July - August 2003
Vol. 14, No. 4 | Contents

RB: People

Award Winners
Marketing Director Hired
Ladies Day Shootout
Traveling League Soldiers
"Patriot"s in Saudi
Midlands Challenge II
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Yokota-Sheldon wedding photos
USRA Annual Award Winners
Presidential Awardee: Laurel Davis
Each year the USRA recognizes an outstanding state association leader with the Presidential Award. Full USRA compliance in regards to sanctioned tournaments, solid membership base, quality newsletter, and an outstanding website are all criteria for selection. This year's winner was Illinois State President Laurel Davis.

Illinois has an exceptional junior program that consistently has players finishing high at national and world events; it also ranks fourth in the country in overall membership with 818 current members.

"While all of our volunteers devote a lot of personal time and energy directing the efforts of their respective state associations, Laurel Davis and the board members of IRSA far exceed the annual requirements to maintain their affiliation status of the USRA and have earned this annual recognition," said USRA Membership Director Kevin Joyce. "Hats off to Laurel Davis and the ISRA Board of Directors."

Joe Sobek Outstanding Contributor: 
Claude Crocker

The Joe Sobek Outstanding Contributor Award is given annually for athletes, coaches, officials, and administrators who have demonstrated, over the course of the year, an outstanding commitment to the sport of racquetball. Claude Crocker from North Carolina was this year's recipient for his efforts with the USRA and the LPRA tour.

Throughout last season, Crocker generously supported both the USRA and LPRA in an effort to help promote the sport from behind the scenes. The Charlotte, N.C. LPRA stop has become one of the most successful and lucrative tournaments of the year, and both associations are very appreciative of the time, effort and resources devoted by Claude to assure the event’s success. 

John Halverson Fair Play Winner: Dan Sheppick
Dan Sheppick was deservedly tapped to receive the John Halverson Fair Play Award this year for his exploits during the World Junior Championships last year in Orlando. The award is given for an exceptional gesture of fair play carried out during the year by an athlete, team member, or spectator — and his actions more than fit the bill [see the March/April edition for a full account]. Congratulations to the youngster, who was not in attendance in Houston, but will be "re-awarded" his plaque at Junior Olympics.

USRA Hires Director of Marketing
[ Top ]
The USRA recently announced the hire of Ivan Davis as Director of Marketing and Sponsorship Sales. The new post was created in response to organizational efforts to increase the national governing body's sponsorship base.

Davis spent 17 years in advertising sales with Xerox and The Wall Street Journal and got his first experience in the sports market as the Manager of Marketing for the New York Yankees. He also added to his professional expertise through stints with the Sports Channel, the Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals, and the United States Olympic Committee [USOC] before coming on board with the USRA.

"There was a need here (with the USRA) and the USRA was ready to make some changes under Jim Hiser's new direction," Davis explained. "They explored their options and I happened to be one of them."

Davis plans to strengthen the organization on three fronts: to build a brand that is worthwhile to the membership, establish ties with all forms of media, and provide value in sponsorships.

"We want to be sensitive to the needs of our members and sponsors," Davis said. "We need to make companies feel that we are helping them grow."

Davis attended his first racquetball event at National Singles in Houston, where he familiarized himself with the sport and its top players.
Ladies Day Shootout
by Bruce Adams
Top ]
The women's program of the Oklahoma Racquetball Association held a successful Ladies Day Shootout that drew thirteen ladies from Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas [pictured below right]. Some of them traveled almost three hours to meet at the Cushing Community Center (about 45 miles west of Tulsa) for a fun day of fellowship and round-robin racquetball.

Door prizes were given away to all ladies at the free promotional event; pizza for lunch also brought smiles to their faces; and an Ektelon demo table was set up for those wanting to try out and purchase the latest equipment. Husbands, children and other visitors were on hand to help cheer the ladies on to victory. A lot of camaraderie and laughs could be heard from state champions, to a beginning player (Charissa Sulerhi) in her first week. Jane Neel had only been playing a month. Old friendships were rekindled when Chelo Gavin ended a five-year hiatus from the game. She had gotten burned out on tournaments, but she not only had a great time but played very well.

Three round-robin divisions kept everyone busy; the very first match in the B/C division between Sandra Lewis (Independence, KS) and Becky Smith (Duncan, OK) lasted over an hour and 45 minutes! 

New friendships were established by the time the event had finished and the evening concluded when all went to a local Mexican restaurant to relax and replay some close shots earlier in the day. 

The co-women's directors of the ORA, Therese Lewis and Paula Lemon, hope to have one or two women-only events next season. "The purpose of this day was to have an event for women of all skill levels who had never played in a tournament and encourage those who haven't played in quite some time to get back into it," Lewis stated. "I feel we accomplished this and look forward to more events like this in the future. There are a lot of good women players in Oklahoma." 

RESULTS -- Open: 1. Therese Lewis, 2. Christina Moore, 3. Julie Hill; B/C: 1. Theresa Morrison, 2. Sandra Lewis, 3. Becky Smith; Novice: 1. Linda Bennett, 2. Donna Cantrell, 3. Jane Neel. 

