WCW #27 – AKA Women Making Racquetball History Now! – Maria Renee Rodriguez

Maria Renee Rodriguez Racquetball

Daily Racquetball’s Women Crush Wednesday Racquetball Influencers!

AKA Women Making Racquetball History Now!

We will feature another woman making racquetball history every Wednesday. Do you know someone else we should be celebrating with this interview and feature process? Drop us a line on Facebook!

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Name: María Renée Rodríguez Sarmiento

Are you a pro player, coach, association board member, tournament organizer, or racquetball broadcaster AKA why do racquetball players know you?
Pro player and Athlete Representative of the International Racquetball Federation.

Where do you promote racquetball on social media and the web?
Facebook Athlete page
Instagram

Country of Origin: Guatemala
Place you consider home: Guatemala City

Have you ever been on your country’s national team? When?:
Yes, I started playing for the junior team when I was 13. I played at Junior Worlds until I was too old to compete there. I made the adult team for the first time when I was 15 years old and have been on the team every year since then. I have been to the World Championships, PanAm Championships, Centralamerican Games, Centralamerican and Caribbean Games, Bolivarian Games, and PanAm Games in Toronto.

Did you play as a junior? When & how where you introduced to the competitive side of racquetball?
Yes. My dad took me to watch the PanAm Championships that were held in Guatemala near my house in 2006. That’s when I first heard about racquetball. My dad had never told me he had been Guatemalan champion and competed internationally with the team either. A year and a half after I started playing I went to my first Junior Worlds in Tempe, Arizona 2008.

Playing hand: Right

Year you started playing racquetball: 2007

First female mentor or idol in racquetball:
I looked up to a couple of the LPRT ladies since I started to play. I enjoyed watching and learning from them. Now I compete against them which is pretty amazing.

Favorite racquetball shot: Forehand pinch.

Motivation for the game (what keeps you playing):
I love this game. It is a challenge and makes you work hard in many different aspects every single day. It has made me a better human being, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many different places and meet amazing people.

Love most about racquetball:
The intensity of every match and the how racquetball feels like family. I also love how it has opened up so many other opportunities.

Preferred equipment:
Gearbox Racquetball. I love my new M40 170 Teardrop racquet!
Most of the time I use Asics shoes (the most comfortable I have found for racquetball).

Favorite event:
PanAm Games Toronto 2015 has been the best one. It’s a huge event and very important. Being in the athlete village with people from so many countries and different sports was an awesome experience.

Best results at tournaments you’ve played in:
Bronze in doubles at the World Championships Costa Rica 2018
Silver in doubles at PanAm Championships 2018
Silver in doubles at CentralAmerican and Caribbean Games 2018 and 2014
Mixed doubles champion US Open 2017

Day job:
I graduated from my bachelor’s degree in psychology this year. For the moment I am just playing racquetball but my next goal is to get my Masters in Counseling in the US.
I spend time as a volunteer in the Guatemalan Olympic Academy programs, which focus on spreading the Olympic values and promoting education and social impact through sports, especially with kids in vulnerable zones in my country. The volunteer athletes like myself do videos, talks and sport activities around the country about Olympism and our experience as athletes. It’s great to see how sports can make an impact, and this is a good way for us to give back and try to inspire young people. Last year I was a participant at the International Olympic Academy in Olympia, Greece. This year they selected me as Guatemala’s Young Change Maker for the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018.

Charity close to your heart: Techo Guatemala, United Play Guatemala.

Family shoutout: My parents and sisters.

Other sports played in addition to racquetball:
Pickleball, squash and running. While I was growing up I practiced soccer, bouldering, basketball, and swimming.

What can we do to activate more female players?
Introduce the game to more females. Promote the LPRT and the female players on social media. Empower girls and tell them it is ok to play against boys. I trained and competed mostly with men while growing up and still do. Sometimes I was the only woman with a bunch of guys in the court, and I didn’t mind; I just wanted to get better.

What is your hope for the future of racquetball?
I want to see this sport grow and eventually make it to the Olympic Games.

How do you feel is the best way to help grow the sport of racquetball?
Junior programs.

What do you do to train?
I follow a physical training program designed specifically for racquetball by Dr. Tim Baghurst from GOAT Sports Performance, which includes weights and plyometrics. I train on the court with the Guatemalan team five days a week.

What is the biggest challenge you face right now as it comes to racquetball, and how do you work to overcome that challenge?
Getting to tournaments is difficult because it is expensive to travel all the way from Guatemala. Guatemala supports us with several tournaments a year but not with the whole season. So I am trying to find sponsors who can help me compete at every LPRT pro stop and improve my ranking.

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Do you know someone else we should be celebrating with this interview and feature process? Drop us a line on Facebook!