pro athlete

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!

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.

Munoz receives scholarship at CSUP

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The Reaching Your Dream Foundation is extremely proud to congratulate one of its star players, Carla Munoz, for receiving a two year scholarship to attend Colorado State University Pueblo to finish her degree in business and accounting and to play for their nationally ranked racquetball program. CU Pueblo is a perennial contender for top colleges in the sport of racquetball.

Carla was one of four players selected by RYDF for a cash stipend in 2016 to help support her career. The other three were Jake Bredenbeck, Jose Diaz and Bobby Horn.

carla with her acceptance letter

Carla, 24, came to the United States from Chile three years ago to attend college and play professional racquetball. She continues to play for Chile in international tournaments and enjoyed a Silver place finish two years ago in the Pan Am Games. In July she will be representing Chile and RYDF at the World Games in Cali Colombia.

Carla is currently ranked #11 on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) and plans to continue to play as she finishes her education. She enters CU Pueblo as a junior and must maintain a full academic load to qualify for her scholarship. Prior to being admitted and receiving a scholarship from Pueblo, she attended Las Positas Community College in Livermore and recently won first place in the National Collegiate Championships.

Bredenbeck’s Rollercoaster

Jake Bredenbeck and Bobby Horn

Jake Bredenbeck and Bobby Horn

Jake Bredenbeck is having one heck of a year. He describes it as a bit of a rollercoaster. Opening the year, in January, Bredenbeck won the WRT Sonora Open, defeating then No. 1 Polo Gutierrez and becoming the first American in the No. 1 spot on the World Racquetball Tour. That is an incredible way to start the year. The following weekend, at the WRT San Diego Open, he lost in the first round. In speaking with Bredenbeck, he guesses maybe he was burnt out, but he’s not sure what happened. He does know he wasn’t comfortable playing and wasn’t playing well in the weeks following his big win. So, the champ took a few days off, changed his mind set for playing in front of his home crowd in Minnesota for the WRT Midwest Championships and was focused on playing for fun. “I wasn't worried about the other stuff,” like preserving his No. 1 position on the WRT. Of course, the new mind set paid off, he won his second WRT Title at the Midwest Championships in May.

The year has continued to have its ups and downs for Bredenbeck. He constantly battles for the No. 1 position on the World Racquetball Tour, and is currently in the No. 2 spot, behind Alex Cardona. He is a consistent semi finalist and finalist on the WRT, but hasn’t won a title since the Midwest Championships in May. Back at the top of another peak of 2015, a monumental accomplishment was going to the Pan American Games to play and represent the United States in singles racquetball. “Winning two years in a row at National Singles has been incredible,” but Jake says it contributed to the roller coaster-like feeling. After winning Nationals this year he wasn’t sure that the qualifying process would ensure he would play in the Pan Ams. It’s a huge deal to represent your country in the biggest racquetball tournament in the world. According to Bredenbeck, the Pan Ams have a different atmosphere, a different set up and that was exciting but it was stressful waiting to find out if he would be a part of the team. When he got the call from the USA National Coach, Dave Ellis, he was filled with a mix of excitement, relief and lots of happiness. Out of all the racquetball moments in his life, he thinks this is the most happiest he’s ever been. He was proud to represent the USA. His parents were also very excited. In fact, they drove up to Canada to support their son.

Bredenbeck comes from a family that is particularly loyal to racquetball. Both Jake’s parents, Karen and Bill, are in the Minnesota Racquetball Hall of Fame. His younger brother, Sam, just won the 2015 Junior Nationals in both singles and doubles. Jake comes from a really competitive family who does their best not only in sports but everything they do. It’s ingrained in them. You can further see this by Bredenbeck’s remark that the second happiest moment he can compare to the feeling of going to represent the USA in the Pan Ams is graduating from University of Colorado with his Masters in Business, at age 22. That was a big accomplishment and a proud moment in his life. Sure, he won a couple of junior national tournaments and he’s sure he was excited and happy but these recent accomplishments are outstanding and so fresh in his memory. He’s won two national titles in the last two years and has represented his country to play the sport he loves at the biggest racquetball tournament that only happens once every four years.

The racquetball powerhouse pro still has big plans for 2015. To finish out 2015, Bredenbeck wants to get back to No. 1 on the WRT and finish the year in the No. 1 position. If he plays more IRT events, he wants to rise to the top 10 of their ranks. You know what, he wants to win the US Open too. This is a guy who shows up to win, not to just be there, “the US Open is a huge tournament with a lot of big players,” and he is there to play to win.

