WPH Interview Series: Jerry “Bear” Vicencio

Posted on Jun 25 2024 - 2:26am by DV

WPH Outdoor Interview Series

WPH Press

Pasadena’s Jerry “Bear” Vicencio has established himself as one of big ball’s elite, regularly challenging for big ball handball’s most important titles in Southern California. The Bear acquired his fitting nickname as a kid, nicknamed Bear because of his aggressive nature during competition. Now 29 years old, JBV has been playing handball multiple times per week for seventeen years.

JBV started playing handball at the age of twelve at Washington Park in Pasadena, CA, the place he still considers to be his home court. Washington Park was just five minutes from Jerry’s childhood home and became like his backyard. Jerry was motivated to start playing handball by watching the older guys at the park, in addition to watching WPH Outdoor legend Boxer Rosales. “I would always play against “The Chicken,” Mario Castro,” stated Jerry. “Mario taught me how to play.”

Now living in Los Angeles, Jerry plays all forms of big ball handball, to include 3-Wall, 4-Wall and 2-Wall. “What I love about handball is that no matter what day it is on the court, you can always learn something new, as in how to read new shots,” stated Jerry.

Unlike most handball players who veer outside of handball to name their favorite athlete, Jerry proudly refers to big ball’s all-time great Samzon Hernandez as his favorite athlete. “Samzon is my favorite athlete because when I started playing handball I heard about his name always being mentioned with the big ballers,” recalled Jerry. “My motivation was always to defeat Sam, even though I didn’t know who he was. I would always think in my head, ‘I am coming for Sam.’ So honestly, if it wasn’t for Sam, I probably would have been getting into some serious trouble in life because of how I grew up as a youngster. But thankfully it played out well and I stuck to handball and here I am.”

Jerry takes pride in his aggressive, leave-it-all-on-the-court style, while always respecting his opponents and the game. “My handball game stays aggressive and with my heart out,” stated Jerry. “Always give it my all when I take it into serious matters because that’s how the guy who taught me how to play was. I learned from him.”

Like all handball players, Jerry has his favorite and most inspiring tournaments. “I’ll never forget the tournament Tony from Bristow Park hosted in 2012,” recalled Jerry. “I’ll never forget it because I was just 17 years old and it taught me a valuable lesson for the rest of my handball career. That’s when I knew I loved handball for what it was. I took home that first place trophy and the prize money. I still have that trophy today.”

Jerry’s inspiration to play handball is his opponents. “My greatest handball rival was Samzon but that changed the day I actually met him and we became like brothers. As of today, I don’t have rivals. I just cherish the good competition.”

To stay sharp and challenge the game’s best, Jerry plays weekly training games with Ivan Chapa and Oscar Siordia.

When discussing the best player in the game, The Bear again mentions Samzon. “The best 3-Wall player I have ever seen play the game has been Samzon Hernandez, THE GOAT because I got to see him run up the whole rack of players that were super good and he still came up on top,” stated Jerry. “Right now, I think Oscar Siordia is the top player in the game.”

Handball fans can see Jerry in action at the August 17-18 WPH Outdoor Ice Bowl in Tucson, where The Bear finished third in his last Clark Park start in 2022. “I’m looking forward to the WPH Ice Bowl tournament in August,” exclaimed Jerry. “First, I must train my mind. From there the list goes on.”

Enter the August 17-18, 2024 WPH Ice Bowl HERE

More WPH interviews HERE

David Fink

WPH Senior Writer

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