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chris tico

Olympic Club 
Inducted as a Player in 2023


Submitted by Chris Tico:

I was born in San Francisco. A Sunset district kid with 3 younger siblings (Alex, Minerva and Nate). Our Mom, Dori, was amazing, including somehow keeping it all together with very little financial resources. She had the resources that mattered though (love, kindness, common sense, etc.). Our 'Pop', Tom, was a really good athlete. We played lots of sports since we were very little kids.

They got divorced (not messy). He lived in The City and we visited and spent time with him until his passing many years later (the same week as our Mom's). Our Dad-to-be, John, was around since we were young as well. So overall we grew up with lots of love

and support.

I started playing handball at 16 years old. Somewhat randomly because there were courts in Golden Gate Park where we used to

hang out. Probably 1985. My brother Alex (1 year younger) and I played with some kids about our age and some older guys

(high teens, low 20s). We played with the hard ball without gloves and I don't think most of us even knew gloves were part of the


One day at the park Dennis Berger came by with one of the Olympic Club junior handball players. Dennis was handball director

at the OC at the time. So we played a few games. Afterwards, Dennis said "a handball player ought to have gloves." So he gave

me a pair and said to call him if I wanted to come play at the Olympic Club. So I called, got a job at the basketball gym there,

started playing a lot, then basically got a membership given to me.

In December 1986 the Olympic Club sent me and some other players (Larry Haskell, Matt Schroth) to the Junior Nationals in

Atlanta. I played 17 & under and won my first round 11-10 tie-beaker against a kid from Canada (Michel Audet). Then lost

something like 21-4, 21-6 against a top Irish player, Peter McCauley. I couldn't believe the serves he was hitting and thought he

had special gloves that made the ball hop. Coach Mike Dau from Lake Forest College was at the tournament and introduced

himself to me. He invited me to come visit the school.

In September 1987 I started school at Lake Forest College in Illinois. Later that school year we won the Collegiate National Championship. Lots of really good players and great friends on the team (Larry Haskell who had come from the Bay Area too,

Matt McLaughlin from Iowa, Rich Hoff from Chicago). Some good women's players too (Gina Ross, Paula Piepho, Caroline Jansing).

In the summer of 1988 the 4-Wall Nationals were in Berkeley. I was 18 and played 23 & under. Got lucky and upset the

#1 seed, Mike McDonald, in the quarterfinals (now one of my oldest and best friends). He had forgotten his shoes, so I'm not sure what/who's he borrowed. That probably made the difference because I think it was 21-19, 21-19 or something super-close.

I won the next round (Alfred Amaral), then lost to Craig Denhart in the finals.

In May 1991 I graduated from Lake Forest College then came back to San Francisco. After 4 years with all-time great coach Dau,

some really good players, and lots of tournaments, my game had improved significantly. Though it still took 5 more years before I qualified for my first pro stop in Chicago. I got past Jaime Paredes who was older by then, but still a big win for me. Then Bob Adrowski to qualify (maybe 21-15, 21-19). Late in the match his elbow was bleeding from a dive or something. Seemed like

every time he swung blood sprayed all over the court and glass sidewall. We kept playing. Different era, I guess. We just focused

on the game.

I qualified for pro tournaments a lot after that, or at least enough to reach #10 in the rankings. Got invited to some pro stops too.

Never won a round of 16 pro match though. Lots of good qualifier wins (e.g., John Bike in Austin) and pro consolation wins

(e.g., Sean Lenning in Dallas). Also won the 35+ National Singles in 2005, 2006 & 2008. Much of that success was from playing

really hard practice matches against Dean Crispen, Mike McDonald and Emmett Peixoto. Dean and I would always have close

matches. We also have a friendship that goes back to schoolyard basketball games at Francis Scott Key as low teens or younger.

Mike and I would often play for dinners. Not sure we ever had a major argument in the court, but it was always a real/serious

match.  Emmett, who hit #1 in the world at one point, would (years later) spot me ~16 points. Then 15 if I won or 17 if he won, etc.

$5 a game. The money was so small it didn't matter, but it made for super-competitive, can't afford to miss many shots handball. 

In 2006 I got married to my wonderful wife, Wendy. Moved from San Francisco to Berkeley. I was still playing pro handball then. In 2009 our daughter Morgan was born. I stopped playing shortly thereafter to focus more on our family. In 2012 our son,

Sawyer was born. An amazing wife and two great kids - can't ask for more.

In 2015 I played the National Masters in Anchorage, Alaska. Won the 45+ after not having played too much the previous five years. (Pretty light draw.) I started playing more thereafter. Won National Masters Singles titles in 2017 (Denver 40+), 2019 (Tucson 50+), 2021 (Nashville 50+) & 2023 (Tucson 40+).

In August 2020 my family and I moved from Berkeley to Sandpoint, Idaho. We love it here. Also have a great group of handball guys (and now good friends of mine) who play at the Litehouse Y.  Monday and Wednesday afternoons if you're ever in town!

