Board

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.

Going Into 2015 - Where We Are And Where We Are Going

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It’s been a crazy year for us. In our mission to create positive change through racquetball, we’ve taken the approach of focusing on facilitating and enhancing professional experiences for dedicated you players. In the few short months that we’ve actually put our money where our mouth is, there has been much in the way of learning, processing and progressively figuring out how to best provide support to young, aspiring professionals. We are finding it is a deeply passionate endeavor.

In the few months we have actually been supporting players, we have made a difference with a solid number of young professionals and their ability to afford accessing a professional experience. We know we’ve made a difference already, though we only are getting more exciting to know, that we have only begun to build on the value that comes from this.

Much of our efforts have hinged on the experiences the players get while they are on tour. We’ve learned that the lives they lead while traveling and playing are rich with learning opportunities that encompass all manner of social interaction and growth. All our focus has been pointed towards solidifying and formalizing programs that enhance their experiences in meaningful ways. For us, that means turning their experiences into life long lessons and individual growth. We have been comprehensively working on better identifying where the opportunities present themselves and facilitating structured programs to maximize their professional learning experience.

Some examples would be:

• The interactions players have with fans, and how these are opportunities to affect lives with information and encouragement.

• The need for discipline that transcends just racquetball, and how meaningful this quality translates into their lives.

• Culture and the need for having an open and understanding view of differences that ultimately are opportunities for growth.

• Social interaction, communication and the learning that can happen when you are acutely aware of those around you and your place in the world. From simple things like learning to command common daily tasks together, to working as a group for a common goal. These things happen during things like doing laundry all the way through cohesively giving workshops and demos together. Especially when two or three of our players are dealing with language barriers. (Racquetball is sometimes a uniquely individual sport, but inherently social. We understand there is a deep meaning to this.)

But simply pointing to a sport and saying, there is just no money for these types of experiences to happen seems unacceptable to us. There is a deep need to identify the need for these experiences to continue. Some of us feel the sport of racquetball seriously needs this. Because the young, driven professional is important to racquetball. There is opportunity there. In racquetball, like other professional sports, the professional has a real opportunity to positively affect lives through engagement. While at the same time, secure the future for their sport. For themselves and for the sport overall. It is for these reasons we have begun the process of expanding our community engagement and career development programming. We believe there are real and concrete ways we can make a positive difference and hone in on filling need.

All of us at RYDF are deeply passionate and committed to these goals. We will be specifically sharing much of of the successes that are happening now, as well as in the next few months. We are committed and fully understand that with help from people who believe in our principles and what we stand for, we can make a serious difference in their lives and our sport. We seriously need your encouragement and your support. The obvious way to do this is to support us with a tax deductible donation. Another way is to just follow us, hear and see what we are doing, and talk about us. Talk to your friends and to us, if you have questions and/or observations. We need your support.

Stay with us. If you want to believe in the future of racquetball. We want to call you a friend. We need you to believe in the future of our young professionals and the positive life affirming engagement that can happen the the sport of racquetball.

Thank you.  Happy Holidays from all of us at Reaching Your Dream.

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!

LPRT & RYDF Announce Scholarship Winners

Sofia Rascon

Sofia Rascon

The Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) and the Women's Senior Masters Racquetball Association (WSMRA) are pleased to announce the winners of the LPRT Scholarship Program. Congratulations 2014-2015 LPRT Scholarship winners!

  • Sofia Rascon, Playas de Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico
  • Hailey Miller, Ramona, CA, USA
  • Sheryl Lotts, Columbus, OH, USA
  • Maria Renee Rodriguez, Santa Catarina Pinula, Guatemala
  • Alexandra Herrera, San Nicolas de los Garza, Nuevo Leon, Mexico
  • Lucia Gonzalez, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico

LPRT President T. J. Baumbaugh commented “We received many high quality applications from deserving players who are eager to play the Tour full time. We are grateful to the scholarship committee who had a very difficult job to do in selecting the winners and we are excited for the six players to compete this season.”

The LPRT Scholarship is granted annually through the LPRT. The objective of the scholarship award is to grant a scholarship to female players who aspire to be full-time players on the LPRT. The scholarship program is administered by the LPRT. Scholarships are awarded by an independent committee that is only affiliated with the LPRT for the purposes of reviewing scholarship applications and awarding scholarships. Applicants must be between the ages of 18-25. Applicants are judged on academic achievements, racquetball and non-racquetball related extracurricular activities and the applicant's specific racquetball achievements.

Scholarship winners will receive free entry into five (5) LPRT Tier 1 or Grand Slam events, not including the US Open or USAR National Singles., a free 1 year membership into the LPRT, free lodging at the five (5) LPRT events, a travel stipend for each of those events and Fireballs from Ektelon, the Official Ball of the LPRT. Scholarship winners will be expected to participate in five (5) LPRT Tier 1 or Grand Slam events during the season that scholarship is earned, not including the US Open or USAR National Singles.

If you would like to support the LPRT Scholarship Program, you can make a donation through the Reaching Your Dream Foundation. The Foundation is a 501(c)3 charitable organization and donations are tax deductible. Go to http://reachingyourdreamfoundation.org/cause/supportladies/ and select the “Donate Now” button.

The LPRT would like to thank the scholarship committee and the supporters and donors who make this program possible. We would not be able to do this without you.

The Birth of Reaching Your Dream Foundation

RYDF Founder Mike Lippitt

RYDF Founder Mike Lippitt

For years the very popular sport of racquetball has been on decline.  One of the biggest reasons is the lack of financial support for young, motivated and talented players who simply don’t see a future for themselves in the sport they love due to major economic challenges.  To address this lack of minimal but necessary resources to stay in and succeed in racquetball, a new nonprofit corporation has been created to address some of these deficits. 

It is called Reaching Your Dream Foundation, incorporated in California and awaiting its tax exempt status from the IRS.  This 501.3© will be accepting donations from individuals and corporations to help pay for such expenses as entry fees, housing, transportation, food, and even eventually supplementing prize pool awards to make it more worthwhile to stay in the sport. Vision of Reaching Your Dream Foundation is: Vitalized by an ongoing infusion of world-class talent, Racquetball grows in popularity, visibility, and respect.

And Mission is: Subsidize and mentor a new generation of racquetball players to compete at the highest level of play. Subsidize and mentor a new generation of racquetball players to compete at the highest level of play.

For more information, please contact Mike Lippitt.