Slam Dunk of a Career

Al “Hondo” Handy positively impacted thousands of local youth during his career at the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department

Written by Alison Clary  /  Photography by Grant L. Gursky

After 39 years of loyal service to the Town of Ocean City, Albin “Hondo” Handy, who played a pivotal role in the extensive progression of the town’s recreation department, is retiring. Hondo has served in many roles throughout his employment, most recently as recreation manager, but perhaps his most memorable designation is as one of the community’s most respected and beloved individuals.

As competitive indoor soccer games carried on behind him, Hondo candidly and humbly summed up his feelings on ending his nearly four-decade-long career.   

“It’s been an honor to work for this community. I’ve enjoyed coming to work every day, and I’ve been lucky to be given the opportunity to work with so many wonderful people and businesses.”

Hondo’s roots run local, having grown up in Bishopville and Berlin. Hondo credits his high school and his college basketball coach, Ward Lambert, with sparking his interest in physical education and serving as an early mentor. Hondo graduated from Salisbury University with a degree in physical education before briefly moving to Harford County and accepting a long-term phys-ed substitute-teacher position. This led to his involvement in working summer camps, for which he identified an immediate desire to pursue further.

Hondo returned to his Shore roots, and he became an official employee of the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department in 1980.

“I tell my kids to think before they act. Always be kind. Always remain positive. I hope they remember.” — Al “Hondo” Handy

“In the early days, we mostly only oversaw the upkeep of the few local ballparks. It’s unbelievable how far we’ve expanded since then,” shared Hondo.

Hondo recognized the value that recreation could add to a community in both economic development and community-health improvement. He worked tactfully to develop the department to its fullest potential and played a role in several significant expansions, including the addition of the Northside Park facility. As the department grew, so did the number of recreation opportunities available to the community.

“When I first started, there was only one summer camp offered. Now we provide 83 summer camps, which are available to both locals and visitors to the area,” shared Hondo.

Hondo also established local tournaments and sporting events that bring crowds into town, thus benefiting local business. Hondo’s leadership and commitment to the area’s well-being have been consistently recognized by the community. He has received countless awards throughout his career, including the 2004 Citizen of the Year in Ocean City, by the Ocean City Elks Lodge, and the 2015 Ocean City Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year, among others.

Hondo said that his retirement will afford him more time with his wife of 30 years, Regina. He plans to play more golf and travel to warmer destinations. He also intends to finish writing two memoir-style books, which recount his time growing up in Delmarva and detail the ups and downs he’d experienced along the way.

Though Hondo is leaving his formal position, he insisted he will remain a lifelong supporter of the Ocean City Parks and Recreation Department. “Throughout all these years, I’ve promoted this department wherever I went. I will always continue to do so,” he said.

When asked about the legacy he wishes to leave behind, Hondo shared his hope that the community will remember the strong emphasis he’s placed on sportsmanship.

“I tell my kids to think before they act. Always be kind. Always remain positive. I hope they remember this.”