RYDF Players Horn and Collins Named United States Junior National Team Assistant Coaches

Those who follow the happenings of United States of America Racquetball (USAR) might have been somewhat surprised when it was announced that Charlie Pratt had accepted the position of Head Coach of the 2017 Junior National Team. For Pratt, this will be his first venture into international racquetball coaching, and many wondered who his assistant coaches would be. Jody Nance and Jen Meyer were almost automatic choices, according to Pratt, but he was not initially sure who else should join him. After thinking about it for several days, and speaking to others in the sport, David “Bobby” Horn and Robbie Collins were named as his two assistant coaches. They did not need convincing, and both jumped at the opportunity.

Bobbie will be one of the assistant coaches at the Junior World Championships in November.

Bobbie will be one of the assistant coaches at the Junior World Championships in November.

“I was ready to do it right away,” said Bobby.  “I was honored that they asked me and trusted that I know enough about the sport to be able to teach the juniors and help them achieve their goals and achieve a junior world title.”  A similar sentiment was expressed by Robbie.  “It was very humbling. For Charlie to think of me in this position, knowing there were only two positions available, I felt very grateful for him asking me to be part of the team.”

Some may wonder why Bobby and Robbie were chosen, when plenty of other “big name” coaches might have been available.  “The biggest thing that stood out for me was their enthusiasm for the game,” said Charlie.” I’ve been to a lot of tournaments with both of them, and both are a lot of fun to be around. It’s fun to have enthusiastic coaches. I didn’t have that as a pro and my time on tour. Bobby and Robbie are young, excited, and want to make something happen. They love the game and they love working hard to improve themselves.”

RYDF support both Bobby and Robbie as professional athletes, but they have been competing in the sport for much less time than many of the pros their age.  “That’s something that stands out to me,” said Charlie.  “Players of their caliber usually have a lot of junior racquetball, and they didn’t play very much when they were younger. Robbie didn’t have a lot of junior racquetball in Hawaii, and didn’t start playing properly until he was in college. Bobby is the same way. I didn’t know either of them until around seven or eight years ago.  I’ve known most up-and-coming players since they were kids, and so it shows how quickly they have been able to progress. I see them both as being on the upswing, and I wanted to find coaches that were joining a team that was on the upswing also.”

Robbie Collins is excited about coaching at international level for the first time.

Robbie Collins is excited about coaching at international level for the first time.

Robbie echoed the thoughts of Charlie. Although both assistant coaches are relatively young, and have not played as long as many other professionals their age, they have experience coaching. “Although I’m young at 26, I have been coaching,” said Robbie. “I’ve been a part of the RYDF Fitness Forever program for three years, and have helped some of the kids on the team through that program. Both Bobby and I bring some youthfulness but also some experience coaching juniors with it.”

USOC Training Camp

The first opportunity for Charlie, Robbie, Bobby, and Jody Nance to work together was at the national training camp held at the United States Olympic Committee training center in Colorado Springs, CO. For Charlie, it brought back many memories, which he was able to use in making modifications to its effectiveness.”  I was on the junior team for five years and went to the camp seven times. I’m pretty sure I’m the first and only head coach that was on the junior team. I knew what I did and didn’t like from a player’s perspective and changed a lot of things. The workouts were different. The timing of the day was different. I made them all eat plant-based food, which was an interesting experience for them. Camp was the most fun and the best part about being on the team. It was the ultimate training experience for me and it was what I lived for as a teenager.”

For Robbie and Bobby, it was an opportunity to get to know Charlie a little better, understand his coaching philosophy, and develop bonds with the players. Bobby was immediately a fan.  “I really like how Charlie goes about coaching the juniors. He guides them both on and off the court, and it’s similar to what the three of us do already. It was interesting to see how the kids received the information, which they may have had before, but not in that format. It was more professional.”

Robbie also thought they quickly formed a cohesive bond. “It was really good working with each other. I’ve known Charlie for a few years and Bobby and I are good friends. Jody Nance has been a big help for me learning to coach juniors. The four of us were a really good team, on the same page, and really looking forward to working together again in a few weeks at the Junior World Championships!”

The Junior World Championships bring players together from around the world.

The Junior World Championships bring players together from around the world.

