Yvonne August was atop her game in 2004 when she won a 4 wall national singles tile in Portland, Oregon. Three years earlier, she nabbed the four wall doubles trophy with Priscella Shumate in SoCal (2001); and twenty years ago (1995), teaming up with Beth Rowley, she took a Toledo, Ohio three wall doubles plaque back home to Central California. Through all of the titles and time off from tournament play, she raised a family, started her own business, but continued to play handball …and, stay in shape! This week, August, now in her late forties, is fit for a return to professional handball, and will make her comeback complete when she makes the trek to the Olympic Club in San Francisco alongside ESPN, the World Players of Handball and the top Women players in the game.
Earlier this week, we had the chance to sit with Yvonne August, for a very quick chat between a cardio-kickboxing session and a handball training match, as she preps for her big return.
by Dave Vincent
DV: It seemed that the mid 90’s to mid 2000’s was your handball era. When you were on top of your game, you were held in the same regard as Lisa Fraser Gilmore, Jennifer Schmitt-Roberts, and Anna Engele-Christoff, to name just a few. And then, you suddenly left the game. Explain to me what happened. Why did you leave?
August: The 90’s was a great decade of handball in my life David, and in 2004 it was also a big year for me in many aspects of my life. I won the national championships that year, as you know, I bought a cafe that year, but most importantly, my children were all under the age of five, so I felt it was time to leave the game, that I very much loved, to focus on which I felt was going to be the biggest change in my life. A new business, a young family …there would be no time to play handball and travel like I did. I retired in 2005 and a very hard choice it was.
DV: Okay, so have things changed that now allows you to return to the game? More specifically, how are you able to play in the upcoming San Francisco Race Stop, I am sure you are still busy??
August: More specifically, now that my children are older, I feel I have more time to play handball and I am loving it!
DV: When I would go to handball tournaments, from the 90s to mid-2000’s, and from afar, I noticed instantly that you were one of the most competitive athletes on and off the handball court I’ve ever seen. Lupe Alvarado-Bike, whom you competed against on the 90’s tour, said you were aggressive and competitive, but also a winner. I also recall you being very straightforward and honest. You speak your mind and we’re blunt. Has this competitiveness in you changed since your layoff?
August: No, since my layoff the competitiveness in me still remains, I’ve always had that fire in me, it fuels and drives me to be the best athlete and person I could be on and off the court.
“Yvonne is an amazing athlete and one of the most naturally gifted handball players I know. She is also one the fittest players to play the game. Yvonne was one of my most feared rivals. She is a fierce competitor, I knew every time I stepped on the court with her it would be a battle. I’m excited for her return to tournament play and wish her the best of luck.” – 11-Time National Singles Champion, Anna Engele-Christoff
DV: What other sports or workouts have pushed you since you left the game 10 years back?
August: I have always been athletic, but after leaving handball in 2005, I started Kickboxing with Team Brewer Karate in Hayward, California, for a few years. I then started instructing a Cardio Kickboxing class while living in Saint John, US Virgin Islands, in 2011. I also ran a few half marathons on other islands. I definitely remained active.
DV: I might be wrong in saying this, but I’ve always believed that you belong to a fraternity that is quite special. You may be involved in one of the biggest handball families on the planet. I’m not sure how many people realize this, but you could hold a handball tournament with just people in your family. How important is it to have something so in-common with those that you love the most?
August: It’s very special to be part of a very big handball family, my family has always been very supportive of me in all that I do, it means a lot when you have people on your team who are there and who want to see you succeed in life, and it was always easy to find a game. 🙂
DV: You currently play in one of the strongest, most close-knit handball groups in the Country; Fresno, California. I’ve witnessed this myself [since we are talking about support], as the locals really do step up and give you games and help you get better. Can you expand on this?
August: Yes, I would say that Fresno has a very close-knit group of handball players and families. I moved here last January, 2014, and started playing again a few months ago, the guys at the Center Point Athletic Club have been really supportive, it’s never hard finding a game, they are just happy that their California Girl is playing again.
Yvonne August will be thrown into the fire come this Friday, February 13th, when she plays her first tournament in a decade [and almost 33 years since her very first tournament in 1982]. August will be featured on ESPN and the WatchESPN app when she tackles the women’s quarterfinals from the Olympic club in San Francisco alongside the WPH Race4Eight Pro Tour. You can watch LIVE at www.race4eight.com. More details? Contact us: email@example.com
Watch the full Video Preview, HERE:
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