Farewell, Sol Aber

My friend and coach, Sol Aber, passed away Wednesday at age 88. I met Sol about twenty years ago, when he was already a handball Grand Master (he ultimately won 20 National titles). Over the years, I encountered Sol at local and national tournaments, including the World Championships in Chicago, often with his ever-patient wife Estelle. Sol was quite the raconteur, and Judith and I greatly enjoyed company over the years, and especially his stories about his tenure as a rabbi.

In addition to being a top player, Sol was a great teacher. He was kind enough to help me fix my handball mechanics; since then I’ve gone from chonic pain to injury-free playing. Sol’s approach to the game made sense to me as an engineer, the slightly closed stance, contact point in front of the back hip, level swing through the hips, and follow-through to impart a natural hop. And of course, “where the ball goes, the nose goes.”

A few years ago, I was honored that Sol asked me to be one of his assistants at his handball camp at the Central YMCA in San Jose. We followed his approach, as outlined on his DVD, to teach the perfect game to 24 boys and girls, who had never played before. It is a testament to Sol and his approach that none of the kids missed a day, despite the extraordinary difficulty of learning a new game requiring hand-eye coordination, agility, and endurance, with the ever-present the risk of bruised hands.

My favorite moment though was in 2004 when Sol was inducted into the Northern California Handball Hall of Fame for a second time. (He had been previously been inducted in 1993 for his playing). As President of the NCHA, I had the opportunity to preside over the ceremonies as we recognized his many contributions to handball, especially his coaching of new players at San Jose State University and the Central YMCA in San Jose.

I’ll miss him a lot.

2 Responses to “Farewell, Sol Aber”

  1. Peter Sias says:

    I was coached by Sol at San Jose State. I just found out of his passing yesterday (4/9/08). I am deeply saddened to hear the news. Sol was a kind man, working till his last days. I will forever miss him. And I will always have the memories. RIP Sol. One love!!!

  2. bill says:

    Sol’s funeral was packed with family and friends, especially handball players. To me the most telling statement of Sol’s lasting impact and influence were the dozens of kids standing in the rear of the chapel.

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