Charlie had nothing but praise for his new assistants. “Working with Robbie and Bobby was great. They brought so much enthusiasm. I knew I could delegate tasks to them, and I knew they could handle it and work effectively with the athletes. They were excellent role models. It was great that we all could get on the court and show our juniors the drills and skills, because we’re all still playing. It made it easier for me because they could demonstrate it. They were everything I expected and then some too! We could feel how good this team is, and it was a new energy.”

The Junior World Championships

The Junior World Championships will be held in Minneapolis, MN during the first week of November. It is then that Charlie and his staff must perform at their very best against the very best. Bobby is excited about the prospect, especially having represented USA several times previously.  “I’m looking forward to being there for kids. I have a little experience helping the US adult team and I’ve helped coach at those events. I feel like I have a knack for it, and can help whomever I’m working with.”

It is a different challenge, however, knowing that no coach can do more than observe their athlete from outside the court. Skills that Robbie and Bobby might be able to perform flawlessly may not be replicated in the same manner by their athletes.  “I don’t want to tell them what to do, but guide them based on our own experiences. I want to help get them through some of the challenges that a big tournament can bring,” said Bobby.  “Sometimes it’s just keeping them calm and encouraging them to do what they’re capable of. The main thing is for me to help them do what they can. We do expect them to show up prepared, however.  I’m working with a bunch of them at home already so I know they’ll be prepared.”

Coaching is crucial if teams are to be successful at the Junior World Championships.

Coaching is crucial if teams are to be successful at the Junior World Championships.

Robbie almost mimicked Bobby’s thoughts. “I look at coaching and especially coaching juniors as another set of eyes outside of the court. All the work has already been put in, and my job is to steer the ship. Maybe I need to just nudge it in the right direction. I don’t get to hit the ball while I’m there. Instead, I’m just there to help them, whether during a timeout or in-between games. I want to keep them motivated and help them in the moment when they might not see something.”

Charlie summed up the potential of this coaching team well. "Robbie and Bobby were never on the team before, but they're completely fresh to this. They get to come in and create a brand new environment. I'm going to hang on to these guys and create a dynasty that'll be successful for years to come."

About RYDF

Please support the mission of RYDF in assisting young athletes from around the world with needed resources to achieve success both on and off the court, and to develop successful careers in sports and life. RYDF accomplishes this through three related programs:

 

Dream It – Fitness Forever Program

Empowers communities by providing opportunities for youth & families to experience fun, friendship, and lifetime health and fitness through participation in racquet sports. 

 

Reach It – The Dream Team

Provides emerging professional racquet sport athletes with financial support, mentoring, and career development opportunities to achieve success on the court and in their life.

 

Live It – Athlete to Professional

Uses experts across disciplines to provide knowledge, skills, tools, and practices to improve performance, build a successful career on and off the court, and give back to the community.

 

To learn more about RYDF or to donate, please visit www.give2rydf.org.

 

Pros and Amateurs Gain Knowledge Through Performance 360

RYDF has three primary goals within its overall mission. The first, Dream It, empowers communities by providing opportunities for youth and families to experience fun, friendship, and lifetime health and fitness through participation in racquet sports. The second, Reach It, provides emerging professional racquet sport athletes with financial support, mentoring, and career development opportunities to achieve success on the court and in their life. The third, Live It, uses experts across disciplines to provide knowledge, skills, tools, and practices to improve performance, build a successful career on and off the court, and give back to the community.

Rocky provides some on court instruction.

Rocky provides some on court instruction.

Just a few short weeks ago, we had the opportunity to see all three goals being met through a performance-focused fundraiser. Held at the ClubSport San Ramon in San Ramon, California, a group of 23 amateurs joined 12 young and established professionals for some education, training, and fun. The afternoon began with an instructional session for amateurs led by 5-time World Champion Rocky Carson. The purpose of this session was to provide a holistic overview of racquetball technique where Carson provided instruction on racquetball fundamentals. As Carson noted, “I can teach someone to hit a splat shot or a reverse pinch, but what most players really need to learn is the basic shots of racquetball. If they learn these well, then they are much more likely to be successful when they compete.”

Francisco Troncoso is interviewed by board member Mike Manoske.

