afterwards, the Silver Heights coach asked me and a couple of other girls to play for his team."

The nationals were held in Winnipeg a couple of weeks later.

"We did really well. We won a couple of games against teams from other provinces," says Szyszkowski. "Then I continued with the high school season with Windsor Park. We came third in the provincial high school finals."

Eventually, Szyszkowski was selected to play on a provincial high school all-star team, as well as being approached to play for a team in the Winnipeg Senior Women's Team Handball League.

"But I wanted to dedicate myself to volleyball for high school, so I didn't commit to any team," says Szyszkowski.

This season, she made the provincial junior handball team.

"I was determined to make the team," stresses Szyszkowski.

"Team handball is the best sport ever. I love it. it has a little of everything. There's always new techniques and strategies to master. The game flows."

PHOTO MIKE DEAL/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 16, 2003 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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