Stockton

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.

Daniel Rojas Seeks to Earn His 2nd High School National Championship Title

Daniel Rojas

Daniel Rojas

Daniel Rojas begins the quest to earn his 2nd title as the #1 High School racquetball player in the United States at the National High School Racquetball Championships this week in Portland, OR. Daniel's first match is today, Friday February 26th at 3:40pm PST. Free viewing is provided on the USA Racquetball Livestream. Please view the video as Daniel talks about how the Reaching Your Dream Foundation has helped him and learn about our newest initiative the Ambassador Program.

Cliff Swain to host racquetball clinics for RYDF

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The Reaching Your Dream Foundation is excited to announce that racquetball legend Cliff Swain will be in Northern California to play in the World Racquetball Tour (WRT) event to be held from September 5-7 and then spend the next few days providing his excellent and very popular lessons and clinics throughout the Bay Area. 

For more information about the WRT event visit R2 Tourney Link.  Join Cliff and other world class racquetball pros at the WRT Stockton even and sign up for a lesson or clinic with Cliff September 9th or 10th. More to come on these clinics in the next few weeks so stay tuned!

Becoming a Professional Player - Part 5

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by Dave Ellis, Coach, USA Racquetball and Jesse Serna, Conditioning Coach for the 209

If you want to be a successful professional racquetball player, you’ll need a physical trainer.  You just have to have one to be able to match up with your opponents.   Best scenario would be to have a trainer that is also a racquetball player.  However, trainers and strength coaches familiar with tennis, basketball or baseball should ensure that there are sport specific understanding, exercises, and overall training. Make sure that your trainer has a degree in exercise science or is nationally certified by one of the major associations (NASM, ACE, NSCA, ACSM). Make sure you ask for references, because a good trainer will be happy to share their success stories.

There are seven important physical training needs, which at times, overlap: injury prevention, conditioning, strength training, flexibility/mobility training, agility/foot speed development, pre and post-match planning, and nutrition counseling.  Racquetball is a demanding physical challenge, and we believe that the importance of each of these is somewhat obvious.  Simply put if you get hurt you get worse. Strength and flexibility training are vital for injury prevention making it possible to participate at 100% for the entire season. Power and mobility training allow large, initial steps to the ball, while foot speed/agility allows for the “little adjustment steps” before hitting it. Proper conditioning promotes quick recovery after long rallies, and makes it possible to last through that tough tie-breaker.  Pre and post-match routines should be set to both prepare for a match and then to prepare for the following match. That means taking care of what you put in your body, not just what you do with your body.

Let us caution you, however, about a danger of fitness training.  If a complete program is done religiously, you will feel better, be more attractive, be stronger, be more flexible, and you will be healthier overall.  This phenomenon can result in a form of “exercise addiction,” where on court practice can begin to be ignored in favor of physical fitness workouts.  Both conditioning and on-court practice are super important, but remember, no one ever hit a game winning shot from the TRX station, nor from the pull up bar.  It is interesting to us to watch an overweight, out of shape player dominating a match.  With serves and rally shots, the player can control center court and really hardly even had to move.  Beware of the trap of ignoring the on-court practice for the precision that you need to play at the pro level.

The Importance of Partnership Part 7

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Becoming a Professional Player- Part 7

by Dave Ellis, Coach, USA Racquetball and Jesse Serna, Conditioning Coach for the 209

“We must all hang together or most assuredly we shall hang separately.”

- Benjamin Franklin

Dave Ellis & Jesse Serna

Dave Ellis & Jesse Serna

Our previous blog was about acquiring a coach and then working cooperatively with that person. Finding the right coach can often be a difficult, and sometimes an expensive, task. Experienced professional level coaches are few and far between. Yet, it is essential that our prospective professional gain perspective into what is happening when he/she plays. It’s absolutely necessary that a second set of eyes be there to provide information and feedback.

An alternative to working with an experienced coach is to form a partnership with one or more professional players. Frankly even those players who are coached can benefit from a partnership with another player. This is very workable, especially if the players live in the same area. A partnership can be mutually beneficial in a number of different ways:

• A partnership allows valuable on-court practice activities. Set ups given by each other can serve to improve particular rally skills. Serves and returns can be rehearsed together. Drilling together will have tremendous value, particularly if each is both encouraging and demanding of the other. Situation games and matches will be easy to plan and execute. • Off court fitness training while working with a partner, can be motivating and efficient. Partners can push each other and also hold each other accountable to a training regimen. • When scheduling permits, partners should game coach each other. While assisting your partner within game coaching, you practice the ability to analyze and make corrections in real time. • Post-match discussions with partners can provide valuable insight. Studying together video of each other’s play, along with that of other professionals, can make an often-tedious task more fun.

• Travel planning and sharing of expenses is crucial. By booking flights together when inexpensive, sharing rides and places to stay, your sponsorship dollars can be stretched just a little further. • You are an aspiring professional racquetball player, thus not a lot of people will understand your dedication and lifestyle. A partner is uniquely qualified to understand time management issues, dealing with school, job, and family, as well as the time required of both you and your partner during on and off court practice. • Partners look out for each other. For example, while partner A is playing a late evening match, partner B can obtain food before restaurants close. Of course, there are often social events that may require a designated driver.

An essential accord, which should be made by partners, is that each other’s improvement and welfare are a mutual effort. Needless to say, each partner has to feel the help of the other for the relationship to be of maximum benefit and to continue on into the future. There will be those moments where partners have to play each other. After all, racquetball is an individual sport. These matches need to happen without destroying the “teamwork bonds” that have been developed. This can be difficult, but good sportsmanship and fair play especially need to be the rule in these cases. Good luck with this situation. It’s a tough one.