Trio of Sal Sabres secure spots on national junior handball team

Sal Sabres Cassidy Hartwick and Lacey Shultz are two of three Park players from the school who have made Team Canada’s National Junior Women’s handball squad. Photo Supplied

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It says something about a program when three girls from the same high school in Sherwood Park, of all places, manage to crack the national team.

It also says something when it isn’t the first time a Park school has seen success like this.

Following in the footsteps of the Bev Facey Falcons handball team from earlier in the decade that saw numerous members of their team make provincial and national squads, it is now the Salisbury Sabres’ turn in the spotlight.

It was announced that three Sabres — Cassidy Hartwick, Lacey Shultz and Crystal Pullishy — had made Team Canada’s National Junior Women’s squad (players born 2000-2001) which will compete at the International Handball Federation North America Cup world qualifying tournament in Montreal in October.

It shouldn’t come as a major surprise when one considers the epic run the Sabres put together last season, a perfect 31-0 this season, winning tournaments at their own school, St. Peter the Apostle and Harry Ainlay before advancing to the provincials, where they defeated Lillian Osborne 38-17 in the final.

That Sabres squad was coached by Alberta Team Handball Federation head Mike Nahmiash, who said he is delighted to see the trio earn Team Canada berths.

“The teams invited are the USA, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Canada, Martinique, and Guadeloupe,” he said. “Sal has a great handball program which is developing very good players right now. This is huge for these girls. Having the chance to qualify for the world championships and play against the best countries in the world, that is a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity. They have a good chance of making it to worlds. Just that whole thing of wearing the Team Canada uniforms and the anthems and all of that, it is a really cool experience and opportunity.”

Nahmiash said all three Sal standouts are more than deserving of Team Canada spots.

“Cassidy is now playing professionally in Germany, leaving four months ago straight out of high school to do that,” he said. “She plays back and is one of the top players in Canada. Lacey just started with the Alberta program about six months ago. She has a great amount of potential and very quickly went from playing pivot for Alberta to making the national team. Crystal is a goalie who has spent three years with the Alberta program. She has worked hard and has gotten better every year. She is one of the best goalies in Canada now for her age range.”

Nahmiash expects even more members of last year’s Sabres squad to have good news on the Team Canada front in the coming weeks, even if an official announcement has yet to be made.

“There is also a U-17 tournament that will be happening at the same time and there are more Sal girls that will likely make that national team,” he said. “There could be as many as three to five that could make that squad from Sal.”