Savin Hill man among world's best at handball
Ron Lescinskas has no coach and no big name sponsors. He scouts for discounted air tickets and flies alone to compete in the national handball tournament, which offers no prize money.
He plays for the love of the game.He learned to play as a youngster growing up in South Boston, and he plays it better than most people in the world.
"It is such a great game," said Lescinskas, who has been playing since the age of 10. "It is one of the most challenging sports and a great stress reliever."
Since his marriage to Dorchester native Diane in 1994, Lescinskas, 41, has called Savin Hill home. Armed with a master's degree in business administration from Northeastern University, he is currently the chief financial officer at Neohapsis Inc., a Cambridge-based information technology risk management company.
In handball, players hit a small rubber ball against one or more walls, and players are grouped according to age. In the 58th US Handball Association national tournament held last month in Ohio, Ron Lescinskas won the men's singles masters and the men's doubles titles in the age group of 40+ in the 3-walled championship. He has been inducted in the Hall of Fame of USHA in Tuscon, Ariz. He has won a total of four singles and two doubles national championships.
Lescinskas said he is grateful to his mentor, Steve John, who introduced him to the game at the L Street community center in South Boston years ago. "I was fortunate to be part of Steve's youth program," he said.
Ice hockey was his "primary sport" when he went to school at Salem State College, where he obtained his bachelor's degree in business administration. But the physical and mental benefits of handball kept him hooked.
Lescinskas continued to compete in local and national championships. "Keeps you in good shape and is a good work out." He said handball helped him in social networking and to meet people from diverse backgrounds.
Lescinskas is self-trained and never had a coach.
"It is a challenge," he said. "It would be great to have a coach throughout."
He trains himself by reading online materials on the game. He refers to the website of USHA to learn better techniques. His younger brother, Brian, who had the opportunity to be trained in Lake Forest College, Illinois, passed along the skills and tips he learned.
"The primary challenge is playing around a job and family life," he said. He said his wife and his daughters, Alexa, 11, Neghan, 10, and Ella, 4, have a big role to play in his success. "Whenever I am playing, my daughters check the scores online and send me text messages."
To stay fit he eats smart, lifts weights twice a week and runs regularly, mostly up and down the steep inclines around Savin Hill.
He practices handball at least 4 times a week at the Boston Athletic Club, but tries to play most of the games on weekends and holidays.
John McDonough, 45, who has been playing handball with Lescinskas for the last 20 years, said, "Ron's skills, dedication and mental ability is a powerful combination, and makes him a great athlete." McDonough said Lescinskas wants to work for the benefit of the game and serve the community.
Lescinskas is an active member of the St Ann's Church and is involved in the Project D.E.E.P to serve children with special needs. His eldest daughter, Alexa, is diagnosed with global development delay.
Lescinskas knows the game he is so passionate about is not as popular in Boston as it is in the boroughs of New York City. "Handball can be a difficult and challenging." It may take a couple of weeks or months to learn the basics. He said if the schools offer scholarships it would encourage young kids and popularize the game.
Lescinskas said he is "very excited" about starting a youth program in South Boston to train children between ages of 6 and 14. "Because the facility is there and it can accommodate the program, I am looking forward to teaching the basics of the game."
He said he would ask USHA to donate gloves and balls. "I hope other players from Massachusetts will tutor the kids."
Dorchester has no handball courts. "Handball will be a great addition, and an alternative sport for the local youth," Lescinskas said.
He is willing to volunteer and introduce the sports to the youth if the community makes the effort to set up a court.
According to John McDonough, who grew up in Dorchester and is currently a resident of Milton, "Handball, also called the perfect game, will be terrific for Dorchester. It is very inexpensive, all you need is gloves and balls," he said. The sport would offer the youth a great workout as well sportsmanship lessons in life. "I will surely find time to help Ron instruct the kids," Mcdonough said.
Any fundraising that Lescinskas does now will not be for the benefit of his sports career, but to popularize handball among the youth.
"As a Dorchester resident, I want my daughters to have a place to play the sport," he said.