An Experiment Turns into Annual Event
By Pasini Withanage
In 2012, CSI’s Intramural Director Sal Caruso partnered the intramurals with Wall Ball World, a non-profit organization, to kick off the first ever CUNY-wide Handball/Wallball Tournament at CSI’s Sports and Recreation Center.
Registration was free to all CUNY students and Caruso recalled a turnout of about 20 students, a quarter of which were CSI students.
“It was exhilarating to see so many students from different CUNY schools get together to play one sport,” he said. “Even kids from schools like LaGuardia came all the way to Staten Island to compete.”
The founder and CEO of The United States Wall Ball Association Inc. (Wall Ball World), Jasmine Ray, attempted to make the collaboration with CSI for years but was not followed up intil Caruso took the initiative to welcome the new idea.
It was a single elimination tournament that was open to male and female players. There was a men’s doubles category and a women’s bracket.
An exhibition game was played between Team USA and Team Puerto Rico to kick things off.
The event was sponsored by the Municipal Credit Union Bank, along with Redbull and Ektelon, which provided the handballs. Officials for the game were handled by Wall Ball World.
Caruso was active behind the scenes, organizing the presentation of awards. Prizes included gift cards from Barnes and Noble for the winner and runner up and trophies and medals for the other winners.
Robert Lee from Hunter College and Tony Ferruggia from Queensborough Community College won the men’s doubles contest and Heather Edell and Jane Chen, from CSI and Kingsborough, respectively, took home huge trophies from the women’s games.
CSI student and participant in the 2013, 2014 championships Amir Ismail, mentioned that participants value the experience more than the prizes.
“It’s a very competitive scene and it’s seriously nerve-wracking. Everyone is here to win,” he expressed, “but they are also very friendly because they come together to play a sport that they love.”
Caruso made sure that all participants were given free t-shirts, preventing no one from going home empty-handed.
“I have never played or attempted to play handball ever in my life,” said Caruso. “But I keep seeing kids playing handball all the time and I thought, ‘Why not host the tournament again?’”
Since the first tournament was a success, Caruso and Ray decided to make the event an annual championship. The tournament is held during the fall semester in November.
With Caruso’s network and Ray’s enthusiasm, they have plans to grow in the future, contemplating to start offering academic scholarships to the winners of the championship.
“We’re planning to expand, even out of CUNY and make it a college-wide Handball/ Wallball Championship, hopefully starting in the Tri-State area,” Caruso expressed.