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‘Curly’ Carswell receives USHA Kendler Award

In keeping with handball tradition of fast-action, fun, food, and festivities, the third annual Honolulu Doubles Handball Tournament was held on Oct. 29-30 at the Nuuanu YMCA in Honolulu.

The Nuuanu YMCA Handball Committee also hosted the 2016 Robert W. Kendler Award ceremony outside on the waterfront at Nashville Waikiki in the Aloha Tower Market Place that Saturday evening.

Donn “Curly” Carswell, former owner of the Kauai Athletic Club and sponsor of the Kauai Open Handball tournaments, was the recipient of the award.

Unbeknownst to some of the players, Carswell was a star football guard at Punahou School and Stanford University in the 1950s. He even achieved All-American status at that position.

The United States Handball Association Robert W. Kendler Award is given to the player or supporter of handball for outstanding, unselfish service to the game of handball on a regional level. 2010 was the last time this recognition was awarded.

Carswell started the Kauai Open Handball tournament at KAC in the fall of 1986. Eventually, players came from Japan, Alaska, Pacific Northwest, California, Midwest, and Southwest. He hosted the 1990 and 1998 USHA National Masters’ Doubles tournament.

His last tournament was in 2007, but his legacy was continued with the Kauai Handball Association’s Hana Hou Handball Makahiki from 2008 to 2011.

Curly loved all the players from Kauai and the Mainland, but most endearing to him was Team Japan managed by coach Shigeru Nobeta. Besides the team’s shirt exchange with eye-catchy designs, the Japanese team added spice to the skit/song competition at the yearly tournament party.

Nobeta had a special congratulatory telegram from the Japanese team delivered to Honolulu. Hiramoto was chosen by the committee to read the message which was embellished in a padded booklet, instead of the proverbial Hollywood small piece of paper. Then Carswell led the toast to the Japanese team with three deafening “Banzais.”

There were thirty-four players from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado and three islands.

The Perpetual Toughness Award plaque with the bronzed shriveled-up handball glove made by Chuck Malley (who was one of Carswell’s charter handball members at the KAC) was polished by retired top player Brian Davis and flown over by Olson Airways from Kauai. Mike Olson mentioned that since there is one more space for another recipient, it should go to Curly again.

To summarize the award and Donn Carswell, Malley’s son Justin Malley, scholar athlete of Mid Pacific Institute, Notre Dame, and Arizona State University says it best: “I was introduced to handball my senior year of high school at KAC. Almost 25 years later I still love playing the game and socializing with other handballers. I can’t wait to teach my (twin) boys the game … when they are old enough. So they can learn everything from handball that Curly and the KAC gang taught me. …The welcoming hand. The encouraging words. The post match potlucks and camaraderie. The grit and toughness to play through aches and pains. And the humility to realize age and wisdom trumps youth, vigor, and cockiness in this sport — unless the youth works hard and stays patient to “catchup” one day. And even the occasionally awkward group photo. Mahalo for all that, Curly, and for making KAC the place it could happen.”

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