Mallaig girls travel across the pond for handball
Three members of the Mallaig girl’s handball team have stepped their game up to the next level, and are currently sharpening their skills in Aarhus, Denmark with the Alberta handball team.
Baylee Jeffery, Seleena Hebert and Haley Ozga left St. Paul last week with the Alberta handball team to the Sports Academy Aarhus. Each day the girls take in two practices and a game against a variety of opponents, and as Jeffery points out, European handball comes with a steep increase in skill level.
“When you’re playing in a European country where handball is one of the biggest sports, you’re playing against girls that have trained for 10 years basically, so definitely the speed and the skills (are big changes),” said Jeffery. “You could say that our games are a little bit challenging for sure, but we’re definitely getting better. The first game that we had here was hard, it was hard to keep up with the speed and intensity of the game but I feel that our team is definitely improving and I can feel myself improving a lot.”
The Alberta team has been receiving instruction from a number of international handball coaches, which Ozga says has helped keep their heads and hearts in the game.
“It is definitely a big help when playing handball because when you hear it from your coach then you hear it from other coaches, it’s easier in different ways so it helps you improve even more,” said Ozga. “They’re so passionate about the game, and it’s really contagious.”
Hebert added that the coaches in Denmark have been pushing them to compete at their highest level, which will result in a lot of skill being transferred back to the Mallaig team this season.
“I think it’s more that they challenge you a lot here . . . In high school handball you would be able to get away with way more, but here you have to work 10 times harder just to score or get a point,” said Hebert. “I think when we played in Mallaig we were still learning, and we still are a lot, but with our skill level now we’re a little more quick and we can think on our feet better. We can help other people on our team, we can bring back some of the things we learned at Alberta handball and bring it back to our school.”
Ozga said that while the current coaching they are receiving has been great in terms of developing their skills as handball players, they owe it all to their Mallaig coach, Ian MacGillivray.
“It’s amazing that we even received this opportunity and we’re so grateful for everyone who helped us out along the way,” she said. “We would really like to send out a big thanks to our coach Mr. M, because without him we wouldn’t have even had the chance to be here, and to our team Alberta coach (Mike Nahmiash). I feel like all of our coaches have helped us immensely.”
The girls will return home to St. Paul this Saturday evening, but as Hebert points out, not without taking in a few of the sights.
“At the end of the week we have two days, Thursday and Friday,” she said. “We’re going to go into Copenhagen and we’re going to go touring and shopping.”
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