Fitness

RYDF Summer Fun-Raiser Brings Needed Support to USA Team Juniors and Young Professional Players

Mike Lippitt, RYDF Founder and Nikita

Mike Lippitt, RYDF Founder and Nikita

The Reaching Your Dream Foundation is a tax exempt, nonprofitwhich promotes health & fitness and the long term viability of sports like racquetball by supporting players with diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.  The foundation helps these young athletes with hope and opportunities for personal and professional growth while they pursue their dreams.   RYDF was created to help these young athletes achieve success on the court and in life.

Daniel and Tato

Daniel and Tato

RYDF just finished an awesome two-day Fun-Raiser, held at Mariner Square Athletic Club in Alameda CA.  We had over 90 players in five shootout divisions.  Most of the food was donated to help the foundation raise money for its three causes: juniors, and men and women players interested in improving personally and professionally.  Part of the proceeds were designated to the four Northern California juniors who made the USA Junior Olympic Team destined for the Dominican Republic in November.  (Attached is a picture of two of the four players: Nikita Chauhan and Julian Singh).  Each player’s family will receive $500 for each child.

The foundation depends on the generosity of people from our local communities and outside our community who believe in our Vision and Mission.  Please  “Like” our Facebook Cause page consider donating to help support the dreams of these very talented younger women and men players.

RYDF: Our Mission Continues...

Mario Mercado

Mario Mercado

For us at the Reaching Your Dream Foundation, this first year has been a time filled with intimately learning the struggles young professional racquetball players face trying to make racquetball a life endeavor. The major goal of our foundation is to grow racquetball, and within that context, identify and raise the resources needed to address the unmet needs of players from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.

Throughout this year, we’ve engaged with many organizations and individuals to try and identify opportunities to enable players to pursue professional racquetball. However, our main operational strategy to date, to address the needs of these players, has been to help the World Racquetball Tour, in part, with their mission to facilitate a professional environment for young aspirational racquetball players. RYDF has provided support for players logistically with travel expenses and working to try and develop actionable engagement that help players make the most of their experiences on tour.

Our dedicated board most of which are from the Bay Area and who I will talk about in a later entry, worked bring the WRT to ClubSport in Pleasanton, California this past February. It was an endeavor to provide RYDF players another opportunity to compete for prize money, while allowing the local community to see and enjoy the players the community support.

The Mario Saga: One Player Pushing Us To Open Doors

One of the young players who came to Pleasanton was Mario Mercado age 19 from Bolivia. Mario is the 2013 Word Junior Champion. Mario had recently made the decision to leave Bolivia and play for Columbia. His decision found him with a few months of “free time”. He decided to stay in the Bay Area and was graciously taken in by a number of families, most of whom were board members of the foundation.

While in the Bay Area, Mario was closely befriended and mentored by Bobby Horn from Stockton, California and Carla Munoz of Chile, both RYDF supported players. Bobby plays primarily at WRT tour stops and Carla is a regular on the LPRT. Both train and teach racquetball to children and adults at ClubSport Pleasanton. Bobby and Carla spent a good amount of time with Mario working on his racquetball game as well as his cultural adjustment here in the States.

The mentoring Mario received was closely supervised by Pablo Fajre. Pablo is the coach of the Chilean Racquetball Team and president of the World Racquetball Tour. Also involved in oversight was Carlos Contreras, a Columbian born player who now lives and plays in the United States and is a citizen of the USA. Carlos is also the Treasurer and accountant for the RYDF.

Although all of these machinations dealt with the specifics of one player, it provided a good opportunity to explore educational opportunities and possible partnerships for players like Mario. The leadership of the foundation in conjunction with Pablo and Carlos decided to meet with some administrators of Las Positas College. We met with the Dean of Athletics and the Coordinator of the International Students Program to discuss the more general issue of understanding what is involved with assisting non-USA citizens with their desire to live, learn, train, and play high level professional racquetball in the United States, specifically (for now,) the Bay Area.

We are finding that there is much to learn and we feel very encouraged by our experience with Mario. The Reaching Your Dream Foundation has a mission of providing opportunities for players while facilitating growth for racquetball. Right now, we envisioned the Bay Area becoming a major training and education center for both American and non-American, young, elite racquetball players. We are currently learning that moving forward with our mission often involves investing in our players one at a time.

Racquetball Is A Two Way Street

RYDFfebpic1.jpg

It’s a major goal for us at Reaching Your Dream to find ways to use racquetball to engage the community in ways that grow the sport. Fitness awareness brought together with the encouragement that is facilitated through setting goals on the World Racquetball Tour means that the time our players invest as professionals have real value when it comes to mentorship. While often, these opportunities happen organically while traveling on tour, it is a perfect storm of “nothing but positive” when matched up with programs that are growing and are making a difference using racquetball as a catalyst.

Aaron Embry of San Diego, California has formalized racquetball in a program with a local high school Saint Augustine, a private catholic high school in that town. The “Intercession” has been designed to provide students with ways to build on their college applications and life skills through 120 programs like internships with doctors, lawyers, architects, studying abroad, racquetball, etc. He’s been engaged with the program for 3 years and has seen that program grow in participation.

When the WRT rolled into San Diego’s Sorrento Valley Racquetball and Fitness Center for their second stop of the year, the San Diego Open, it was a perfect opportunity for RYDF players to engage with a well developed program like Embry and his team have been building up.

It’s a learning experience for everyone involved. For young racquetball enthusiasts like the Saintsmen of Saint Augustine, the opportunity to get court time with professional players can lead to the type of experience that can last a lifetime. These young players will hopefully be further encouraged to stick with racquetball as a means to incorporate fitness with confidence as life lessons. For our RYDF players like Alex Cardona, Bobby Horn and Alexi Cocco Hayes, this type of engagement also brings together positive aspects of racquetball that transcend the competition. They learn for programs that are doing the right things to encourage and engage for the sport of racquetball. Our players learn for themselves that they can make a difference in someone’s life when they give back their time in ways that encompass all that is good in racquetball.