While amateurs were being instructed by Rocky, RYDF-supported players such as Jose Rojas, Mauro Rojas, Antonio Rojas, Jose Diaz, Ricky Diaz, Jaime Martell, Alex Cardona, Bobby Horn, Francisco Troncoso, and Robbie Collins participated in video interviews with board member and career coach Mike Manoske. Following their interview, athletes met with GOAT Sports Performance expert Dr. Tim Baghurst to discuss their career goals and the importance of professionalism in becoming and succeeding as an athlete. Tim also spoke to the amateur athletes and provided some tips on how to overcome negative situations in competition.

ProAm doubles soon followed these sessions and amateur players had the opportunity to interact and compete alongside the professionals. This was a time of fun, conversation, and competition enjoyed by all. For amateurs, this is a special event. After all, how often do players get the opportunity to play with and against some of the best racquetball players in the world?

Coaches Dave and John Ellis discussing our Fitness Forever program.

Coaches Dave and John Ellis discussing our Fitness Forever program.

After the doubles mixer, all participants enjoyed dinner while coaches Dave and John Ellis provided an update on our very successful Fitness Forever program that is part of Dream It. The program is being expanded across sports clubs in California, and the progress Dave, John, and the other coaches involved have made in attracting youth to racquetball is encouraging. Not only does it provide youth in our community with physical activity opportunities, but also it can be used as a platform to justify to club owners and general managers how racquetball courts can be effectively used.

The program’s focus is on engaging youth and children in regular racquetball activities. Initially begun in Stockton, the program has spread to other clubs across California. Coaches interesting in adopting the model should contact us for more information.

Rocky Carson and Tim Baghurst were the primary guest speakers at this event.

Rocky Carson and Tim Baghurst were the primary guest speakers at this event.

The evening ended with a Q&A with world champion Rocky Carson and performance expert Dr. Tim Baghurst. Topics varied, from whether athletes should have coaches, how game plans can be developed, how sponsors can be raised, and how racquetball has changed over time. However, the primary goal of this time of the event was to emphasize how important all facets of life are in being a professional.

This is the first time RYDF has offered a Performance 360 event, but it was well received by all.

I enjoyed the event a lot,” said up-and-coming pro Daniel Rojas. “I learned a lot from Rocky and his business manager, and that whatever I’m doing, I have a good reason for doing so. I enjoyed playing with everyone, it was a great experience, and I hope to get a chance to do it again soon.”

Such sentiments were echoed by current pro Jaime Martell. “I got a better understanding of how the Foundation works, and it will help me present the Foundation to others as we attend tournaments and meet people. I really enjoyed the part of the program where Rocky Carson and Tim Baghurst spoke. They reminded us how important it is to behave as a professional on and off the court. It was also great to meet people who support the sport we love and help us to continue playing it.”

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Although this is the first Performance 360, we intend to continue offering such events in the future. We recognize that while supporting young players financially helps to grow the sport, RYDF also has the responsibility to promote physical activity among youth and train emerging athletes to become professionals on and off the court.

You can support the mission of RYDF by assisting young athletes from around the world with needed resources to achieve success both on and off the court and to develop successful careers in sports and life. RYDF accomplishes this through three different initiatives:

Dream It – Fitness Forever Program
Empowers communities by providing opportunities for youth & families to experience fun, friendship, and lifetime health and fitness through participation in racquet sports.

Reach It – The Dream Team
Provides emerging professional racquet sport athletes with financial support, mentoring, and career development opportunities to achieve success on the court and in their life.

Live It – Athlete to Professional
Uses experts across disciplines to provide knowledge, skills, tools, and practices to improve performance, build a successful career on and off the court, and give back to the community.

To learn more about RYDF or to donate, please visit www.give2rydf.org.

Junior National Champ Cooperrider Ready to Juggle School and Racquetball

Competitiveness is often a precursor to success in the case of Junior National Champion Jordan Cooperrider. “Competition runs in my family,” laughs Jordan. “Every Cooper has it. My friends laugh at me about it all the time because I want to be the best at everything and I get mad when I’m not, but we all have that competitiveness.”

For Jordan, her racquetball journey began as a four-year-old. “It was 14 years ago,” she reminisced. “My dad (Daryl) and older brother would play all the time, and my dad would bring me along to the club. But I wanted to play as well so he started putting me on the court with my older brother.”

Not a year later, as a 5-year-old, Jordan had entered her first tournament. It did not take long to make an impression. “It was in Florida, but I remember my dad told me I was playing the daughter of the number one professional at the time so it was quite memorable. I went in and beat her, and I remember her dad being in the court at the time. It’s something I’ve always remembered.”

