Most 74 year-old men are enjoying the good life, retirement, fishing, taking in the golden years as some would call it. But when you have a deep passion for something, nothing can stop you from sharing it and loving the feeling it gives you. Even with a total hip replacement, a loving wife for over 25 years, 2 grown children, 8 grandchildren, and 1 great grandson, Ron Bouchard still finds the time to give back to something he truly loves--racquetball.
"I have been playing racquetball for 35 years and I have met so many wonderful people at tournaments, clinics, and leagues. They have become friends that feel like a big family as you get to know them," said Ron.
Having a passion for racquetball is something that has consumed Ron and he has made a point to give back in his community.
"It seems like Ron is at the club every day. He comes in around the same time I do around 5am and is back for the evening crowd at 5pm," said Kelley Beane, Team USA Junior National Coach. "Coach Ron volunteers his time to my programs here after school and also travels to the Junior Nationals to watch the kids compete. Ron volunteers countless hours during tournaments and is someone you can count on whenever you need him. The kids are very lucky to have a coach like Ron on the court with them every week," Beane went on to say.
Ron has quite an impressive racquetball resume, and he seems to have been bitten by the racquetball bug.
Personal Racquetball Bio
- Ron plays at the Executive Health & Sports Center an 8 court facility in Manchester, NH and assists US Junior National Coach Kelley Beane with the juniors practice sessions and workouts. He has traveled to Michigan and Phoenix for the USA Junior Nationals to support the juniors in competition.
- Event Director for the New Hampshire Senior Racquetball Games for the past three years. The event averaged 12-15 players every year prior to Ron's involvement. Last year the event participation increased to 42 players and included divisions for women and doubles.
- Organizer of programs such as Women and Racquetball Day, League Director for a 5am racquetbal club league, competing after a total hip replacement in 2007, Won the Mixed B/C Doubles division with his wife Pat at the Capital Open in Concord, NH.
- Serves as a board member of the NHRA with seven years of service, sponsored by Ektelon Racquetball, Certified Referee, NHRA Tournament Staff. Schedules and coordinates demo nights.
The giving back part seems easy for Ron since he has devoted so much time to racquetball and he practices what he preaches. "I tell my juniors that this is a sport that they never have to stop playing. I believe that it's one of the few sports that a person can play all their life, said Ron.
Although you may slow down a bit, you can always get on the court and have fun. Being 74 years-old I can attest to that. One of my goals with the juniors is to instill the same passion that I have for the sport in them."
Ron has also taken an interest in the men's and women's professional tours by befriending #3 ranked WPRO Cheryl Gudinas and also Kelley Beane, a national champion in her age group.
"One of the greatest things about this sport is that the pro's don't separate themselves from the local or amateur players. They're always ready to talk and answer questions," said Ron. "The comraderie among all the players is unbelievable. No matter where you go to play you can expect to leave there having made new friends."
With most professional sports, you can't get within feet of Tiger Woods, or Roger Federer or even Maria Sharapova without security. Racquetball pro's are very accessible, easy to approach and willing to meet their fans at any event.
Ron has made a habit of spreading the good word and encourages others to do the same. "If you want to give back to the sport be a volunteer in your club or help your state association. Find out what you can do to help. Promote the game to others and help new players learn the game, says Ron. Don't shut them out when they're looking for a match. You can play at their level and show them the finer points of the game. Remember you were a beginner once too."
So true Ron......so true and well spoken. Maybe others who follow Ron's words will help in their community and give back to the sport in some way, just like Ron.