USA Racquetball is sorry to learn of the passing of one of racquetball's great contributors, Christopher Cole, of Howell, Michigan. Chris was a champion racquetball athlete multiple times as well as a U.S. Junior Team head coach, instructor, state board member, national board member, and so much more.
So many who knew Chris agree that he played the sport the way it should be played. Jim Hiser, who coached Chris for most of his career, said, “This is a sad day and a great loss."
Chris competed in his first racquetball tournament at the United States National Singles Championships in 1978 at the Sports Illustrated Lemontree Club in Belleville, Michigan. From there, his many racquetball accomplishments included:
- Michigan Junior State Champion at every age: 13 & Under, 15 & Under, 16 & Under, 18 & Under
- At 15, broke Mike Yellen's record for youngest to win a Michigan State Singles Championship in Men's Open
- Won numerous Men's Open titles in Michigan State Singles Championships
- Won five Open titles in Michigan State Doubles Championships with partners Jimmy Floyd, Troy Hall, and Stu Hastings
- Won Bronze at the 2001 National Doubles in Mixed 30+ with Sandy White
- In 1992, won the Tournament of the Americas, U.S. National Singles, and World Championship Singles in April, May, and August, respectively
- Served as U.S. Junior National Team head coach (1994-95)
- Contributed as an instructor for eight years at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs
- From 1990-94, served on the Racquetball Association of Michigan (RAM) Board of Directors (President from 1992-94)
- In 1995, received the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Fair Play Award. The year he won, he was the only athlete (all sports) from the Americas to be so recognized.
- From 2000 to 2003, served on the USRA Board of Directors
- Inducted in 2006 into the Racquetball Association of Michigan Hall of Fame in recognition of his playing ability and contributions to racquetball through the years
Chris’s leadership and representation of racquetball extended to the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) as well. Chris became the first racquetball athlete elected to the USOC Athletes’ Advisory Council (AAC) Board of Directors by the 45-sport AAC membership. He was subsequently elected by the AAC to serve on the USOC Board of Directors. Chris was appointed to the USOC Team Delegation & Review Committee (oversight/approval of all Olympic sports' selection procedures) and the USOC 2012 Summer Games Search Committee that helped select the U.S. Bid City for the 2012 Summer Games from a field of eight candidate cities.
The Board of Directors, Staff, and Volunteers of USA Racquetball join the entire Racquetball Family in mourning the loss of Chris Cole. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Chris’s family and many friends.