Racquetball

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 Fitness Forever 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.

RYDF Supported players shine at the Open; Congratulations Cristina Amaya, Mario Mercado, Gaby Martinez and Jaime Martell

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Team Colombia and RYDF sponsored players scored big wins at the US Open. Two star professional players, Cristina Amaya and Mario Mercado, won the women’s and men’s Open divisions respectively. Both have been supported by the RYDF for more than two years.

Jamie Martell

Jamie Martell

RYDF players also took home the winners trophy in the U.S. Open Mixed Pairs. Long time supported player, Jaime Martell of Mexico (always a fan favorite) paired up with 16 year old Gaby Martinez of Guatemala to win the U.S. Open Mixed Pairs. Jaime’s been with the foundation from its inception; Gaby is a newly supported player.

 

Gaby Martinez

Gaby Martinez

Gaby shocked the racquetball world in June; losing to Paola Longoria and finishing with a Silver medal at the Worlds. This was an astonishing accomplishment for the fast rising teenager.

RYDF congratulations to Cristina and Mario, Gaby and Jaime. We're excited to see them continue their growth in the game.

RYDF Congratulates Jose and Markie Rojas

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It was an epic U.S Open win for RYDF mentors Jose and Markie Rojas, taking first place in the Pro Doubles Division. This was the first US Open win for the Rojas brothers, widely celebrated by their many fans, particularly those in the “209” (the greater Stockton area code). Their win is a tribute to their hard work and long time commitment to nurture underserved members of the Stockton community.

Markie and Jose

Markie and Jose

Jose and Markie are part of an enormously successful racquetball community in Northern California, started and developed by Pat and Dave Ellis, and continued through their son John. Community key contributors include Jodie Nance and many others, including a racquetball club owner deeply committed to growing racquetball for 20 years at In Shape Athletic Clubs in Northern California.

RYDF’s Fitness Forever Program has partnered with the Ellis’ to provide a dynamic community engagement program targeting underserved youth and adults. Key help comes from RYDF supported players including Daniel Rojas, Robbie Collins, Tatoe Rojas, and Ricky Diaz, and others. They provide health and fitness activities at In Shape Athletic clubs.

Jose and Markie are long-time leaders, role models and mentors in the Stockton racquetball community to younger players in the successful juniors program at In Shape’s clubs.

RYDF’s goal is to help young players both on and off the court. We're equally proud that Jose and Markie are recent graduates from the University of the Pacific.

Jose and Markie will continue to provide leadership, support, and mentorship on behalf of the Reaching Your Dream Foundation. Additionally, they'll continue playing professional racquetball and representing the United States on the world stage.

RYDF thanks and congratulates Josie and Markie for their community service on top of their hard work and training, culminating in their US Open doubles victory.

Fitness Forever Program Mentors Youth

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Fitness Forever is a way to get kids, regardless of economic conditions, inside racquetball courts and close to mentors who know both the sport, and the demands of life in their local communities. We understand that the growth of racquetball lies within our youth. Sports can empower young people in a way only a few things in life can.

Racquetball shares many of the same accessibility problems that sports like golf and squash do.  Both of those sports, through programs of their own, have been able to reach out to youth, mostly on the fringe of accessibility. (Golf has TheFirstTee.org and squash has NationalUrbanSquash.org.) Following in a similar mindset, RYDF is beginning to implement its Fitness Forever program, a strategy of community engagement outreach to teach youth and adults the value of healthy living through physical activity.  RYDF’s Fitness Forever program, sponsored by seed funding provided by National Life Group Corporation and supported by RYDF mentor Rocky Carson, is providing resources to the In-Shape and Oakland programs.

Dave and John Ellis

Dave and John Ellis

Dave and John Ellis of Stockton, California, are prime examples of sports mentors operating within an area that is ripe for community enrichment programming through racquetball and other racquet sports. Stockton and Oakland are cities that have serious needs for programs that reach youth through sports. In Stockton, Dave Ellis has been involved in racquetball for the better part of his adult life. He raised his son John to play and compete professionally in the sport.  Dave has also coached countless high profile athletes and is currently the coach of the U.S. adult national team.

