Greetings Racquetball Family,
I hope this letter finds you well and looking forward to a calm and peaceful holiday season. As we come to the end of 2020, I’m sure I echo everyone’s thoughts in that I am glad to see it go. We at USA Racquetball send our heartfelt concern and condolences to those who have been impacted by the pandemic. A year ago, none of us could have imagined what 2020 would look like. As we reflect on all that has taken place, I’d like to talk to you about what this year has been like inside our sport.
The postponement or cancelation of many of our USAR National Championships, along with so many local tournaments, was necessary for health and safety. Many of the clubs across the country were forced to close and/or restrict activities to the point that most of us could not access courts. My local club was closed for several months. I can get back in to play, at least a little, and I know it’s been the same for some clubs and some players across the country. Others have had no access to indoor racquetball for a good long while. Racquetball is a big part of our lives, and we are all hoping to return to activities we enjoy as we move into 2021.
Thankfully, outdoor racquetball has been able to be enjoyed in the warmer weather months and in states where weather is hardly ever a factor. We are so thankful to know that our sport is being sustained through play and events on outdoor courts across the country.
As we began the year 2020, my second as USA Racquetball’s executive director, I was excited about the plans we had made. We had a strong, motivated, and excited staff, eager to dive into all of the new and exciting prospects. Then the balloon popped, shifting our gears into survival mode and looking at what we needed to do to navigate the unprecedented challenges. My 2019 year-end letter described exciting changes and improvements planned for this year. Of course, very few of those came to fruition. We were forced to make difficult cuts to staff and salaries in order to offset declining income (i.e., memberships, event sanctioning, waning donations).
One of the main USA Racquetball fundraising activities of 2020 was the Giving Games Medal of Giving. Much gratitude goes to everyone who helped by participating and donating. USA Racquetball also received a very generous gift from Root Laboratories that has helped keep us operating through 2020.
In spite of the pandemic and current hard times, there is uplifting news to report, too: the selection of the Adult and Junior National Teams in recognition of their hard work; the Scholarship Committee’s annual application process to reward deserving young players who are college-bound; the success of the 3WallBall event in Las Vegas; the continuing dedicated work of USAR committees like Fundraising, Finance, Membership, Election, WOR (Outdoor), Hall of Fame, Membership, Rules, US Team, and more; the Serving Up the News monthly newsletter; the live streamed Real Racquetball Show; and our continuing social media presence.
Of course, the year 2021 will continue to be a challenge. Our membership has declined by 3,500 members: the lowest it’s ever been. We recognize that many of our players only maintain a membership so they can play in sanctioned tournaments, but USA Racquetball is so much more than that. Please see the included infographic to view all of the vital work that USA Racquetball and our many partners and volunteers perform to keep our sport going as an uplifting part of our lives.
As our members are able, we need your help to build our membership levels back to a point where USAR can continue to bring all of the benefits that make our sport viable and multi-faceted. Please consider renewing your membership (and talk to your friends about renewing) as we work to make 2021 a regrowth year for racquetball. We have a long way to go to get to the other side of this pandemic, but our common love for this game will help carry us through to better times again.
We'll make it if we all join hands (figuratively speaking!) and keep racquetball moving in the right direction. Together, We Are USA Racquetball!
I wish you and your families a healthy, safe, and blessed holiday season.
Executive Director, USA Racquetball