San Mateo Elks Lodge
Inducted as a Contributor in 2015
by Bill Conlon
Adolescence is a time of promise and peril, when youth explore what it means to be an adult, and seek to assert independence. So it was for young Roy Bukstein, as he rooted through his father’s closet, only to find something that would change his life forever:
His father’s handball gloves.
Roy’s hands couldn’t fill his father’s gloves until he started sneaking into the college field house in Cape Giradeau, Missouri, where Roy graduated from high school, to smack that hard black ball.
Roy kept on playing in college, first at Penn, and then at SMU, including at the Dallas YMCA against Buzz Shumate. He continued in graduate school at the University of Texas Gregory Gymnasium. After a hiatus to meet and marry Kathy, move to the Bay Area and father Josh and Katie, Roy put the gloves back on and has been playing ever since.
Along the way, Roy and I teamed up as doubles partners, and we travelled and played together at the four-wall Nationals, the Masters Doubles, the World Championships and many, many tournaments. We were definitely the team to beat!
And everybody did.
After we finished refereeing, we had plenty of time together off the court. And that is how I got to know about Roy’s support for handball at both the national and local levels. Here in Northern California, Roy twice served twice as President of our Handball Association, and for more than two decades has been our Treasurer and Membership Chairman. For years, he has helped to put on play days for juniors, our Regional Tournament, this Hall of Fame Tournament, and was captain of the San Mateo Elks Lodge team in our Bay Counties tournaments. He has folded, stapled and mailed our Scoop newsletter, solicited boosters, and cajoled people for memberships.
You probably don’t know that Roy has also been a frequent financial contributor to our handball community, because he prefers to work behind the scenes. Because he often gives his donations anonymously, I am not at liberty to give you the full list, so instead I will highlight Roy’s generous donations to underwrite professional video productions, which helped to put handball in the national spotlight.
Roy supported the first nationally televised pro handball match, John Bike vs. David Chapman at the Royal Athletic Club in Burlingame. He was there again when the first USHA documentary film was produced and aired on ESPN to celebrate 150 years of Handball in America. And when he was asked to help fund the first and only TV production of the USHA Collegiate Finals, back in 1998, Roy funded the entire project from start to finish. And all he got for it was this DVD.
Handball players are a rare breed. But rarer still are the contributors who help to sustain our small community. That is why we are here tonight to induct into the Northern California Handball Hall of Fame:
a true competitor, a great Contributor, one of the most generous people I have known, my good friend Mr. Roy Bukstein.