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!
Name: Laura McCormick
Are you a pro player, coach, association board member, tournament organizer, or racquetball broadcaster AKA why do racquetball players know you?
Example broadcast from the WRT on YouTube
Where do you promote racquetball on social media and the web?
Country of Origin: USA
Place you consider home: New Jersey
Have you ever been a part of international events:
Yes, I have been working at the International Racquetball Federation events like the Pan American Racquetball Championships, World Championships and Junior World Championships since 2016. I love to see the camaraderie of the teams all together.
When & how where you introduced to the competitive side of racquetball?
I was officially introduced to racquetball when I came to the WRT Pleasanton Open in 2014. I was asked by a friend who was helping the tour with their broadcast production to come by and conduct post game interviews with players. The tour like my enthusiasm and had me jump on the broadcast to commentate on some matches. They seemed to like my style and perspective, meanwhile I was impressed with not only the athletic talents of the players but the professionalism of the tour and their set up for broadcasting events. Although I didn’t come from the racquetball community, I have a background in sports as a volleyball player up to the collegiate level plus I had googled everything I could about racquetball the night before! The WRT asked me to join them on the road to travel with the tour and work on the broadcast. My first official event was the 2014 Juarez Open that May. The rest is history! Since then I have learned so much about the sport, become a part of the community and even started playing.
Playing hand: Right
Year you started playing racquetball: 2016
First female mentor or idol in racquetball:
Touring with the WRT primarily exposed me to the men’s side of the sport, but once I started going to IRF events I met a lot of great women in the sport. Carla Munoz from Chile is one of my favorite players. We became friends and I have enjoyed watching her incredible dedication to the sport as she moves up the racquetball ranks. Her determination to be the best player she can be makes her one of my favorite females to watch in competition.
Favorite racquetball shot: Down the line. It’s so simple and so effective. I think it’s one of the most underrated shots.
Motivation for the game (what keeps you playing):
Honestly, the community of players is what keeps me motivated to play. The fans and the players (including the pros) are so encouraging, they love to see more people playing their sport and they are always willing to give tips and keep pushing me to play more.
Love most about racquetball:
Interacting with the fans. I love when we have the live stream on Facebook and fans have an opportunity to give live feedback while we commentate matches. A lot of what we do is for the fans, to get keep them engaged and entertained while watching their favorite sport. Plus, the fans at events who appreciate what we do and share how they have followed our progress really means a lot to me. If you ever see me at an event, don’t be afraid to say hi!
It’s no surprise that Gearbox is my favorite. I really believe they have the best products. They do a lot of research and development to be the best in the business. The racquets are so lightweight. The clothes are so fresh and modern that I wear them all the time! Especially the hats. I basically don’t leave my house without a Gearbox product in my bag.
My favorite events are the international events. There are so many elements that make these my favorite. Primarily, it’s so special to see all the countries come together as a team. When you look out and see all the country colors, the jerseys and warm ups out in the crowd supporting one another, it’s a feeling I can’t fully explain. I also like that you have both men and women at the competition, and singles and doubles. At the international events there is such a unique sense of unity within the sport and a great pride in representing your country. Of course, the Junior Worlds takes it one step further because you have so many young athletes who usually travel with their parents or families to these events and they also experience a wide range of emotions that you don’t always see on the adult level–and the kids are just so adorable and so talented!
I help manage other business aspects of the WRT. I also freelance as a Production Assistant and Video Editor. Plus, I work with a small Fair Trade company called Silk Road Bazaar that sells handmade crafts from artists in Kyrgyzstan.
Charity close to your heart:
Right now I’m all about the IRF’s mission to get racquetball into the 2028 Olympics. They are a 501c3 and looking to raise money to pursue the Olympic Dream. It takes a lot of work behind the scenes to make this dream a reality and supporting the IRF’s mission means we have a chance at impacting the future of racquetball in the Olympics.
Shoutout to my parents and my sisters who have always supported my aspirations in film and broadcast!
Other sports played in addition to racquetball:
Volleyball is my first love, then tennis and basketball.
What can we do to activate more female players?
I think one way is to bring your friends to events, to the courts, to league play. Just get them on the court with a racquet, once they’re in there they will find out how addictive racquetball is. Plus, I hope when they hear a female lead commentator on the broadcast it keeps them watching. I try to make sure I’m inclusive to all levels of racquetball fans when I’m on the air, so even if it’s their first time they can stay interested!
What is your hope for the future of racquetball?
I would love to see racquetball in the Olympics. I feel like we are so close. The dream is to be in the 2028 Olympics.
How do you feel is the best way to help grow the sport of racquetball?
There are two ways I believe would have an impact. The first is to continue to support local events and pro events, and that participation can include playing in the event, donating to the event or sharing the event (live feed, pictures, posts, etc) on social media. The key is to stay involved and stay in front of people (on social media). The second is to keep growing the junior programs and get more kids playing. I think that can even start in the schools. I remember growing up and we played outside against the wall on the side of the school. I know it’s not very official, but I feel it helps legitimize the sport in a way. Schools already play the “big” sports like basketball, volleyball, football, soccer, but we can use what we have to get racquetball in the minds of more kids and get them out to more programs on real racquetball courts. It takes educating the schools and the public about what racquetball has in terms of pro tours and international events like the Pan Am Games, the World Games and hopefully one day the Olympics. As we continue to grow racquetball we want the kids to see that there is a future for them in this sport.
If you could bring one thing back from racquetball past – what would it be and why?
The media coverage and big sponsors. Trust that I know it’s not that simple but having the money and sponsors to make events as special as other pro sports gets the sport in front of more people, people who might not play or used to play or might want to play or just like watching amazing competitions. It takes money to make a big splash and this sport deserves more credit which comes from more public interest.
What do you do to prepare for events?
Once we are at the event, there is a lot of time and energy that goes into setting up the broadcast. But I always take the time to talk to the people. I talk with the players to get a feel for how they have been preparing and what they are thinking going into a competition. I engage with the local fans who know their own community, their courts and the elements that make each site unique. And the tournament organizer who has worked so hard to make this event a success. I also watch as many matches as possible, so I stay on top of what it took the players to get to the broadcast matches. Then, before the broadcast I set aside some time to dig into my materials and put together profiles of the players who are competing to talk on air about their history, achievements and some personal anecdotes. I compile stats care of Todd Boss at proracquetballstats.com who has put together an extensive database. And then it’s showtime!
What is the biggest challenge you face right now as it comes to racquetball, and how do you work to overcome that challenge?
The biggest challenge is money in the sport. We want to increase prize money on the WRT. We want to increase production. We want events to have a bigger impact. But it all takes money. Sometimes its hard for me to block out the noise when people have opinions on how we can make things better because all I hear is we need more money to make those things happen. Trust me, I want all those ideas to come to fruition, but it takes more money. I try to focus on what we have and what great things we can do with what we have. We have talented players, we have a solid broadcast, we have a supportive community. We will always work to make it the best we can and keep working towards our goal of making this sport bigger.
Do you know someone else we should be celebrating with this interview and feature process? Drop us a line on Facebook!