DES MOINES HANDBALL: A LONG, PROUD, HISTORY.
John Carr and Ken Konkol founded the Des Moines Hinder Club around 1950. At that time handball was played at the old YMCA located at fourth and Keo. There were many players and only four courts. Two of the courts were built on the roof and had no air conditioning and little heat.
The first official Tallcorn Handball Tournament was in 1949. Since there were only four courts, entries were limited to 16 singles players and 16 doubles teams. The Tallcorn name came from a YMCA volleyball team that was popular at the time.
In 1957 the YMCA moved to the corner of 3rd and Locust. The original design was for eight courts—four on top and four on the bottom. However, not enough money could be raised, so a heavier foundation was not constructed to support all eight and the top four were never built. .
During the 60’s racquetball became popular and the demand for courts continued to increase. In the late 60’s four new Plexiglas courts were added to the Y. About ten years later another four were completed. The Des Moines YMCA now had eight beautiful handball courts!
After the Y had completed eight courts in the early 60’s the Tallcorn Tournament really became popular. At that time the Dallas Invitational was considered the best and oldest tournament in the US, and it attracted the top players. Ken Konkol and the Hinder Club wanted to make the Tallcorn as good as the Dallas Invitational. With twelve courts the Des Moines Y was an excellent location and many top players participated.
The Des Moines Hinder Club has produced several national champions: Chuck Housman, Bill Luftman, Curt Heiting, Steve Johnson, Tom Kopp, Joey Petersen, Jesus Moran, and Jim Hartzell. In December 1998 and 1999 Joey Petersen won the 11 and under division at the National Juniors tournament. Nick Ira won the 1999 National Three Wall 13 and under division. Joey Petersen also won the 13 and under division at the 2001 National Juniors tournament and at the 2002 World Nationals. More recently, Jim Hartzell won the Doubles Nationals in 2008 & 2009. Jim also won the Doubles Worlds in 2009.
The Tallcorn attracts players largely from the Midwest, but also from coast to coast as one of the longest consecutive years running handball tournament in the United States.
Des Moines handball players and the YMCA have worked together to teach and promote this great game. The Hinder Club is over 60 years old and its members all share the camaraderie and good times associated with handball.
On January 1st, 2015 the DSM Hinder Club/ YMCA moved to our new home on the corner of 5th and Grand in downtown Des Moines. We are all very excited about our new Wellmark YMCA facilities and the state of the art handball courts. We feel very fortunate that the YMCA built 8 new courts, and this only happened with numerous hours of meeting and negotiation along with a major fund raising effort.
Here are some fun facts about our new Wellmark YMCA:
- $30 million project
- 84,000 square feet – the largest YMCA in the world
- 1/8 running track
- 2 basketball courts
- 8 handball-racquetball courts
- 2 squash courts
- yoga studio
- group exercise studio
- cycliing studio
- 66 pieces of cardio
- free weight area
- functional fitness area
- 7,519 members & average 30,500 monthly scans (2015)
To all visiting players–if you’re are ever in Des Moines and looking for a game, stop by the Y for a game. On Wednesday evenings, Saturday mornings or week-day lunch hours, you’ll always find handball players.