It’s 10 a.m. on Monday morning and Oakdale High’s track and field athletes are enjoying a day of break from practice in honor of Presidents’ Day.
All except one.
Oakdale senior Devin Holman is scouring the construction fencing outside The Corral, searching for an open spot he can slip through to begin his laps on the all-weather track.
It’s not that Holman is more dedicated than the rest of Oakdale’s harriers, he just has more to train for.
The 17-year-old Oakdale native holds a legitimate shot to represent the United Sates at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Holman is a member of the U.S. National youth handball team, and is fresh off a trip to West Point in New York where he joined the youth program for a tournament series against Army.
“Handball is pretty much a mix between water polo, basketball and soccer,” Holman said. “It involves a lot of jumping and it gets pretty physical.”
Holman picked up the sport in Europe in the second grade after reading a flyer that advertised a competitive program in the Switzerland village where he was staying.
Nine years later he made the trip back to Oakdale with countless hours of handball under his belt, and American oddity that made him a superbly experienced player at a relatively young age.
He got wind of Team USA handball tryouts in Colorado in early August of 2009 and made the trek to test his measure. It was at these series of tryouts that Holman picked up a reputation for his skills.
“After just the second day the coach came up to me and told me that I was going to be a part of this team no matter what,” Holman said. “Then it just took off from there.”
USA Team Handball paid for a roundtrip flight to Iceland for three full weeks of intense training under the tutelage of some of the sports’ most knowledgeable tutors.
The team also sent Holman to Germany for a 10-day tour of contests against European players.
“That was my first taste of what it might be like to compete in the Olympics,” Holman said. “I just remember standing there while they played the German and U.S. national anthems, thinking ‘this is so cool’.
“It’s been quite an adventure.”
Holman expects to join USA handball players on a quickly formed team that will compete against the best of the NCAA at the upcoming college nationals.
“I’m not in college yet, but they are making some exceptions for the USA handball team,” Holman said. “That should be pretty interesting.”
Holman is currently a big part of Team USA’s run for a qualification in the upcoming Youth World Cup, though his 18th birthday in April will make him unable to compete for the actual event.
The Oakdale senior plans to continue action with team USA until a potential shot at qualifying for the 2016 Olympics. It’s a long ways away and a distant shot for any American looking to reach the pinnacle of the sport, but Holman knows it’s a shot nonetheless.
“It’s a great feeling knowing that is something I could potentially be a part of,” Holman said of an Olympic handball team. “But it’s so far away and I have a lot work to do until then.”