March - April 2003
Vol. 14, No. 2 | Contents
Why We Play
by Randy Stafford

create a legacy
terms of endearment
donate online
download .pdf form
the donors
Open Level ($5,000 & up)
Doug Dickman, Mo.
Randy Stafford, Tenn.

Elite Level ($1,000 & up)
Bruce Adams, Okla.
P. Sue Beckwith, Iowa
Doug Ganim, Ohio
Susan L. Klimaitis Foundation, Ill.
Annie Muniz, Texas
Ed & Holly Remen, N.C.
Curtis Rettke, Va.
Chuck Rousenberg, Fla.
Cam Snowberger, S.C.
Luke St. Onge, Colo.
Jan Stelma, N.C.
John Vohland, Colo.
Stacey Young, Va.

A Level ($500 & up)
The IRT [see box below]
Carmen Alatorre-Martin, Va.
Curtis Alatorre-Martin, Va.
Mark Bianchi, Okla.
Jeff Burbank, Mo.
Heather Dunn, Mass.
Joe Houck, Colo.
Bob Lerow, Fla.
Linda Mojer, Colo.
Russ Montague, Pa.
Andy Roberts, Tenn.
Robert Schattner, N.J.
Ernesto Tan, Ill.
Tom Travers, Ohio

B Level ($250 & up)
Phil Cohen, N.M.
Woodrow Gibson, Ind.

C Level ($100 & up)
Luis Alvarez, N.Y.
Pete Dean, Colo.
David Hendricks, Ariz.
Dick Kincade, Colo.
Andy King, Ariz.
Hector Topete, Calif.

D Level ($50 & up)
Glenn Allen, Va.
Anthony DiCianni, Ill.
Barbara Faulkenberry, Ga.
Bob Goldbetter, N.Y.
Greg Mandell, Ill.
Doug Smith, Ga.

Total donated to date = $72,890

Of that total, anonymous donors (including a generous “kick-start” of a $25,000 matching gift), have contributed $35,350 to the cause, all without formal recognition. Special thanks go out to those “mystery” givers!

want to donate 
as a group?
The IRT passed the hat ... and you can too. Just take up a collection to donate in the name of your league or club. We can’t offer the “perks” individually, but your group will be listed among the campaign donors, in the level that you reach. Then, if you provide us with a list of who took part, we’ll publish those names on the USRA donor webpage. 

“Team IRT” Donors: Alvaro Beltran, Devin Cannady, Rocky Carson, Eugene Coyle, Ben Croft, Mike Dennison, John Ellis, Ruben Gonzalez, Mike Green, Mike Guidry, Jack Huczek, Nick Irvine, Dan Llacera, Jason Mannino, Sudsy Monchik, Javier Moreno, Dave Negrete, Brian Pointelin, Derek Robinson, Cliff Swain, Jason Thoerner, Josh Tucker, Shane Vanderson.

Until recently, the question of “why we play” wasn’t one that I thought about much. I started because it was fun and convenient, good exercise, competitive, and offered great camaraderie. Everyone has their own reasons for participating in one of the greatest individual sports ever created … and lately, I’ve tried to think more about “why we play” in the larger sense.

True competition is a large part of racquetball. Many of us came from other sports, like football, baseball, basketball, track or maybe swimming. The sports we played when we were kids were part of our heritage, where we competed one-on-one and team-against-team. The feeling that we can experience when competition is at its highest level can’t be matched in any other type of activity. You win or lose, depending on your skill level, endurance, strategy, or perhaps just your own extra kick of adrenalin at a crucial moment. That will to win, and fight just a little harder until nothing is left, is an incredible feeling. Until you have experienced it, it’s impossible to describe, or replicate with any other activity.

Then, at some point in your life — for whatever reason — you happen to pick up a racquetball racquet, and there is that feeling all over again. With true competition, it’s all about love for the battle, the war between you and your opponent. They react, you react. They hit harder, you hit harder. They use a different strategy, you change yours. They counter, you adjust your attack.

With racquetball, we’re back in the hunt, something we experienced as a kid, and we can continue to enjoy these feelings for the rest of our lives. During a game you are sweating, moving quickly all over the court, stroking the ball, watching your opponent, trying different serves, working his backhand, splatting his ceiling balls, driving the ball down the line or hitting the pinch at just the right time and low enough to score the point. And better than just scoring, you made your opponent run after the ball really hard, just one more time, chasing a passing shot that was just out of reach. You love to watch them tire, when you’re on top of your game. We all know how great that feels.

Racquetball is quite unlike most any other lifetime sport. Take tennis for instance. The skill level required to have fun and get a workout is very high and hard to attain. Then there’s all that apologizing to the people on the next court! Golf is competitive in a different way, since it’s main goal is just to improve your own score, against the course. Jogging is about time and distance, aerobics is about repetitive motion — and none of these has ever brought a smile to my face.

