Racquetball Team Excels Despite Lack of Sports Interest at UCSC
By Tierney Werner
Unigo Campus Rep at UCSC
One of the most interesting, and definitely untapped sports at UCSC would have to be the UCSC Racquetball team. I sat down with Reid Parson, the president of the team to ask him a few questions about his experience with the sport of racquetball.
Reid grew up in northwest Colorado, what he calls a very “rural location.” He was first exposed to the game of racquetball at age 9 when his mother, who is currently ranked in the top five women over 55 years of age in the nation and who is playing even more aggressively now that she's retired from teaching, had trouble finding partners to play against. Reid began playing competitively in high school and continued to play throughout his college career in Cornell, although claiming that it became more difficult because squash players tended to dominate the court.
Reid came to UCSC to work on his graduate degree in 2005 and was pleased to find six very accessible racquetball courts on campus. He immediately started to play and find other players. Along with Adrian Villalba, a former undergraduate, Reid organized the campus club team with the help of the school racquetball instructor, John Bardos. Pretty soon, they were asked to represent E-Force, a San Diego based Racquetball Company, in tournaments such as the Western Collegiate Racquetball Conference (WCRC).
As an undiscovered sport at UCSC, I was curious to understand what made racquetball so special, not just for Reid, but for UCSC as well. “Nothing makes me sweat more, or makes me sorer, than playing racquetball. It was true even in high school when I was running sprints in track. I felt like I was in great shape, and then I'd play my Mom racquetball and I'd be gasping for air!” said Reid. “You can play all year 'round, chasing this rubber ball in a court and it's such a blast! Sometimes students at UCSC will wander into the courts and see the club team smashing the ball, diving, jumping, and sprinting and they will end up spending 20 min. just watching us having a great time. I get to meet a lot people that I might not otherwise have connected with by playing racquetball.”
Reid is really looking forward to a competitive year ahead, especially in the Men’s division. “Starting our third year, we have a number of returning players whose improvement has been truly remarkable. We're looking forward to a great season with at least 3 members (and perhaps up to 5) competing in Division 1 - the highest ranking division in collegiate racquetball.”
So, does Reid feel there are any major weaknesses facing the team for this year? “Our team's weakness is in our current absence of women. Because tournament points are determined by the top placers in both the men's and women's division, it is critical that we find some women players in order place high in tournaments. So, to all the women UCSC students out there - consider playing racquetball and joining our team!”
Reid hopes to improve their standing in the face of some pretty tough competition, with the likes of Davis, Stanford and San Jose State University. The team placed third in their division behind Berkeley and Sacramento State last year and they are only looking to get better this year.