Some people I'd like to thank...
- My Mom for being amazing and for driving me to countless handball tournaments when I was a teen (and probably older).
- The rest of my family (too many to name) for being great people and for all of their love and support.
- Dennis Berger and Mike Dau.
- Al Sandoval for teaching me, including how to hit a reverse.
- Vic Aissa, Joe McDonald, Al Chaparro, Lou Barberini & Bernie Samet for helping me get into and settle into the Olympic Club.
- Dean Crispen, Mike McDonald & Emmett Peixoto for being lifetime friends, for countless good times, and for all the tough

- Sean Buckley for being a great friend and for doing so much to support handball. 3-wall at Lake Berryessa, handball

and then his boat, flying us to Portland, etc.
- Lennart De LaTorre, Sean Haley, Loren Collado and James Komsthoeft for all the good times and for many tough matches.
- Lots of Irish handball players beyond just these (Joe Tierney, Tom McGrath, Paul Brady for showing me how to train, Tony Healy

for super-politely telling me some of the things I was doing wrong).
- The USHA (Vern Roberts, Matt Krueger), WPH (Dave Fink, Dave Vincent) & NCHA (Tom Sove, Mike Linnik, etc.) for giving us

reasons to train.
- The Sandpoint handball players (Ryan Luttmann, Eric Plummer, Bruce and John Sletager, Tye Barlow, Chuck Gause, Jim Russell,

Chad Finch and the rest of the crew), including Pete Svennungsen for driving 90+ minutes from Spokane for our Friday night


Submitted by: Mike McDonald & Chris Tico:

Chris Tico biography of achievements:
1 Collegiate National Team title - Lake Forest College, 1988 (Palatine, IL) 
Coach: Mike Dau.
8 United States National Masters Singles titles:
35+ 3x - Cincinnati 2005, Baltimore 2006, Houston 2008
40+ 2x - Denver 2017, Tucson 2023
45+ 1x - Anchorage 2015
50+ 2x - Tucson 2019, Nashville 2021
1 California State Championship Open title 
(finals vs Anton Wilson, Fresno, 2001)
Top 10 pro; ranked pro for about 15 years (1996-2010)
Tournament singles wins against many pros and top players including. ..

Jamie Paredes & Bob Adrowski in Chicago to pro-qualify for the first time (1996)
John Bike (pro-qualifier in Austin)
Richard Lopez (Santa Rosa)
Dave Fink (Portland)
Matt Hiber (Olympic Club)
Naty Alvarado Jr (SoCal tourney)
Sean Lenning (Dallas)
Emmett Peixoto (Minneapolis)
Tommy Little (Milwaukee Open)
David Silveyria (Olympic Club pro-qualifier)
Pete Crouser (Kansas City pro-qualifier 2002)
Dane Szatkowski (Kansa City pro-qualifier 2002)
Stephen Cooney (Olympic Club 2017)
Ranked NorCal #1 by NCHA "The Scoop" April 1996 (by Rich Dunne & Bernie Samet) 
Multiple NorCal Open Singles and Doubles titles.
Golden Gate Park (with Dean Crispen).
NorCal Hall of Fame tournament 2x with Allie Abdulla
2001: (Rich & Mike Dunne semis; Dave Wyrsch and Mike McDonald finals)
+ 2004.
2005 HoF with Emmett Peixoto beat Dave Wyrsch and Lennart De La Torre.
South End with Ricardo Diaz.
San Mateo Elks with Dave Wyrsch.
San Mateo Elks with Mike McDonald.
Gilroy 3wall with James Kohmstoeft 2001 (vs Norm Dunne & Bob Winter in Finals)
Parkpoint with Danny Solorio.
Sacramento with Mike McDonald
Olympic Club Ringer Doubles with Gary Beaver
7 Olympic Club Open Doubles Championships with 3 different partners (Emmett Peixoto, Mike McDonald, Dean Crispen)
2002 with Mike
2003 with Dean (21-20 tie-breaker vs Emmett & Mike McDonald)
2005 with Emmett Peixoto
2014-2017 with Emmett Peixoto (21-20 tie-breaker vs Erik Torres and Dean in 2017).
Olympic Club 1996
Pleasanton Super Bowl - 2x, including 1996 - Anton Wilson.
Santa Rosa 2001 (Allie Abdulla)
Modesto 2002 (Andy Schad & Allie Abdulla)
Other non NorCal...
Seattle Washington Athletic Club doubles championship (with/mostly Emmett Peixoto) vs Sean Lenning/Marcos Chavez reigning USHA National open (pro) doubles winners.
Milwaukee Open Singles 1999 and 2001
2001 Palm Desert
Kauai Open Singles (1) and Doubles 1-2x? with Mike McDonald.
New Orleans pro stop: open doubles with Emmett vs Allan Garner & Lance Wacholtz in final.
Atlanta pro stop: Open doubles with Emmett vs Sean Lenning & Lance Wacholtz in final.
2022 Spokane Lilac: Open Singles (53 yrs old; 4 rounds)


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