Even if disappointment followed Sunday's thrashing against Croatia at 10:40, it remains one of the special stories of the Handball World Cup: The United States achieved a historic feat.
In its seventh World Cup appearance, the United States earned its first win (28:27) on the first day of action against Morocco – in the 26th game!
The diverse lineup of the US National Team includes not only US Air Force Captain Andrew Donlin, former midfielder Ty Reid and Gary Hines, who have starred in the TV shows “Ninja Warrior” and “Take Me Out”, but also two brothers from German second division team TSV Bayer Dormagen : Patrick and Ian Hutter.
Keeper announces historic US success
At 27 he is the oldest,” explains Patrick Sport1-An interview about why he and his brother played for the USA, what the historic win means and what it's like to play on such an exceptional team.
Sport 1: Mr. Hutter, what was it like writing the sports history of the United States of America?
Patrick Keeper: It was an amazing, overwhelming feeling for the US National Handball Team. This was the first ever World Championship win for the American team. It makes us all proud, especially as players, that we were there. You can feel it after the match too. We stormed the field, hugged each other and later celebrated in the locker room – of course not too bad, because we still had some games to play. After the victory, we received a lot of news, and the media presence of the American team was huge. It was very important to us, and one of our main goals, to beat Morocco and thus promote the sport in America. And somehow, we succeeded.
Sport 1: What feedback did you get from your personal environment and from the USA?
guardian: Each player received countless messages and lots of congratulations. There were numerous reports in the press, not only in Germany, but also on ESPN, for example. This creates reach and that's what we want to achieve, especially for sports in the United States. Handball in particular has been overshadowed by major sports such as baseball, basketball and soccer. Our goal is to continue promoting this sport until the 2028 Olympics.
This is how Patrick and Ian Hutter came to the American team
Sport 1: What is your family background? Where did you grow up and how did you come to play for the USA National Team?
guardian: Like my brother, I was born and raised in Neuss. My mother is an American citizen and is from San Francisco. So we have dual citizenship. The US National Team was contacted through Daniel Eggert, our former teammate. He's Danish and played with us in Dormagen. At that time he was in contact with one of the top officials of the time, Mark Ortega, who was always looking for new players. That's how we connected and trained with the US National Team for the first time in mid-2018. We've been there ever since.
Patrick Hutter holds dual German and American citizenship
Sport 1: What does your daily handball routine look like as a second division player for TSV Bayer Dormagen in Germany? Are you a professional there?
guardian: Yes. In addition to a few students, our team is largely made up of players who play handball full time. We have between six and eight training sessions per week, depending on whether it is English Week or not. (News: Everything you need to know about the World Handball Cup)
Sport 1: But you don't just participate in the active area of your club, right?
guardian: exactly. In addition to handball, I work in sales and mainly work on obtaining new sponsors and supporting existing collaborations.
“The World Cup is now the icing on the cake.”
Sport 1: Does the World Cup seem like another world?
guardian: Everything here is very professional and well organized. We have a beautiful hotel in Jönköping. Logistics including transportation to training worked perfectly. During the games we are also provided with drinks, fruits etc. And you can tell that this is a different event than what happens in our daily lives. In addition to this, the media presence of the World Cup is what you will notice.
Sport 1: What does it mean to you to experience this with your brother Ian?
guardian: that means alot to me. I also play with him at TSV Bayer Dormagen. We started working in the USA together in 2018 and have seen a lot since then. You travel a lot, especially with the national team, which is a very positive aspect. Together we have the Pan American Games, Nor.Ca. The tournament qualifiers and World Cup were great experiences. The World Cup is now the icing on the cake, and the dream of almost every handball player is to participate there and in the Olympic Games. (Data: Schedule and results of the 2023 Handball World Cup)
Such is the case with Donlin, Haynes and Reed
Sport 1: Team USA is full of unique personalities. What's it like to play with a space officer, RTL show star, and former quarterback?
guardian: That's great. The three mentioned are players who learned the sport in America, but also played in Europe for a few years. At the time when they are playing handball, they are in very good condition. For example, Andrew Donlin, who is in the Air Force, has made tremendous strides. He played for Adhemar Leon in Spain for two years. Ty Reid, who worked at the SG Flensburg-Handewitt academy for several years, was a midfielder in soccer. Then there's Gary Hines, who was in “Ninja Warrior” and “Take Me Out” and played in Germany's third division for a long time. It's always fun to see the boys again because they have great personalities.
Sport 1: Are these exceptional men different in any way or are they players on the handball field like everyone else?
guardian: They're teammates like everyone else, they're not crazy about it or anything like that.
World Cup main tour? “We want to beat these teams too.”
Sport 1: What else do you have planned as a team for the rest of the tournament?
guardian: We achieved our first big goal by beating Morocco. Hopefully we can reach the second round. Against strong teams like Egypt, we want to try to continue as best we can over the course of 60 minutes. Of course it will be difficult, but we want to be able to say afterwards that we gave it our all. If we reach the second round, we will face Denmark against two of the three countries: Belgium, Tunisia and Bahrain. We want to beat these teams too. (Data: Handball World Cup groups and tables)
Sport 1: What goals are you still personally pursuing in your career, and could they change with this World Cup?
guardian: I would like to continue gaining experience. The World Cup is now a completely new tournament and I'm really happy to be involved. As for the future, that remains to be seen. I feel very comfortable in Dormagen. I have my family and home there. My brother and I still had a one-year contract after the season and didn't think about it any further.
Sport 1: You don't have any ambitions in the German League?
guardian: Yes, you always want to improve further, and as a competitive athlete, you should also aim to play at the highest level. It would be best if he makes it to the Bundesliga with TSV at some point. This is not a short-term goal for the club, but promotion should be targeted in the medium or long term. But of course I like the first German league.
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