Traveling League Soldiers
by Olga Pollock
[ Top ]
In southwest Oklahoma, a group of players observed that there were a number of enthusiasts throughout the state who enjoyed playing locally but didn’t want to take part in tournaments. Because the local players wanted to meet and play new people, a traveling league was organized to fulfill that need.

Four clubs, all within a 90-mile radius, were invited to participate in the traveling league events. Players from these four clubs meet monthly, rotating among each sites. As many as 50 players participated in a single event. Levels of play vary from novice to open and include men and women, playing singles and doubles. Each of the local clubs provides food, fun, and hours of play on a given Saturday. The only cost is an entry fee of five dollars to cover court time. What a bargain for up to six hours of playing time with a variety of players!

Two of the league players are soldiers Shaun Stone from Tinker Air Force Base and Doug Miller from Ft. Sill, who participate in both league play and tournaments. Shaun was the gold medalist in Men's "B" at the 2002 Oklahoma State Singles; Doug placed second. Both soldiers were deployed to the Middle East when the United States went to war with Iraq. [Pictured L-R: Stone & Miller]

These men were recently honored in absentia at the 2003 USRA Regional Singles Championships in Oklahoma City. A display was set up at the tournament so players could view photos of the men and make donations for care packages. ORA Members gathered six boxes of items to send, and contributions from local companies paid for packaging and shipping. 

Wives of the soldiers have expressed gratitude to the members of the Oklahoma Racquetball Association for their generosity and kindness. Until they return home, the ORA will to keep Shaun and Doug in their thoughts.
Standard Issue?
[ Top ]
The “Patriot” frame is a bit hit with soldiers in the middle east. Barb Faulkenberry [2nd from right] reports: "We have two racquetball courts here at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia. Both are in pretty battered shape, but they are used 24 hours a day! Everyone here works at least 12-14 hours a day. Some folks get one day off out of seven. Somehow a lot of us always find time for a little racquetball!”
Challenge II

by Fred Ritschard
[ Top ]
Once again, some of the midwest's finest junior racquetball players fromIllinois, Indiana, Ohio & Kentucky, returned to the Greenbriar Athletic Club, in Indianapolis, IN, to battle for the coveted 'Midlands Award', in the second Annual 'Midlands Junior State Challenge' racquetball tournament. As was the case last year, the athletes from Junior Team Illinois brought the 'Midlands' title home with them in January.

All of the participants in this regional, four-state junior racquetball 
challenge tournament represented themselves, and their states, as skilled and sportsmanlike ambassadors. Many a friendship amongst the players has been made in the first two years of this major tournament!

Junior Team Illinois led the way with 20 players competing in the 'Midlands'. The state team scoring followed last year's order with Illinois posting 31 points, Indiana garnering 18, Ohio close behind with 15, and, Kentucky, with some new faces, putting up 4 points. Indiana and Ohio doubled their scoring from last year.

The individual age division finals went like this: Boys' 10-: 1. Matt Loy (IL), 2. Erich Schubert (IL); Boys' 12-: 1. Trevor Snyders (IL), 2. Nick Loy (IL); Boys' 14-: 1. Jonathan Doyle (OH), 2. Sean McGrath (IN); Boys' 16-: 1. Sean McGrath (IN), 2. Jonathan Doyle (OH); Boys' 18-: 1. Dain Taylor (IN); 2. Michael Steinhaus (IL). Girls Combined: 1. Sharon Jackson (IN), 2. Holly Hettesheimer (OH).

Thanks to the tournament founder, Fred Ritschard (IL), the tournament 
director, Cathy McGrath (IN), the tournament coordinator, Deb Chaney (IN), and, to all of the players and parents, who make this event possible and who make it so exciting!
Hair today, gone tomorrow ...
[ Top ]
Doug Eagle has been in email contact during his travels in India [see May/June ‘03, pg. 44], and recently filed the following report … "I am happy to share that it was just harvest time. The second harvest for me now. What am I harvesting? Hair. That's right, HAIR! In the first part of 1999 I cut off 25 ponytails of long healthy hair, and donated them to the Locks of Love Foundation in Florida. They take hair donations and turn them into wigs for the many children that undergo cancer treatment, which causes the loss of hair. 

Once again, four years later, I found myself with a head full of new crops. So call me a hair farmer … I did it again. This time I am living in India, and the idea of helping is always coming up. The yield was a strong 29 ponytails all at the 10-inch minimum. This harvest once again has made me a Bald EAGLE. It is always fantastic to be a part of the energy flow. Pass it on! (even if it is attached to my head) Buddha spoke of non-attachment, right?" [Photo: Vicki Hughes, ‘98 U.S. OPEN]
Photos: Dave Cannizzaro
Top ] 
Former Missouri state president and touring pro Jen Yokota wed Tom Sheldon last fall and the couple did a “sporting tour” before the ceremony.

They’re pictured on the ice at the Kiel Center (they’re both hockey fans) and later the entire wedding party went to Busch Stadium for more pictures in front of the Stan Musial statue. We’re guessing that the “something blue” might have been a racquetball! 

Top | RacquetballMagazine.com | USRA.org
© United States Racquetball Association -- All Rights Reserved