Monday, March 28, 2022 | 5:20 PM
Belle Vernon’s Viva Kreis tries to drive past Southmoreland’s Olivia Cernuto on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022.
What started as a curious activity in gym class turned into a chance for Viva Kreis to represent her country.
A junior at Belle Vernon, Kreis was recently selected to play for the USA Women’s Junior National Handball Team that will compete next month against Mexico, Puerto Rico and Canada in Mexico City.
A basketball player who also runs track and cross country, Kreis has developed skills for a fourth sport.
“My team handball journey actually started in middle school gym class where I first played an adapted version of the sport with Mr. (Ryan) Shetterly, who referees a lot of my basketball games,” Kreis said. “Since then, I have been just trying to find places to play the sport, which isn’t easy because it isn’t played in our area.”
Kreis trained with a men’s club in Pittsburgh, and it was there she heard about the junior national opportunity.
She applied to the USA Team Handball Youth Advisory Council and was accepted, giving her a platform from which to spread the word about the game.
I’m super excited to represent Team USA! ????????????????♀️ https://t.co/ZZLEWtgEvp
— Viva Kreis (@VivaKreis) March 26, 2022
Handball is a 7-on-7 sport where players try to score into a net — think soccer played with hands instead of feet.
Kreis has an administrative role in addition to being a player.
“I got the job,” Kreis said. “Our goal is to educate the younger generation about the sport through social media. I work primarily on developing our TikTok account, and I was even able to create a video with a two-time US Team handball Olympian when I visited the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs.”
The council spot led her to a training camp in Boston with adult players. From there, she moved on to a tryout for the junior team in Chicago shortly after basketball season ended.
Kreis missed a basketball game so she could play in a beach handball camp.
She showed at the Chicago camp that she could play competitively and was selected.
“The coach told me he had minutes for me in Mexico,” Kreis said. “I am beyond excited to play on a team with girls of this caliber. Many of them are dual-citizens living and training in other countries (Sweden, Norway, Germany, Canada and Mexico among them). Others are playing on college club teams. I think there are three of us that are still in high school.”
Kreis will live and work out at the Olympic Training Center in Mexico City.
The North America & Caribbean Handball Federation competition will consist of four games against Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. The top two teams will advance to the World Junior Handball Championships in Slovenia this summer.
“Needless to say, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to represent Team USA,” Kreis said. “It is a middle schooler’s dream come true.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
Tags: Belle Vernon
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