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May 10, 1991 - Image 62

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-05-10

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Champion David Rott, at age 62, credits
handball with keeping him alive.


Special to The Jewish News


avid Rott has won
many trophies in his
33-year handball
career. In February, Rott and
partner Jim Golden won a na-
tional senior doubles cham-
pionship in Phoenix. In
March, Rott won a local
singles tournament. But
handball has helped Rott win
an even greater victory — life.
In the past 17 years, Rott
has suffered through three
bouts with cancer. There are
many factors: which helped
Rott survive, but he believes
the excellent physical condi-
tioning he has achieved
through handball was a
prime factor.
Rott's refusal to give in car-
ries over to minor setbacks.
is He continues playing hand-
▪ ball at age 62, despite his ill-
zo ness and despite. undergoing
▪ arthroscopic surgery on both
Fellow handball enthusiast
David Rott gets set to
Alex Cooper calls Rott "a ter-
rific inspiration for people
who do anything athletic, or
for people who don't do a
damn thing that's athletic.
His determination and will
are a real positive influence
on a lot of folks. He's a terrific
role model."
During Rott's third bout
with cancer three years ago,
he had to undergo radiation
treatments and physical
therapy. "It's not uncommon,
if you exercise a great deal,
and you stop, that the
deposits, calcium deposits, in
the shoulders and so forth,
want to lock up," he says.
"Consequently, I could have


FRIDAY, MAY 10, 1991

very easily quit, but I didn't.
I played in a national tourna-
ment while I was going
through radiation and
physical therapy, an outdoor
national three-wall tourna-
ment, a few years ago. And we
won the tournament, in
doubles, my partner (Golden)
and I.
"It's just a question of just
doing it. Force yourself to
overcome these obstacles that
will beset anybody. Just make
up your mind to do it. Limit
your intake of foods that are
not good for you. And don't
give up entirely. Just kind of
have.a proper balance of life."
- A proper balance is some-
thing Rott admittedly did not
have before he started playing
handball. As a young man,
Rott kept fit via a weightlif-
ting program. But he aban--
doned that program by age
25. At age 30, Rott was
overweight and smoking
A former employer had in-
troduced Rott to handball. At
age 30, Rott decided to take
up the sport as the center-
piece of his fitness program.
In stark contrast with his
later attitude when facing
cancer, out-of-shape Rott
struggled as a beginning
handball player.
"I thought I was going to
die because I couldn't
breathe," he recalls. "Then
finally, I started to lose
weight; I quit smoking and I
developed into a fair handball
It took him seven years to
become a "fair" player —
"fair" apparently meaning
one who is capable of winning
national championships in

singles and doubles, in three-
wall and four-wall tourna-
Handball is played on a
court which is 20 feet wide, 40
feet long and 20 feet high.
The four-wall, or indoor court,
has a ceiling and back wall
that are missing in three-
wall, outdoor courts. The
rules are the same as in rac-
quetball, but handball uses a
smaller slightly heavier ball.
"We have a lot of clubs that

has helped
ott through three

have young handball players,"
says Rott, "but they're not
necessarily into every area.
They congregate together
because they want to play.
There are several youngsters
coming up, but not as many
as racquetball.
"Racquetball is a good
sport, but handball's tougher.
It's harder on the hands. It re-
quires full body movement —
both arms are used, whereas
- in racquetball, you just use
one arm:'
Rott says handball reached
its peak in popularity among
Jews after the Depression.
"People didn't have money, so
a lot of Jewish boys played
handball._ It was extremely

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