Dream Team

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!

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.

Getting to know Carla Munoz

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RYDF Athlete Carla Munoz is fresh off her Gold Medal performance at the 2016 National Intercollegiate Championships in Tempe, AZ. We decided to take this time to get to know a bit more about Carla on and off the court.

How did you get started playing racquetball? I started because of my dad, he used to play with friends and one day he signed up for a local tournament and he asked me to go with him, I always did a lot of different physical activities so I was really interested on what racquetball was. The same day I got inside of the court and I completely loved everything about it. After that day, my dad would take me to play and train twice a week and since then racquetball is my passion and my favorite thing to do by far.

When and why did you come to CA? After I had the opportunity to represent my country in Pan-American Games in 2011 I realize that I really wanted to become a professional player, however, I knew that I would need to move to USA because racquetball isn't a big competitive sport in my country. I spent two years coming for short periods of time until 2014 when I decided to settle in the bay area to continue my education and to be able to travel to more tournaments.

Carla and Kelani

Carla and Kelani

Now that you won the US National Intercollegiate Championships what is next on your list of racquetball goals to accomplish? My next goal is to get the top 10 LPRT ranking, and I'm also working hard to get a medal representing my country (Chile) in international competition, which is my biggest motivation.

Where do you go to school and what is your major? Estimated Graduation Date? I'm currently going to Las Positas College in Livermore, CA and my major is Business Administration. I'm planning on transferring next semester to the university to achieve my bachelors and become an accountant in two years.

What do you want to do after you graduate? At first I would like to dedicate some time only to train and play racquetball because being a full time athlete and full time student isn't that easy, and time to rest is very limited. After that I would like to have a job that allows me to play and train. On the future I would like to go back to Chile and develop racquetball and grow it especially among children. I would love to own a racquetball club where I can apply all that I learn at school, and teach people how to play racquetball.

 

I heard that you currently have an internship. Where do you intern at and what do you do there? I'm doing an internship at a company that gives services of interpretation and translation to workers who get injured at work and have to deal with health insurances, and don't speak enough English. My duties are mainly filing, scanning, and accounting work. Even though it hasn't been easy, I'm learning a lot about accounting practices and also how to manage my time.

Do you have a coach and if so whom? Yes, Pablo Fajre

Who are your sponsors? Gearbox racquetball, Reaching Your Dream Foundation, Comite olimpico de Chile, and Insituto Nacional del Deporte.

How has the Reaching Your Dream Foundation had an impact on your racquetball career? The foundation is helping me to achieve my dreams, because without their help I wouldn't be able to play many tournaments. They also help to become a better athlete in and off the court, teaching me ways promote myself better.

What does a weekly practice/training session look like? I train 6 days a weeks. The racquetball training consist on 3 days of playing and 3 days of court drilling where I practice things as rally situations, serves, return serves, and other. I also do a physical training session every day, where I mainly train strength, endurance, speed, agility and coordination.

Let's have some fun now..

What do you like to do when you're not playing racquetball/going to school or working? In my free time I like to be outside and as long as there is nature around I'm happy. I love going to the lake, to the beach, or to parks.

If you could go to dinner with three people alive or deceased, who would they be? Elvis Presley, Anybody from my family, and my boyfriend

What does your perfect day look like? My perfect day would start with some racquetball games, then some sushi for lunch, and then spend all afternoon at the beach with my family and boyfriend playing games or just enjoying the company.

If you could have any super power what would it be? I would like to be The Flash, I think that's the coolest super power ever.

Getting to know David Bobby Horn

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David Bobby Horn was always an athlete. In high school his main sport was basketball and he was frequently found shooting around the gym at the In-Shape West Lane racquetball club in Stockton. A group fitness dance class held in the gym would interrupt David’s time on the basketball court, leaving him two options:  hanging around the club doing nothing, or going home to do nothing.  One day while waiting for the basketball court, Jose Diaz invited him to hit the racquetball around. David, being a natural athlete and competitor, was immediately hooked. From that first day, David loved racquetball. It wasn’t about playing racquetball competitively; it was just for enjoyment.  As a teen who didn’t really know where he was going with his life, racquetball became a positive outlet and a way to stay out of trouble.

David embraced the Stockton racquetball scene and started traveling to tournaments with Diaz and the Rojas family. This was David’s first opportunity to travel, ever.  With the excitement of traveling and his love for the sport, David started to see how racquetball could be a part of his future. Today, through his professional career, David has been all over the United States, places like New York City, Chicago, and the beautiful state of Colorado, where he hopes to fish the next time he is there (fishing is David’s second passion). In addition to traveling the United States, he has played tournaments in Mexico, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Bolivia and Chile.

 

You can still find David at the gym, but now he’s on the racquetball court, playing, practicing or teaching. As a consistent quarter finalist and frequent semi-finalist, David is a top player on the World Racquetball Tour (WRT), and is now at the No. 3 spot.  In the last year, David has made changes to his diet, his training habits and has focused on dedicating his life to racquetball. It was this past August in San Luis Potosi where Horn saw his hard work and dedication pay off.  At the 2015 San Luis Open this season, David won his first WRT title, defeating No. 2, Jake Bredenbeck in the finals 15-9, 15-2. The win in San Luis has further fueled David’s enthusiasm for training and competing. David is hungry for another title.

Mike Lippitt, RYDF Founder and Bobby Horn

Mike Lippitt, RYDF Founder and Bobby Horn

David continued to wet his appetite this season, at the U.S. Open where he battled Alvaro Beltran in Round of 16s. He won game two against Beltran, but ultimately lost in four games. And in the U.S. Open Doubles Quarter Finals, with his partner and Junior Mexican National Champion Andree Parrilla, they battled against Ben Croft and Kane Waselenchuck in a nail biting three game showdown. David and Parrilla won game one, 15-5, lost game two, 15-6, and answered back in game three tied at 10-10, but ended up losing 11-10.  The young duo continued as a team again at the WRT Modesto Open, where they won the Doubles Championship against Jake Bredenbeck and Jose Diaz 14-15, 15-11, 11-4.

From the great support he has received at home in Stockton to the opportunities he has had with the World Racquetball Tour and the Reaching Your Dream Foundation, David is so grateful he can make a career for himself in professional racquetball. In addition to traveling on the WRT, David teaches racquetball at ClubSport Pleasanton and is in his final year at Cal State East Bay. When David returns from the Pan American Championships he will then be off to Tempe, AZ where he will be representing California State University East Bay playing #1 Singles in the collegiate nationals.

Follow David and his hunger for more on his Facebook Fan Page.

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.

Bredenbeck/Diaz 1st U.S. National Doubles Champs

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Jake Bredenbeck (Scandia, MN) and Jose Diaz (Stockton, CA) have qualified for the US National Team by winning the Men’s US Team Qualifying Division at National Doubles this weekend in Tempe, Arizona. Bredenbeck/Diaz. Jake and Jose are sponsored by the Reaching Your Dream Foundation which helps young players develop their careers both on and off the court. In winning, they bested the #1 seeded team of Rocky Carson and Jansen Allen in two very close games, 15-14 15-11.

The newly crowned doubles team is slated to represent the United States at the upcoming International Racquetball Federation World Championships to be held July 15-23 in Cali, Colombia.

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.