Jordan playing as a 6-year-old.

Jordan playing as a 6-year-old.

A taste of success seems to be a motivator behind Jordan’s continued achievements, but her dad and coach Fran Davis also push her to be better. “My dad keeps me going and supports me with all the tournaments and getting me to practice and to train even when I don’t want to go. Of course, my coach Fran Davis is my full-time coach and keeps me mentally on track.”

At times, like many of us perhaps, quitting might be an easier option than enduring the challenges of training to be the best. And Jordan is no exception. She openly confesses that she has considered walking away from the sport, but the competition and the challenges she faces in tournaments are what spur her on. She recalls two examples of outcomes that have encouraged her to continue.

“When I was twelve, I won the Junior World Championships, and at the time I wasn’t much into the sport, and wasn’t interested in training, and wanted to quit racquetball. But when I won, it changed my motivation and made me want to keep playing. Playing that tournament is why I’m still playing. Then another great moment was when I was 15 and played my first pro stop. I beat pro player Frédérique Lambert at the stop and it made me want to train even more.”

Cooperrider with her parents.

Cooperrider with her parents.

Competing professionally is what Jordan aims to do for the near future, but she has her sights set much further ahead. “I want to play the pro tour fulltime. I want to make the U.S. adult team. I also want to be a veterinarian, so I’m going to have to figure out how I can compete and study. My goal is to own my own business so that I can travel around the world and compete. I want to mix my career with racquetball.” Jordan will be enrolling at University of South Florida in the spring following a semester of classes at a community college closer to home.

For Jordan, racquetball has had an enormous impact on her life, but she is also quick to recognize that it is not all just about her. “All the people I’ve met through racquetball have made me more social, livelier, and happier. It keeps me in shape, allows me to travel, and enjoy what I do. RYDF has really helped me and others get to tournaments. It is what we need to do to be playing more and getting used to playing higher-level players. I probably wouldn’t have been able to get to as many tournaments, and by providing hotel rooms, it really helps a lot. But people should know that it is better to support RYDF than me as an individual. I really respect people who support RYDF because it’s not just me on the court. If you just support me, then I’m going to be the only one there. But if you support RYDF, then you’re supporting everyone.”

2017 Junior National Champion

2017 Junior National Champion

You can support the mission of RYDF by assisting young athletes from around the world with needed resources to achieve success both on and off the court and to develop successful careers in sports and life. RYDF accomplishes this through three different initiatives.

Dream It – Fitness Forever Program
Empowers communities by providing opportunities for youth & families to experience fun, friendship and lifetime health and fitness through participation in racquet sports.
Reach It – The Dream Team
Provides emerging professional racquet sport athletes with financial support, mentoring, and career development opportunities to achieve success on the court and in their life.
Live It – Athlete to Professional      
Uses experts across disciplines to provide knowledge, skills, tools and practices to improve performance, build a successful career on and off the court, and give back to the community.

Jordan hopes to combine school, work, and racquetball in her life.

Jordan hopes to combine school, work, and racquetball in her life.

Reaching Your Dream Foundation Enters Year Three

RYDF was established in 2014 as a nonprofit foundation to help grow racquetball by providing shared housing at professional racquetball tournaments to young men and women emerging as professional racquetball players.  In year one RYDF supported over 30 players at 15 World Racquetball Tour (WRT) and Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) stops. It soon became clear these young athletes also needed help off-the-court in areas such as branding, social media, presentation skills and developing longer-term career opportunities. RYDF enlisted the support of Rocky Carson, America’s most decorated professional racquetball player, to help develop an off-the-court mentoring program for these young emerging athletes. In year two, RYDF:

  • Provided off-the-court training on social media use, branding, and presentation skills
  • Added housing support for athletes playing at International Racquetball Tour (IRT) stops
  • Continued its housing support of athletes playing at WRT and LPRT stops

As year three begins, RYDF:

  • Has served over 90 emerging athletes in their quest to compete at the highest levels
  • Has implemented the RYDF Fitness Forever program which engages with underserved youth and adults to provide health and fitness programming, in collaboration with health clubs in their communities. We leverage our supported professional racquetball players for inspiration and mentoring, and have seen particular success to date with the In Shape Athletic Clubs and John Ellis’ Pro Racquetball Academy!
  • Is enhancing its off-the-court support for branding, social media use, and career development.
  • Continues to provide player support for WRT, LPRT and IRT tournament play

Finally, RYDF continues to support our emerging athletes’ desire to play at the highest level in international competition and national championships.  We’d like to congratulate star athlete Carla Munoz for winning her second consecutive national collegiate championship playing out of Colorado State University, Pueblo; and congratulations to star athletes Jake Bredenbeck and David Bobby Horn for their second place finish at the Pan Am Championships just completed in Costa Rica.