With most workouts, people will finish and immediately go about their business and leave. But after an hour (or two, or three) of racquetball, players will sit or lie on the floor, exhausted, but still wearing a smile. And there’s even that “secret language” that makes you part of the club; outsiders have no idea what we are talking about when we refer to certain shots and serves. Not many sports offer such a great way to socialize while you exercise, with the added benefit of being blissfully unaware that you’re even working out. This is because it’s too much raw fun to even notice the exertion until it’s all over!

In the “off-tournament” season, my mental approach to the game changes and I don’t play quite as hard or practice quite as much. Then racquetball becomes more social for me, and I may play a game or two and sit out before getting back on the court. It’s more leisurely, but I still want to win, just maybe not quite as badly. I still receive all the same benefits: in an hour I can get all the exercise I need and finish with a smile on my face, win or lose.

Racquetball has a place for all types of players, from the tournament-tough “take no prisoners” type of person, to the recreational player who just enjoys running around with friends. Either way, win or lose, you have found your lifetime sport. Whatever your psyche permits, your level of competition, your willingness to run and do battle, or even your level of skill, racquetball offers you fun and fulfillment.

Players know what I am talking about: that during-and-after “high” we get is why we play the game. As warriors at whatever level, this feeling only comes from competition. It’s you against them, one-on-one or two-on-two, within the confines of the court and the rules of the game, our equipment and the limits of our bodies. When it’s all working in sync, we have achieved an exercise high that we wish we could enjoy everyday. Nowadays, I realize how special my court time has become. I no longer take these times for granted, but feel privileged to have played such an incredible sport for so many years. If you’ve ever felt this way, then you know exactly “why we play.”

So what does all this have to do with fundraising? I wish I could tie it all up in a nice convenient way that would endorse our ongoing “players helping players campaign, but I am not even going to try. I will say one thing though: If you can relate to any of what you’ve read here, then I appeal to you to please assist us in helping other players enjoy the same benefits that you’ve received from our great sport. I ask you to think about all the great times you’ve experienced through racquetball and make a donation that shows how much it’s meant to you. We urgently need your support to do the hard work ahead of us. Large donation, or small, we need to hear from you. Please do whatever you can to help secure a brighter future for the sport we love.

create a legacy of giving ... 
This first phase of the fundraising campaign is truly designed for players, as you can see from the special "gift list" that offers a great package of benefits, from top to bottom. When you take part, you'll be supporting the association with a donation that practically pays for itself in real value, plus it’s tax-deductible!


Level Gift What you'll get ... 
Open  $5000 Ten-Year National Event Pass, plus all shown below
Elite  $1000 Five-Year National Event Pass [+ lifetime membership, frame, hat & racquetballs]
$500 Lifetime Membership SPECIAL* [last-chance pricing!]
B $250 Frame [+ U.S. Team hat & racquetballs]
C $100 U.S. Team Hat [+ commemorative racquetballs]
$50 “Players Helping Players” commemorative racquetballs

• National event passes entitle the holder to free entry to any USRA National event (including U.S. Open, Nationals singles or doubles, National Intercollegiate or Junior Nationals) for the term noted. 
• *USRA Lifetime Memberships will be increased to $1000 in 2003 — take advantage of the current low price. 
• “Player’s helping Players" commemorative racquetball balls will be produced in a limited edition by Penn and will bear a special stamp of the campaign slogan. A collector's item, they will only be available to campaign donors. 
• All donors will receive a letter detailing their tax-deductible contribution.

terms of endearment ... FOUNDATION GIVING (RESTRICTED): Gifts to the "USRA Foundation" will be deposited in a capital fund, with the intent of building a working cash account which will generate interest income in the long term. Funds are restricted, and may not be used or spent directly — only accumulated — for the purpose of establishing financial stability for the association's future.

PLANNED GIVING (RESTRICTED): You can create a “Legacy of Giving” in a number of ways, through: Charitable Remainder Trust (charity receives assets of trust at the expiration of the trust); Wealth Replacement Trust (used with CRT, replaces value of assets given to charity); Charitable Lead Trust (pays predetermined percentage of trust income to charity); Family Foundation (tax deduction for donations made in future); Donor Advised Funds (immediate tax deduction for contribution). There are numerous other methods of estate giving that your financial advisor can assist you in planning. For more information, contact your financial advisor, or send an email requesting more information, or call 800-234-5396 for a complete list of estate options. 

SPECIAL SUPPORT (RESTRICTED): Gifts may be earmarked for specific support (i.e. junior development, U.S. Team, LPRA) in any special-interest area of your choice.

GENERAL FUND (UNRESTRICTED): Gifts to the "general fund" are the most flexible, and valuable, in the short-term. Your unrestricted gifts enable the USRA to work toward reducing a sizable deficit, or it might just help us pay the light bill.

DONATE ONLINE!  Or use the card enclosed in the mailed November/December edition to give us your instructions [or download a .pdf hard copy of the card].  Please take part in this ambitious campaign to put the USRA on firm financial footing ... for the future of racquetball. Thank you!

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