Holiday Greetings to You and Your Families
by Stewart Solomon
It is this time of year we usually step back and take stock of the year as it is coming to a close. When I look back at how the year unfolded, I’m reminded that our indoor championship season didn’t really restart until the 2022 High School National Championships in March. We have only returned to full-time indoor play in the past 9 months after having 9 of 11 events cancelled. Along the way to returning, many of the indoor events were rushed to go live on R2 Sports and did not have a lot of communication. For the upcoming season, we have National Doubles/Singles posted with a steady stream of entries over the past month; National High School Championships posted and accepting entries; and plans to have Intercollegiates and Juniors posted by the new year.
While the indoor side of the sport had its challenges, the outdoor side was able to remain strong, continuing and improving the tradition of the “big three.” These are amazing destination events, and if you have not attended one of the big three, I highly encourage you make travel plans in the new year. I’ve had the pleasure of playing each of the events at some point over the last 11 years and have never gone home disappointed!
While membership numbers appear to have plateaued, two encouraging numbers are 1,000 and 30. A quick review of the numbers shows there were around 1,000 new USAR memberships created in 2022 and of those, around 30% are 21 years of age and under. We still need to amend this data to remove any duplicate profiles, but it’s unlikely there were 1,000 duplicate profiles created. These numbers are only a starting point, and we must continue to grow from here.
Individual contributions are up, and for that I am grateful. I thank each and every one of you who contributed, from the $5 donations you may have selected to the larger donors who have been inspired to give back to the sport that has given so much to them.
How can the racquetball family come together moving forward? First and foremost, take this time to enjoy the holidays with your loved ones, regardless of whether they play racquetball or not! In the new year (or today):
- If you have an expired membership, log on to R2 and renew your membership. The small gesture of renewing your membership makes you a part of the association’s rebuilding. Every membership counts!
- Join or create a racquetball league at your local club. If you would like some ideas on how to get this started, feel free to reach out to me or Mike Grisz.
- Work with your gym/club to offer free introductory lessons to their members. It’s a great way to guide club members who might be apprehensive about the sport. It doesn’t have to be formal instruction, just a simple introduction. I have done this with several members of my gym and have had a couple returning students.
- Organize a shootout. If you don’t have a lot of courts at your club, one-day shootouts are a fun way to bring people together and utilize the space. Have more courts and space to host a larger event? Jump in for a multi-day tournament. Not sure how to start? Feel free to reach out to local tournament directors for guidance. Nobody local to reach out to? Reach out to me. I’ve helped two New England players host their first events in 2022.
- Contact me and/or Mike Grisz with suggestions on how we can improve your experience. We don’t claim to be the smartest people in the room, but we, as well as the staff, board, and experienced volunteers, are putting forth major time and effort to make improvements. And while we may be tied up with the day-to-day grind of keeping the association moving, added support from the community would be very helpful.
The year 2022 took a toll on USA Racquetball, but we are dedicated to making the association stronger and more financially secure, from supporting programs that help introduce and grow the sport to fostering the continued growth of outdoor racquetball.
With all that said, I wish you all a happy and healthy Holiday Season and New Year!
USA Racquetball Board of Directors
M: 215.688.1831 | W: https://dot.cards/usarpresident | E: email@example.com