The Reaching Your Dream Foundation has partnered with Coach Dave Ellis and John Ellis, through their “Grow Junior Racquetball Program”, sponsored by In-Shape Athletic Clubs in Northern California, beginning with their home town of Stockton.  Together, we are developing a flexible program with a constitution that outlines and implements the tenets of our Forever Fitness program. Dave Ellis, speaking from his years of experience states, “We need to reach across economic lines. We don’t discriminate against anyone and everyone is welcome, but it is especially vital to attract and retain those most underprivileged.”

Participants from local schools, community centers, and neighborhoods learn to understand the importance of exercise and a healthy lifestyle.  In addition to learning the sport of racquetball, the program addresses the negative impact drug, alcohol and tobacco use can have on our youth’s future, as well as the positive force that academics and competitive sports can provide.  Participants will be involved in mentorships that foster a sense of loyalty to their families and communities.

Fitness Forever, as a program of RYDF, seeks to find and locate places like Stockton in order to place skilled and dedicated mentors in areas in need. Extending a hand to those unlikely to set foot on a court not only improves the lives of those children and their families, but also their communities as a whole.  Access to racquetball facilities will also help grow this great sport.

Racquetball is a young sport, full of promise and potential, but make no mistake, it is at risk, not unlike those at-risk youth. Early adolescence is a wonderful but fragile time. RYDF believes that all young people should be given the opportunity to experience the challenges and benefits of racquetball. The Reaching Your Dream Foundation encourages a wide range of youth and adults to take part in the movement toward fitness and a healthy lifestyle.

In order for RYDF to expand its Fitness Forever program, we encourage all of you to kindly consider offering donations of time and money to help grow this life changing program.  In the end, RYDF acknowledges that the racquetball community is only as good as the potential of its youth. We invite you to join the movement and we sincerely thank you in advance.

American Dreams on the World Stage

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By what gauge does one judge the state of racquetball in the U.S? From July 15-23 in Cali, Colombia at the World Games, the international racquetball community will be introduced to TEAM USA, the product of the current U.S system. Though some racquetball insiders may judge more critically, the casual fan determines a country’s strength by the success of its top talent. The South American countries have undergone periods of extraordinary growth and success in racquetball. No longer does the birthplace of the sport hold the leader's position in the international scene as the majority of those poised for great things are almost exclusively not from the United States. The discussion about the decline of American racquetball and the sport itself can seem like a revolving door of ideas. The Reaching Your Dream Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping young male and female athletes enter into the professional arena, strongly believes that the infusion of new players can directly impact not only the lives of players, but also affect match-ups and outcomes on the largest of stages. A case in point is the USA men's doubles team members, Jake Bredenbeck and Jose Diaz, two of these young players chosen and supported by the Reaching Your Dream Foundation for several years, culminating in the highest honor of being Team USA’s doubles team.

At the 2016 U.S National Doubles Championships, Diaz and Bredenbeck had a searing run through a draw featuring top teams and players from the country. They were able to overcome every team in route to the title, and earn a spot on the men's national team. This accomplishment would have been very difficult, if not impossible, had it not been for the Reaching Your Dream Foundation.

Used by persmission from Dave Elllis

RYDF helps young, promising talent with a variety of resources that can include assistance with air fare, lodging, and entry fees. As difficult as it is to play at their level, it is equally difficult to carve out a living in the sport, especially as an American. Thanks in large part to the donations of generous and loyal players, friends, and fans of racquetball, Diaz and Bredenbeck were able to gain their rightful position as the U.S national doubles team representing their country at the World Games.

The perceived decline of U.S racquetball may appear greater than it is because of recent surges in participation and money that has been invested into the sport in other parts of the world. Substantially funded programs like those of Mexico, Bolivia, and Colombia have made those countries more dominant in the sport. For all the conjecture and uncertainty about where the U.S game may be headed, the RYDF has played and is playing a vital part in helping our best talent showcase itself to the United States and now to the world. There would be no Diaz and Bredenbeck in the draw at the U.S Open, the National Doubles, or at the World Games without, to some extent, the support of the RYDF. With the help of RYDF, Jake and Jose proved that they were the best team in the country and not having the best team in the country playing at the world games would be unfortunate for U.S racquetball. The World Games is not only a show of a country’s power but also a proving ground for individual athletes who have their own personal dreams and aspirations. Diaz and Bredenbeck will not only carry the weight of their own goals but also the hopes of their country. We salute Jose and Jake for their dedication and will to win, just as we at RYDF are deeply grateful to donors such as you helping RYDF supported players to reach their dreams. Thank you for your past and future support!