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: Sandy Rios
Are you a pro player, coach, association board member, tournament organizer, or racquetball broadcaster AKA why do racquetball players know you?
Current TXRA Board member, Current LPRT Board member, occasoinal LPRT commentator, Current Board member Alamo City Racquetball Association, sponsor Battle at the Alamo, (San Antonio LPRT event) amateur player, all around troublemaker!
Where do you promote racquetball on social media and the web?
Facebook: Sandy Rios
Country of Origin: USA, born in Illinois, but got to Texas as soon as possible
Place you consider home: Kerrville, Texas
When & how where you introduced to the competitive side of racquetball?
First played in College, but got serious in late 80s, 4 courts at the local fitness center in Kerrville, discovered the fun the games has, seemed to be a place where I could have fun, and first got involved in tournaments.
Playing hand: Right.
Year you started playing racquetball: 1986/1987
First female mentor or idol in racquetball: JJ Risch. JJ was a pro-level player who lived and played in San Antonio. She worked designing airplanes parts for the Air Force. She was in unbelievable shape as she would ride her bike the 60 miles from San Antonio to Kerrville, play with me for a couple of hours and then ride her bike BACK the 60 miles to San Antonio. I always felt lucky to score any points on her, and never even came close to beating her, but she was always willing to take time to play against me. Sadly, when I took off 10 years I lost track of her, and would love if anyone knows her to put me back in touch with her.
Favorite racquetball shot: Anything that hits the front wall, but do love the right front corner, either with a forehand or a backhand.
Motivation for the game (what keeps you playing): Just fun, and the players are family, its also a wonderful way to try to keep those extra pounds at bay…yeah, not doing so good there..but it also helps me to keep those wonderful friends from across the country close, and also add new ones to my circle.
Love most about racquetball: Special group of people in San Antonio, we are family, and that I have made more friends country and worldwide playing the game.
Preferred equipment: I have played with Eforce, Ektelon, and now Gearbox. All have produced great racquets, and while the Toron was my favorite, the Gearbox has met or exceeded all my needs. If I could find them, the Newman tackified gloves were the absolute BEST, Love my Mizuno shoes.
Favorite event: Battle at the Alamo, its near and dear to my heart, but will say World Seniors in Albuquerque is one of the most, if not the most fun event ever.
Best results at tournaments you’ve played in: I’ve got plenty of medals, but I’ve also have had plenty of wonderful partners who helped me earn them. Best was 3 golds at the US Open.
Day job: Owner/partner medical billing company.
Charity close to your heart: Sandy Long and Texas Juniors.
Family shoutout: My sisters, Car, Kris and Nena, the kids, Travis, Samantha, and Austin, the grandkids, Alexis, Noah and Seth. And my dear Mom, who at the age of 92 was able to meet me at NMRA in Chicago and actually see me play for the first time. Pretty special to me.
Other sports played in addition to racquetball: softball, volleyball, pickleball
What can we do to activate more female players? We need to get our young top players more exposure, show other girls that this game requires brains as well as athletic ability, and show them that yes… girls can compete in this sport against the boys.
What is your hope for the future of racquetball? I would hope that we can come up with some type of agreement with clubs to work together to get juniors in and save the courts. Whether we need to approach this thru USRA/state organizations needs to be explored. Then we need to reach out to parents who are home schooling to find those kids not exposed to public schools sports and bring them in. We need to reach out to colleges and get more club teams organized. Sadly it requires volunteers, which are in short supply.
How do you feel is the best way to help grow the sport of racquetball? See previous. We also need to beak the lock club sport teams have on kids… the specialization and monopoly on kids hurts smaller sports such as racquetball, and it really isn’t that good for the kids. If we could somehow get colleges to offer scholarships for players it would bring more interest. But we have to get those collegiate teams started, and then get NCAA approval for the sport. But seriously, if cornhole can be why the ??? cant racquetball?
If you could bring one thing back from racquetball past – what would it be and why? I wish we could go back to when we all did everything we could to promote the game, instead of trying to tear it apart from the inside.
What do you do to train? If, and that a big if, I will ride on a stationary bike (Peloton), also play 3-4 days a week. I do try to workout at a gym with a trainer who uses an infinite variety of tools, TRX, maces, clubs, free weights, machines, you name it we have probably used it. At my age, the big training is in the past… then I ran 4-5 miles, 5 days a week, hit the courts 5 days a week, then came home and used the bike for about an hour after racquetball. Pretty sure I’d have to quit my day job to be able to train like that.
What is the biggest challenge you face right now as it comes to racquetball, and how do you work to overcome that challenge? Time—my business has kept me very busy for the last couple of years, and as I drive 60 miles each way to play racquetball, I find sometimes that things that need my attention, and other hobbies get left behind, my garden and yard are something I love to do, but have no time for anything other than basic maintenance. My boys, Rebel and Shooter, fortunately forgive me when I am gone, they are usually just happy I came home.
Do you know someone else we should be celebrating with this interview and feature process? Drop us a line on Facebook!