By Mick Holien
In My Opinion I’ve had a chance to see and in some cases play against the best of the northwest’s handball players.
And while I made it up a bit above novice status, the challenging sport’s lowest level, to a low B level, I saw the cream of the crop mainly because of the location of Spokane’s best facilities at the Elks and Spokane Club.
You see I worked about 100 yards down the street and let’s just say that allowed for extended lunch breaks against fellow employees like Jerry VanBelle, Jerry Skogstad and Greg Bever-sorry guys
Thus it was sad last week to hear of the untimely death of maybe the best ever who happened to be an area player.
My pal former UM physician Doc Curry and Bill Speltz at the Missouiian reported 42-year-old David Chapman, whose parents live in Frenchtown, died unexpectably last week in his home of O’Fallon, Mo.
He No-1 ranked player from 93-04 and 08 to 2011, he won 37 national titles, and many world singles and doubles titles, said his Dad Fred, a heck of a player himself.
You see handball has a lengthy tradition in this area nod especially in Butte.
The late Bill Peoples teamed with UM head hoop coach at the time Jud Heathcoat to win the NCAA National Doubles Tournament, Jud’s first of two titles in separate sports, an NCAA record, and teamed with Missoula’s Robin Peters to dominate the sports for decades till they moved to the Masters where there also was no equal.
I never was fortunate or even good enough to be on the floor against Chapman though I have often seen the power and almost unequaled proficiency of his game. His ability, like most top players, to power the ball – it’s called a kill – to where the floor meets the front wall time after time made it highly unlikely you were ever going to get the ball back to serve and dominant shutouts were common.
But besides being a superior athlete who was recognized world wide, David, like his old man, was more than willing and able to talk about anything.
And to look at Chapman one would never know of his long term dominance of the sport – RIP David. We’ll miss ya. Just sayin’