May - June 2003
Vol. 14, No. 3 | Contents
A True Story
by Randy Stafford

"Players Helping Players" Campaign CLOSES May 31
... Hurry and take advantage of the "perks" in this phase! In June, we'll still welcome your donations, but not with these special benefits "in exchange" for them!

terms of endearment
donate online
download .pdf form
lifetime members

the donors
Open Level ($5,000 & up)
Doug Dickman, Mo.
Scott Hirsch, Fla.
Randy Stafford, Tenn.

Elite Level ($1,000 & up)
Bruce Adams, Okla.
Jaime Anaya, Calif.
P. Sue Beckwith, Iowa
Tony Feldstein, Colo.
Doug Ganim, Ohio
Jason Hicks, Ky.
Larry Hicks, Ky.
Eric Jubin, Texas
Susan L. Klimaitis Foundation, Ill.
Annie Muniz, Texas
Geoff Peters, Ill.
Ed & Holly Remen, N.C.
Curtis Rettke, Va.
Chuck Rousenberg, Fla.
John Sanderson, Utah
Cam Snowberger, S.C.
Luke St. Onge, Colo.
Jan Stelma, N.C.
John Vohland, Colo.
Janice Vosika, Wy.
Stacey Young, Va.
Kevin Young, N.C.

A Level ($500 & up)
Richard Aitken, Tenn.
Carmen Alatorre-Martin, Va.
Curtis Alatorre-Martin, Va.
Mark Bianchi, Okla.
Jeff Burbank, Mo.
Donna Cooper, Texas
Ralph Cuesta, Fla.
Tom Curran, Ohio
Heather Dunn, Mass.
Joe Houck, Colo.
Tom Kirchner, Mo.
Bob Lerow, Fla.
Dave Letche, Colo.
Michelle Lichtman, Va.
Jim McPherson, Texas
Steve Meltsner, Conn.
Linda Mojer, Colo.
Russ Montague, Pa.
John Rhodes, Colo.
Jeff Riehl, N.Y.
Andy Roberts, Tenn.
Robert Schattner, N.J.
Peggy Stephens, Ky.
Ernesto Tan, Ill.
Tom Travers, Ohio
Jen Yokota Sheldon, Mo.

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

C Level ($100 & up)
Luis Alvarez, N.Y.
Pete Dean, Colo.
Jim Garner, Ala.
David Hendricks, Ariz.
Jeff Jovien, Ill.
Dick Kincade, Colo.
David Stark, N.Y.
Hector Topete, Calif.
Bob Townsend, S.C.

D Level ($50 & up)
Glenn Allen, Va.
Shirley Barron, Ky.
Anthony DiCianni, Ill.
Barbara Faulkenberry, Ga.
Ken Fife, Va.
Bob Goldbetter, N.Y.
Greg Mandell, Ill.
Victor Scammell, Jr., Texas
Doug Smith, Ga.
Gary Walter, N.Y.

Total donated to date = $97,790

NOTE: The names of donors whose gifts were received after the print issue deadline [March 15] may not appear in the May/June edition. This list is current as of May 5, 2003.

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.

For those of you that have been following this fundraising campaign, you know that it is titled “Players helping Players” but you may not know the real, tangible reason that this name was chosen. Over the years, I’ve seen many examples of players helping players in many different situations. Perhaps you know of a special case, or even better, you may have helped a player in your own unique way. There are, easily, hundreds of ways to help a fellow player, some direct and some indirect. 

I know people that have volunteered — literally for decades — by running a juniors program, a tournament, camps, clinics or even assisting a local organization. Maybe you drove a shuttle for an event, coached the kids during summer camp, or stopped to show a new player the rules and hit with them for a while. Whatever your reason, the effort didn’t go unnoticed. You obviously impacted the people who received your help, and showed them that another person cares and wants them to benefit from racquetball, just like we have for so many years. Doing your part to help another player brings joy in your own unique way. 

I am sure that we all have our own stories about how we, or someone else, helped another player along. Or maybe we were on the receiving end of someone truly going out of their way to help, and it changed our life forever. This actually happened to me, and I have never forgotten the efforts that were extended to me. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself, so please allow me to start from the beginning and share my story with you. 

It was the summer of 1973 and I was 18 years old. I had been playing racquetball for about five years and I was pretty good, or so I thought (as most of us did at that age). My family had moved to Canada, way up in Northern Alberta, where I spent my summers while I attended the University of Tennessee. The only problem was there were no courts in Grande Prairie and I really missed racquetball for those three months. It was my second summer away from the courts in Tennessee, and I can remember finding an old concrete wall where I could go and hit balls and still practice my game. 

