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The kings of the handball court

But what's the secret to their success? Is it a coach who has known nothing but winning or a player who is the best in the country in his age group?Both.Anthony Grimm has had the luxury of coaching senior Billy O'Donnell in the coach's first three seasons - a player that is the defending Under-17 Junior National Champion for one wall handball.Or maybe O'Donnell has had the privilege of being coached by Grimm for the past three years. Either way, Terriers handball has not seen this dominant of a team since the 1970s when Prep had 11 straight undefeated seasons.Not only has St. Francis Prep won three consecutive city titles and gone undefeated over the past three years, there has not been a single team that has sniffed victory against them since Grimm took over. Out of the 85 games the Terriers played this year inside their 15 matches, they won 83 of them - most by a wide margin."I'm upset that we lost two games this year," said O'Donnell, who will be playing at NCAA handball powerhouse Lake Forest in Chicago starting in the fall. "I was looking to leave every single person (I played) on zero."Now if they can only agree on the main reason why they have been so successful."He's just determined to get us better, to make us who we are (as players and people)," O'Donnell said. "He spends money on us. He does everything for us. He's just a great guy. I'm going to miss him a lot when I go to college."Added senior Kenny Maldonado: "Mr. Grimm is a very good coach. We just responded to him (when he took over). As a coach, you don't want to let him down. He's a great guy."Grimm has other designs on why his team has been so successful, namely O'Donnell."It's really all Billy," Grimm said. "From the moment he set foot on the court you could tell how good he was."Grimm, who has taught religion at St. Francis for 10 years, said that O'Donnell has led by example as this year's senior captain and the other players have followed his lead and learned from him."I just happened to (start coaching) the team when Billy started playing," said Grimm, who has had a great deal of success coaching the St. Francis chess team as well. "And I say thanks to God every day (for O'Donnell joining)."It seems like the battle of coaches' influence against players' influence will not see any resolution on Francis Lewis Boulevard.But maybe there is at least one more source worth listening to - O'Donnell's father who also happens to be Grimm's assistant coach."(Grimm) is a great coach," Eddie O'Donnell said of the coach, who seems to have the Midas touch. "There's a reason why everything he does he succeeds at."Reach contributing writer Marc Raimondi by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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