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Year-End Message from Executive Director Mike Grisz

by USA Racquetball

For my year-end message, I want to focus on one of the many great things in racquetball – the heroes who put so much time and effort into bringing new people into our great game.  I’m celebrating four of them here, and there are so many more.  So let’s salute Leon Thomas, Sandy Long, Lynette Froehlich, and Jerry Hall.  I asked each of them to summarize their history and racquetball activity in a short narrative.  I hope you love their stories as much as I do.

Leon Thomas

I have coached racquetball for over 40 years and currently serve as the Executive Director and Head Coach of Racquetball Revival, a youth racquetball program in Baltimore, Maryland. I enjoy seeing kids improve on the court, believing it builds their confidence in different aspects of life. The program grew from one child to over 60 currently.  To learn more about the program visit www.racquetballrevival.com.  I am a former high school Athletic Director and have coached from grade school to the college level. I am retired from the hotel business where I was a Corporate Trainer & Consultant and served owners of Hilton, IHG, Marriott and Mandarin Oriental. Additionally, I was also a part of an ownership group. 

Leon Thomas Headshot
Leon Thomas

Sandy Long

I am passionate about racquetball, growing the sport across the state of Texas, trying to expand into Louisiana by teaching/coaching, mentoring and supporting with equipment and shoes. I’m working on these goals by teaching/coaching adults and junior players 6 days a week at 4 facilities in Dallas/Ft Worth and Tyler. When the opportunity arises, I encourage and try to support those with programs in other States. I raise money primarily through sales of Gearbox racquetball gear and apparel but also raffles and donations. The funds have been used to pay for equipment and shoes for juniors as well as collegiate club players. In 2023, I provided equipment for 46 juniors and 29 collegiate club players. I maintain contact with collegiate club presidents for updates on who’s practicing, playing, competing as well as working towards restarting the Southern Collegiate Racquetball Conference (SCRC). There are currently 3 active collegiate clubs and one that’s getting started in Texas.  I’ve been mentoring one instructor in Louisiana who’s already working on getting more racquetball classes, intramurals and hopefully a club team in the future.

For juniors alone, I raised enough money to pay entry fees and hotel expenses for Junior Team Texas at Junior Nationals in Pleasanton CA.  None of that is possible without the help of every person who made a purchase or donated money.

Sandy Long
USA Racquetball

Lynette Froehlich

My passion for the sport of racquetball started when I took my first step onto a racquetball court in 1978 at the University of Nebraska.  Not only was the sport a tremendous workout, but the speed and sound were exhilarating!  Because of my desire to keep the sport alive and thriving, I became an AmPro Certified Racquetball Instructor in 2004 and a Nationally Certified Personal Trainer in 2006.  The certification materials proved to be excellent; but I discovered that we needed far more instructors, perhaps A and B level players who had a passion to teach, and who would respond to a simpler certification process, enabling them to teach potential players, ages 5 to 75.  So, I experimented and developed in 2020 an easy-to-teach, seven lesson training manual (complete with over 60 videos) targeted toward A and B level players.  I have used this curriculum over 20 times, instructing both juniors and beginner adults.  Perhaps most importantly, I’ve recently begun to use it to coach a 16-year-old and two adult B level players; and they’ve been using it to instruct other juniors and beginner adults.   

Lynette Froehlich Headshot
Lynette Froehlich

Jerry Hall

I am passionate about growing the game of racquetball, both indoor and outdoor; one new player at a time. I believe this takes a grassroots effort to make this game we love more inviting and approachable for people of all ages.

Besides playing as often as I can, my contributions to growing the game include being a board member of the California/Nevada Racquetball Association, a member of Team DOVETAIL, Regional Marketing Coordinator for Team HEAD, and racquetball coach for In-Shape Family Fitness.

I currently teach 3 classes per week to mostly beginner level players. I also run bi-monthly shootouts, which always includes a novice division so our new players can get a taste of competition and also get inspired by watching the higher-level players compete. Through these programs, this past year alone my club has had dozens of people try racquetball for the first time with a number of them now playing multiple times per week.

Jerry Hall Headshot
Jerry Hall

I thank them all for their dedication and look forward to sharing more stories like this going forward.

Happy holidays and Happy New Year!