Local teacher to play team handball in 2016 Olympics

Created: 02/21/2014 5:38 PM
By: Steve Mieczkowski,

The road to the Olympics can take surprising detours.

For one local woman, the road takes her through an Albuquerque high school and into a sport where she never competed before and ultimately, to the U.S. Olympic team.

Deanna McGillivray teaches Phys Ed at Highland High School.

These days, you'll find her coaching a group of energetic students in the eye-popping acrobatic sport of parkour.

But that's not where she started, and that's not her final destination.

This Olympic story starts with rugby.

As a member of the U.S. national team, she failed to qualify for the Olympics.

She thought the dream was over, until she was inspired by Albuquerque's young people.

The students had been teaching each other parkour tricks, and the "Hard-Core Parkour Hornets" club was born.

Next: The desire to start a handball team at Highland.

McGillivray reached out to a national coach in Alabama to get help with resources for a new team.

Deanna McGillivray/Highland High School Teacher

"He said, 'Oh, we got a tryout coming up here. Come fly over and check it out.' I went for just an experience, not expecting anything. And by the end of the tryout the coach was just like, 'Yeah we want you!'," McGillivray said.

Committing to Team U.S.A. means leaving New Mexico this summer for a residency training program, and ultimately to Brazil in the 2016 Summer Games.

Team handball has been part of the Summer Olympics since 1972.

The American women's team has never won an Olympic medal in handball.

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