As far as his goals beyond 2015, Bredenbeck wants to continue to grow the juniors programs and support the growth of the racquetball community. He coached several kids, not just his brother, at the Junior Nationals last month in Stockton, California. He wants to help other junior national teams, as he has done in the past, and found he really enjoys it. The biggest obstacle for Bredenbeck in helping the racquetball community is the demands of traveling. He travels a lot for tournaments, and therefore helps out whenever and however he can. He says, “it’s hard to start a juniors program in Arizona (where I reside) but harder because of all the traveling I do.” Life on the road can have it’s challenges, but it allows Bredenbeck to pursue his dreams, and he helps with clinics, lessons and supports the racquetball community in every way he can while on the road.

Cardona on Fire!

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Alex Cardona is on fire! Currently No. 1 on the World Racquetball Tour (WRT), Cardona proves he is worthy of his rank by winning back to back titles at the Grace Warrior Atlanta Open and the Suncoast Open. This achievement gives Cardona six total WRT Titles.

At the WRT Grace Warrior Atlanta Open, Cardona defeated No. 2 Jake Bredenbeck 15-6, 15-2 in the finals, after battling other pros like Samuel Murray (CAN), Christian Longoria (MEX) and Andree Parrilla (MEX). The WRT Suncoast Open was another tough event full of fierce WRT pros. To get to the finals, Cardona had to defeat top WRT pros like Mike Harmon (USA), Jaime Martell (MEX), Andree Parrilla (MEX). Once in the finals, Cardona faced third seeded, No. 4 on the WRT, David Bobby Horn, winning 15-12, 15-3.

Cardona hasn’t always been on top. As a seven time Junior World Singles Champion, it seemed seamless for him to transition into a career as a professional racquetball player. For close to two years, Cardona was forced to abandon his hopes of playing pro racquetball due to the high costs incurred traveling to professional events to and from his home in Juarez, Mexico. With the creation of the WRT in 2012, Cardona was offered a second chance at rebuilding his dreams. Now, with the assistance of the WRT paired with the support of the Reaching Your Dream Foundation, Cardona is able to thrive in the sport he loves.

Cardona’s previous titles include:

2015 Colombia Open Champion

2015 San Diego Champion

2014 San Antonio Open Champion

2013 San Diego Open Champ

You can watch Cardona’s matches on the WRT YouTube Channel.

Becoming a Professional Player - Part 2

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Becoming a successful racquetball pro requires the proper mental attitude.  Above all, there needs to be a totalappreciation for the precision involved.  At the highest level, it is a game of inches. An inch or two on the front wall target will separate a successful drive serve from one that comes off the back wall for a set up.  Inches to the right or to the left can make the difference between a successful passing shot and one that is hit at an angle that will bring the ball to where the opponent is located.

A couple of inches can make the difference between a perfect ceiling ball and one that comes off the back wall. Those players that think they can win by just hitting the ball harder or by thinking they can get everything, do not see the importance of the necessary precision.  Sure, power at the proper moment and retrieving are important. To become a successful pro, the importance of shot precision must be must exist in the mind of the player to an extent that he/she is totally self-demanding.

This attitude must be taken to the practice court. I have an expression as coach, “Make it boring (for everyone except your coach).”  That is, “Do not fail to hit a rally ending shot when the opportunity is there.”  The greatest player ever, Kane Waselenchuk, understands this perfectly.  With him, it’s all business, get the match done, and get back to the hotel room. One of our players has said, “But the game is not fun if the rallies are so short.”  To be a successful professional, the attitude must be, “kill or be killed.”

Becoming a Professional Player - Part 3

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In racquetball we can isolate “angle” and “power.”   Both are critical, but our prospective professional must understand that angle is the more important.  A very simple but important exercise is to place an object on the floor, moving it to different places all over the court.  Our player should work hard to gain command of front wall targets by dropping and hitting from many different places on the court, attempting to direct the shot towards the object. 

 

The angles need to be instinctive, and can actually be constructed geometrically.  After the drop and hit practice, move on to direct feeds and feeds off the back wall.  The cross court angles must be mastered.  If a cross court shot is hit too sharply, it comes off the side wall to center court.  If the cross court shot is hit too directly, it will pass through center court.  Both errors offer your opponent a chance to end the rally with a straight in kill or pass shot. 

Poorly executed down the line shots hit the side wall and come to center court, again for set ups.  Another valuable exercise is to place an object on the floor that can represent the position of an opponent.  Our pro can practice hitting shots that are directed away from the opponent.  Of course, here again, “angle” is of critical importance.