Please help RYDF continue its mission through our 3rd year!!!  Visit us at www.give2rydf.org and make a tax-exempt donation.

RYDF Helps Alex Succeed On and Off the Court

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Alejandro Cardona is a 25-year-old professional racquetball player from Juarez, Mexico, with a distinguished junior career. Alex was an eleven-time Junior World Singles Champion and a five-time Junior Pan American Champion.  It seemed inevitable Alex would begin a career as a professional racquetball player.

But for almost two years, Alex had to abandon his hopes of playing professionally due to high travel costs to tournaments. He and his family didn't have the money to pursue his professional dream.  But through the creation of the World Racquetball Tour in 2012, sponsorship support from Gearbox, and the Reaching Your Dream Foundation, Alex has a second chance at reaching his dream.   And he's making the most of it.

Professional Racquetball now provides an opportunity for Alex to support his family back in Mexico.  With the winnings from his exceptional talent and RYDF and other support, Alex purchased and runs a food truck to help support himself and his family.  The Reaching Your Dream Foundation is proud to assist Alex and wishes him continued success both on and off the court, as we do for all the players we support.

Your generous tax-exempt donation helps support players like Alex and many others.  Please donate today.

2016: RYDF Year in Review

RYDF Players, Sponsors and Board members gather on court

2016 has been another exciting year for the Reaching Your Dream Foundation. Our biggest accomplishment was providing financial and personal development support to over 50 domestic and international male and female racquetball players to become successful in the sport and life.

Also, we launched our Fitness Forever Program in partnership with John Ellis’ Pro Racquetball Academy and the In-Shape Athletic Clubs in the Stockton area.  The Fitness Forever Program provides health, fitness, and education services to youth and families in under-served communities. The program teaches sports, health, and life skills in a fun, yet structured setting.

Both programs build on our guiding principle: mentor supported players and youth to be successful both on and off the courts.

In 2017, RYDF plans to expand both programs: assist emerging pro-level players and further engage under-served young people in the greater Stockton area and other locations, with help from supporters and donors like you.

Please help us provide emerging professional racquetball players opportunities for career development and a place for under-served youth and families to learn how to enjoy becoming forever healthy and fit.  Your tax-exempt donation can make an immediate, positive impact: DONATE HERE

 

In closing, the RYDF Board of Directors, sponsored players, and Forever Fitness kids wish you a wonderful, happy, and healthy holiday season.  Some of our players in the video below wanted to thank you personally:

Happy Holidays!

Robbie Collins pays it forward through Forever Fitness Program

I moved to Stockton from Hawaii in October 2013 to play on the pro tour. Once there, John Ellis asked if I would help out one night a week with a few of the kids in the Fitness Forever / Stockton Juniors Program. I felt it was a good chance to get involved in the local racquetball community.

When I started, we averaged 8-12 kids a night. Over the last few years, the program has steadily grown with more and more kids joining our classes. Today, 30 children per night participate three nights a week, with new attendees continuing to join.

The program brings kids of all ages and backgrounds together. Everyone from beginners to Junior National Champs works hard to learn and improve all parts of their game. Most importantly, racquetball is a positive influence in their lives, giving them a place to stay away from getting involved with drugs and violence, and also staying focused on doing well in school.

Being a coach in the Fitness Forever program through the Reaching Your Dream Foundation has been an invaluable experience for me. I’ve been fortunate to grow as a coach and player under the guidance of some of the best coaches in the sport such as former IRT pro John Ellis, current US Team coach Dave Ellis, and present Junior US Team coach Jody Nance.

While the Reaching Your Dream Foundation directly supports my goals on the pro tour, the Fitness Forever program helps me pay it forward to the next generation of racquetball players. Whether the mission is to be a Junior National Champion or just to improve their backhand, it is a blessing to help these kids reach their goals.