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PUT AWAY YOUR TOYS: Sunday brought perfect weather for hot-air ballooning over the Old Mendon Highway -- but when it's over, you still have to pack up. / Photo by Nancy Williams

Today's word on journalism

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Paranoia means having all the facts."

--William S. Burroughs, Beat Generation writer (1914-1997)

New club team hopes to give racquetball a name at USU

By Kathryn Kemp

September 11, 2006 | Last semester Doug Holt represented USU at the National Racquetball Tournament alone. This school year, as he rebuilds the racquetball club team, he hopes to change that.

"I want to take a team to nationals so bad," Holt said.

Holt, a junior majoring in chemistry, has taken over leadership of the USU racquetball club team after it fell apart last year. After the school year ended two years ago, the former president never really did much to keep the club going, so last year there was no team, said Holt. After that, he decided to step up and take over.

Because the club was already officially in place, Holt's biggest challenge was to find team members and a coach.

In order to find a coach, Holt did everything from calling friends for referrals to e-mailing the Utah Racquetball Association and asking for names of local players who might be interested in coaching.

RETURN THIS!: Club President Doug Holt follows through on his first serve on the racquetball courts in the HPER. / Photo by Kathryn Kemp

"I basically tried every avenue," he said. After getting two names, Holt began making phone calls, and on the first try found Jonathan Meatoga, the team's new coach.

"He was actually on the team when he was here at school," he said. Meatoga was out of town for the team's first meeting Thursday, so most of the players, including Vice President Ward Cuff, haven't even met him yet.

"That's probably proof of the infancy of the club," Cuff said. "There's a lot of new people.

The team member part wasn't too hard for him. Cuff, a junior majoring in Asian studies and pre-med, was looking specifically for something like a racquetball team when he transferred to USU from Dixie State College.

He began corresponding with Holt about the team during the summer and when school started and Holt needed more help running the team, Cuff becamevice-president. Together, Holt and Cuff advertised the new team as much as possible. They handed out flyers, visited racquetball classes, put up A-frames, and even had a booth at Day on the Quad during Week of Welcome last week. Their work earned a response from students who were interested in finding out what the team was all about.

Whitney Cowley, a sophomore majoring in aerospace engineering, began playing racquetball with her friends three years ago just for fun. She joined the team as a fun way to get exercise, but also to improve her game and take part in competition.

"I like that I can hold my own. I can compete pretty well," she said.

Brad Terry, a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism, joined the team because he enjoys the higher level of competition in the club.

"It's super fast-paced. You have to think about so much going on around you," he said. "It challenges you mentally and physically.

According to Cuff, racquetball is unique in the world of sports because it is in tight quarters where things are moving very fast, and you have to use strategy and technique. That is one of the things Cuff likes best in one-on-one play. He says he likes how it feels "to be able to do something that the other guy can't do in the end.

Whether beginners or pros, the game is "fun on all levels," Holt said. You don't have to be a certain type of person with a certain set of skills to be able to play this game.

"It doesn't matter how tall or short you are, how fat or skinny -- the playing field is leveled," he said. The club team had about 20 people at their first meeting on Thursday night, all at different skill levels, but all excited to be involved.

The team will be holding two types of tournaments during the semester. They will be involved in intercollegiate play with schools like BYU, UVSC, and Boise State University.

There will also be local tournaments that will be held for the all team members, students, and community members. For these tournaments, team members will receive a discount on the tournament fees.

There are no tryouts this semester for the team; anyone who signs up and pays the club fee of $20 is on the team. In January, however, there will be tryouts for a 6-man, 6-woman team to send to the national tournament that will be held at the end of March.

"I went to nationals alone last year," Holt said, shaking his head. "I was a lone ranger." Although Holt received what he called "a big serving of humble pie," at the tournament, he learned a lot, and this year he hopes to bring other people with him and make a name for Utah State.

"My first and foremost goal: I want six men, six women at nationals," he said. But along with that plan, Holt and Cuff have other goals and hopes for the team as well.

They want to give racquetball more exposure. Cuff said he thinks that racquetball seems to be trapped in the world of high-priced clubs for members only, and it shouldn't be that way. They want students to be familiar with the game, so that anyone and everyone can enjoy it.

They also want to give the USU team a name among colleges and throughout the state.

"I want people to say, 'Hey, Utah State's got a team, and they play pretty good,'" Cuff said.

Finally, getting right down to the basics, they want to give club members the opportunity to learn the skills, improve their game, and be able to compete. And at the same time, they just want everyone to have fun. And if there is any doubt about just how much fun, just ask Holt, and with a big smile on his face, he'll say, "If racquetball was a major, it would be my major!"

For questions, those interested can contact President Doug Holt at sirdoug@gmail.com or Vice President Ward Cuff at wwcuff@cc.usu.edu.


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Copyright 1997-2006 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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