Former Flame selected for women’s national handball team

Courtney Heeley

Courtney Heeley trades softball for a new sport when she heads to Auburn, Alabama, to train with USA Team Handball. Photo: Timothy Nguyen/UIC News

Former softball player Courtney Heeley is ready to excel in a new sport.

Heeley is the only former UIC student athlete selected to compete for USA Team Handball. She was picked for the women’s national team at the Women’s Residency Program tryouts in Auburn, Alabama.

“I feel so honored to have this opportunity to continue playing sports and represent the United States,” Heeley said.

“I already miss the camaraderie of being a part of a team and pushing each other to be better athletes. There are a lot of nerves since it’s a new sport for me, but I am excited to get to Auburn and join the team.”

Handball combines the skills and rules of water polo, soccer and basketball.

Although she’s experienced in softball, soccer and volleyball, Heeley didn’t start her new sport until she was recruited by the national team.

She practiced with the Chicago Inter Women’s Handball Club at Northeastern Illinois University and trained with Nick Zostautas, UIC head strength and conditioning coach. She also competed in a beach handball tournament with members of the women’s national team and the men’s German and Polish teams.

As a member of the women’s national team, Heeley will train year round and play in national and international events.

“We are so proud of Courtney for taking the chance to pursue something that a couple of months ago she didn’t know much about,” said head softball coach Michelle Venturella.

“Team handball is a great sport that not a lot of people know about. Because of Courtney’s athleticism and game-sense, I think she will continue to pick up the game and excel so she can compete at a high level.”

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