RANGELY I The highest local participation the Rangely Racquetball Tournament has ever seen highlighted last weekend’s event at the Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan (WRBM) Recreation Center.
Rangely residents made up half of the 26 players participating in the three-day tournament, with the majority of out-of-town players coming from Grand Junction. Other participants came from Thornton, Colo. and Vernal, Utah.
Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC) aviation instructor Jason Krueger, who learned the sport as a CNCC aviation technology student in 2004, began playing racquetball again after returning to Rangely in 2008. Having played in several local tournaments, Krueger said the event’s camaraderie is a primary draw to sign up.
“It’s a fun way to exercise, and I do enjoy the competition,” said Krueger, who took first place in the Men’s C Division. “But the fact that everybody gets along really well and has fun getting together is a big part of it.”
He is not alone in the feeling. As players gathered together in the center’s upstairs hallway after hard-fought singles or doubles matches, one could overhear plenty of ribbing and good-natured congratulations. Left behind was the intense, focused competitiveness each player had felt on the courts below.
Longtime racquetball player and promoter Shirley Parsons, who has organized all 22 Rangely tournaments, introduced Krueger to the sport, just as she has formally and informally tutored dozens of others into racquetball for more than 30 years. She, too, looks forward to the tournament for the common ground players find there.
“I always feel that if people come once, they’ll come again,” she said. “And most do if their schedules allow it.”
As is the case nearly every year at the Rangely tournament, players leave with not only wins and losses but goodies, too, ranging from sweatpants and WRBM-embroidered towels to stacks of door prizes donated by an array of local businesses. Everyone who played will soon receive custom-made plates by ceramic artist Elizabeth Robinson Wiley as one-of-a-kind trophies.
Parsons attributed the event’s continued success to the donors, supporter Jeanne Smith’s help and the WRBM district and employees who host the event.
“I think what works is that we offer so much in the way of perks and the fact that it’s a very locals-friendly tournament,” Parsons said. “(Participants) get a good-quality souvenir, there’s good food and plenty of it and families can come use the game room and the pool. It’s the friendliness of everybody, not only the employees but everybody involved, that players find so appealing.”
WRBM recreation and aquatics director Camilly Kennedy agreed that the tournament had a personal, hands-on feel.
“We were excited to see how many locals played this year,” she said. “The atmosphere that these players generate is that of a family.”
As Parsons returns to the game after undergoing shoulder surgery eight months ago, she is rallying local players to spend more time in the courts.
“I want to just keep growing the numbers back again, keep giving lessons and getting people to play,” she said. “I want to spread my love of racquetball around.”
22nd Rangely Racquetball Tournament Results
Men’s Open: 1st Ed Roffey (Grand Junction), 2nd Nick Brutosky (Grand Junction)
Men’s A: 1st Pat Franz (Rangely), 2nd Tywayne DeCuir (Rangely)
Men’s B: 1st Byron Corbett (GJ), 2nd Jay McLaughlin (Rangely)
Men’s C: 1st Jason Krueger (Rangely), 2nd Clark Edwards (Rangely)
Men’s D: 1st Peter Larralde (Rangely), 2nd Kevin Dawson (Rangely).
Women’s A: 1st Sheli Bodily (Vernal), 2nd Lisa Burnett (Grand Junction)
Women’s B: 1st Ginny Brunetti (Thornton), 2nd Adena Duncan (Grand Junction)
Women’s D: 1st Heather Zadra (Rangely), 2nd Brittanie Meinzer (Rangely).
Doubles A/B: 1st Ed Roffey and Aiaga Roffey (Grand Junction), 2nd Andrew Rodriguez (Thornton) and Sheli Bodily (Vernal)
Doubles C/D: 1st Tywayne DeCuir and Clark Edwards (Rangely), and 2nd Jay McLaughlin (Rangely) and Ginny Brunett (Thornton).