February Junior Spotlight
by Cheryl Kirk
Over the past year, Serving Up the News has featured a number of Junior athletes to date, including all but four of the U.S. Junior Team members who competed at the IRF World Junior Championships in Guatemala last December.
It’s our pleasure to present the remaining four Juniors now, in the category of “last but certainly not least!” Read on to learn about their backgrounds and accomplishments.
Elizabeth, Benjamin, Annie, and Julia, it was a great year, and we’re so proud of you!
Photo by Sabath Trejo
Hometown: Champlin, Minnesota
School: Freshman at Champlin Park High School
Family: Mary (mother), Ron (father), Melissa (sister), Carly (sister), Basil (dog)
What are your interests/hobbies outside of Racquetball? Ceramics, crocheting, drumset, percussion, and other varieties of instruments
How old were you when you started playing Racquetball? 7 years old
What divisions did you compete in at World Juniors? Esprit Cup: Girls 14 & Under – quarterfinalist and Esprit Cup, Girls 14 & Under Doubles – semifinalist (Bronze)
Coach: Jim Winterton, for over 5 years. He has been an awesome coach/mentor, and he has improved my game greatly.
How did making the trip to Guatemala benefit you? Being able to learn about other countries and their customs/language.
Racquetball experiences you would like to share? I received the 2021 U.S. Junior Team Sportsmanship Award at Junior Nationals last year.
Editor’s Note: At the just-concluded USA Racquetball National Doubles & Singles Championships, Elizabeth showed herself to be a proficient and fearless referee who took her valuable role very seriously. Incidentally, she also took Gold in Women’s A and Women’s A Doubles with Thea Mattfeldt (AZ).
Photo by Sabath Trejo
Hometown: Ankeny, Iowa
School: Senior at Ankeny Centennial High School
Family: Dan (father), Melissa (mother), Zane (brother), Kelsy (sister)
What are your interests/hobbies outside of Racquetball? Basketball, video games, and lifting
How old were you when you started playing Racquetball? 3 years old
What division did you compete in at World Juniors? World Cup: 16 & Under Singles – quarterfinalist
Coach: Jim Winterton, 10 years
Do you have sponsors you would like to acknowledge? HEAD Racquetball
What did representing USA and your state at World Juniors mean to you? I felt very blessed to be able to represent my country.
Photo by Dylan Shoemaker
Hometown: Gresham, Oregon
Currently living in: Stockton, California
School: University of the Pacific: Health and Exercise Science, Spanish (Senior/4th year)
Family: My parents Bryan and Danielle, my younger brother Ben, my boyfriend Jon, and our chihuahua mini.
What are your interests/hobbies outside of Racquetball? I love being in nature and being outside. Growing up in Oregon is a big part of this. Waterfalls, lakes, mountains are right in my backyard and being outside is my favorite way to just clear my mind and truly forget about everything other than being happy.
How old were you when you started playing Racquetball? 12 years old
What divisions did you compete in at World Juniors and results? World Cup: 21 & under singles – quarterfinals
Do you have coaches you would like to acknowledge, and how long were they your coach? Yes, many! Brian Ancheta was who I worked with during the majority of my Junior and High school career. He continues to coach our high school team and works with many other Oregon Juniors. He'll always be such a valuable coach. He’s all about racquetball, constantly working to improve the sport. Bobby Horn and the Manillas (Adam and Erika) are who I am currently working with the most, gaining great insight from all of them in different ways. And of course I have had the opportunity to compete with the coaching of Charlie Pratt and Tim Baghurst as U.S. Junior Team coaches who have led great teams each in their own ways.
Do you have sponsors you would like to acknowledge? Yes! Competing would not be possible without Gearbox giving me the best gear. Reaching Your Dream Foundation (RYDF) supports me on the professional tour. And Stone Creek Building in Oregon consistently supports me in all aspects of competition.
What did representing the USA and your state at World Juniors mean to you? Competing at the World Championships is such an amazing experience it’s sometimes difficult to express what it means exactly. But I would say that there's such a motivating feeling of pride and freedom in playing at the highest level and knowing that you are representing your state and the USA.
Were there any experiences you had outside of Racquetball in Guatemala that you would like to share? Yes! My family and I had the opportunity to visit Antigua while we were in Guatemala, which was such an exciting experience. Everything there was so green and beautiful!
Editor’s Note: At the just-concluded USA Racquetball National Doubles & Singles Championships, Annie contributed on the social media team with an Instagram Story Takeover. This was in addition to competing in both the Women’s Team Qualifying and Mixed Doubles Team Qualifying divisions!
Photo by Sabath Trejo
Hometown: Malvern, OH
Lives in: Cleveland (for school)
School you attend and grade: Baldwin Wallace University; Junior; majors are Biology and Public Health
Family: Parents Adam and Marcy, brothers Thomas and Joseph, pets Ollie and Daisy, boyfriend Nick, and best friend Emilio
What are your interests/hobbies outside of Racquetball? I’m really interested in science, especially microbiology and anatomy. I like playing intramural sports like volleyball (all-star libero). I also play pickleball in the summer and enjoy boating and doing watersports.
How old were you when you started playing Racquetball? Five
What divisions did you compete in at World Juniors and results? World Cup: Girls 18 Singles – quarterfinalist; Girls 18 Doubles -- Silver
Do you have coaches you would like to acknowledge, and how long were they your coach? Andy Hawthorne has been helping me since 2020, and my brother Thomas gives me tips.
Do you have sponsors you would like to acknowledge? No, but if anyone wants to support, I am open 😌
What did representing USA and your state at World Juniors mean to you? I love competing in anything I do, so being able to compete in my favorite sport at the highest level makes me feel so lucky and grateful. I can’t quite describe the feeling of being able to upset Mexico and play in the finals, but it is euphoric.
Were there any experiences you had outside of Racquetball in Guatemala that you would like to share? The Mahoneys and my dad and I went to Antigua on the Burning of the Devil, which is a holiday on December 7th. It was so fun to experience their culture and be able to eat authentic Guatemalan food. Guatemala is by far my favorite place I have traveled for Worlds, and I want to go back soon just as a vacation.
Photo by Sabath Trejo