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Sahuarita police officers play handball with students

Posted at 8:07 PM, Sep 14, 2023

SAHUARITA, Arizona — In the Wrightson Ridge K-8 school in Saharita, there is a wall, a ball, and several students.

"At recess, they call it wallball," said Bryan Naranjo, a 7th grade student.

Sahuarita sargeant James Oviedo and a few officers are here to teach Bryan and others about handball, beginning with a demonstration.

"I'm really glad the Sahuarita police department can not only protect us, but also teach us a sport," said Naranjo.

It's a coaching session that is about more than just this centuries old sport.

"Helping them managed a game them helps them manage their social skills while they're on the playground," said Naranjo.

The handball event is part of a community engagement initiative, as the police department makes a connection with students.

"For law enforcement, we'd rather see them here in a good way, rather than down the road," added Oviedo.

Oviedo actually grew up playing handball on courts outside New York City. NYPD officers would stop and play the sport with him.

"That always stuck with me in my mind," said Ovideo. "Naturally, now I'm a police officer, so that was a big influence."

Oviedo can now pay it forward to this generation in southern Arizona, where the Handball Hall of Fame is located.

"They're humble and bonding with one another," said Naranjo.