One day I heard about the Klondike Open, scheduled for July in Edmonton, about 400 miles from where we lived. I was excited that, way up here in Canada, I could go and play a tournament! So off I went with my parents (we all made the long drive) to compete in the Klondike Open. 

It was very exciting. Racquetball was just starting out, but this particular tournament was very well known, and drew all the big names from the U.S., like Brumfield, Strandemo, Serot, Keeley and many others. The first pro tour hadn’t even been created yet.

I lasted through several rounds, and was beaten pretty handily by one of the big names. I had actually had met most of the players at previous events in Memphis and Louisville, Kentucky, so it was nice to see everyone, compete, watch all of their matches and go to the parties, which were lots of fun. 

Near the end of the weekend, one of these well known players asked if I was interested in traveling back to San Diego and staying at their home for several weeks to work on my game. Well, as you may know, in the early 70’s all the best players were based in San Diego, and it was the place to go and train if you were serious about racquetball. I was taken aback by the invitation and really didn’t know what to say. I was just 18, and it was a huge step for me to do something like this. I asked him if I could get back to him within a week and let him know. 

Traveling back to Grande Prairie, I pondered what I should do. I was in Canada for the summer and was having a great time. I had saved up about $500.00 to buy a sailboat, and now had to decide between it or using the money for airfare. I made the decision to go to sunny California and play racquetball before returning to college. To me, it was a trip of a lifetime. 

I remember arriving at the airport, being picked up by my benefactor and taken to his home. While unpacking, he asked about all the coolers that I’d brought with me. I told him that I didn’t really have a way to pay for his hospitality, but that I could at least provide some food and do a little of the cooking. A few weeks earlier, I’d shot a bear and a moose, so I’d packed about 50 lbs of meat in those coolers. For the next three weeks, I cooked up tasty bear burgers and moose stew for my host. 

So there I was, my first trip to California, staying at a player’s home, learning from one of the sport’s best and being able to live my dream. I can remember playing at the first George Brown’s racquetball club, traveling up north to a tournament at Chabot University, in a Volkswagen driven by D.C. Charleston. We played in LaHoya every day and then went to the beach with all the top players. I even went to the original manufacturing plants of Ektelon and Leach during my stay. After three weeks I was very sorry it had to end, but back to school I went. The following summer, I returned and relived the entire experience all over again … minus the bear and moose meat, though. 

The point of this story, after so many years, is to show the affect one individual can have on another. This benefit didn’t even occur on the court, but the result was really a life changing experience for me. Not only did it propel me forward in my playing, but I gained a strong sense of what I wanted to do as an occupation. I remember graduating with a plan to be in the racquetball business, somehow, and I’ve now been building racquetball courts all over the world for 27 years. I can’t say exactly at which moment, or why, this career decision was made … but one thing is for sure, if I had not visited San Diego those two summers I would not have gone into the racquetball business. Who knows what I might be doing now, if I’d used that $500.00 to buy a sailboat instead of airfare to California. 

The unselfish act by this person, in trying to improve my game among the best players of the time, helped propel me toward growing up and becoming who I am today. He truly was a player helping a player, not expecting to receive anything in return. Trust me, he did not invite me to visit because he suspected that I was a great cook who would arrive with 50 lbs. of bear and moose meat! 

We do not know just what the end result of any of our actions will be. It may be just as simple as warning a kid in the next court to always wear eyeguards, and then lending them your extra pair. It could be to spend some time with a kid (like me back then), teaching them the game during their summer vacation. Personally, I feel I can never do enough to repay what was done for me when I was younger.

Each of us can help. I urge you to volunteer, work a tournament, teach a kid, donate gear to a camp, assist with a summer camp, or even donate money to our campaign. USRA programs help other players, just like you and me … so any donation, large or small, is what counts. We believe the same way you do and will make the most of your donation; that I guarantee to you personally. As we go down this path of life, I encourage you to pick an area of interest and do your part to help out. I believe racquetball is a good cause and individually we can make a difference. Our sport truly needs your help. 

Now to finish up my story … I was so lucky, for so many reasons, that I was picked by this person and offered that opportunity. My game improved, I met many lifelong friends, saw sunny California, and grew up from a kid to a young man during this time. This person was my hero; he gave me a gift that I could not buy, and certainly did not deserve. In his mind, he was only doing what I have been trying to convey: he was only a player helping a player. By the way, his name was Dr. Bud Muelheisen, one of the sport’s founding fathers, and a star in racquetball’s Hall of Fame. Thanks, Dr. Bud, for your gift. 

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 March/April 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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