OSU women’s club racquetball national champions

Lauren Sluss News Reporter

Beating 39 schools across the country, the OSU women’s racquetball club claimed their tenth national title last weekend after competing in Tempe, Arizona, while the men’s team took fourth place.     

This marks the women’s ninth consecutive national title, and the tenth out of the past 11 championships. The only year the women did not win the national title was the year they did not participate.

Although most teams compete with six players, the OSU women’s team competed at nationals with just four players, putting them at an automatic disadvantage, said OSU racquetball club President Erika Lipski.

“This championship means a lot,” Lipski said. “My freshmen year and last year we expected to win, but this year we weren’t sure. That makes winning again so much more special.”

The number of titles the women’s team holds does not undermine their value, according to OSU racquetball club head coach Rob Durbin.

“The national title was even more special this year because it wasn’t guaranteed for us,” Durbin said. “I have learned to never take any title for granted, and this national championship reminded me of that.”

The Beaver’s ability to play for the betterment of the whole team allowed them to be successful, according to Durbin.

“Every player is playing for each other and working to contribute to the overall sport, not just themselves,” Durbin said.

Durbin has been playing racquetball for over 30 years, and began coaching the OSU racquetball club in 2008 after the insistence of the players. His dedication to the sport has allowed him to encourage others to play, according to Durbin.

“When a student approaches me about wanting to play racquetball, I ask them three things—do you go to OSU? Do you want to play a sport? And do you want the chance to represent your school at a national championship?” Durbin said, “It is an amazing opportunity to be able to do that.”

Under the guidance of Durbin, Lipski has been able to represent OSU at the national championship the past three years, and this year she claimed her sixth doubles championship title.

When Lipski began playing racquetball her freshmen year of high school, however, she did not anticipate how involved she would become with the sport over the next several years.

“My dad convinced me to play for my school’s racquetball team because they needed one more girl. I agreed to try it for one year, but I didn’t expect to actually enjoy it,” Lipski said. “After that first year, it was so much fun, and I have been able to make friendships that have lasted the past nine or ten years.”

These friendships make racquetball more special than just the sport itself, according to freshmen player Lexi York.

“Racquetball is important to me because it is like a second home,” York said. “It’s where my second family lives.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams practice together at Dixon Recreation Center from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday nights. They often practice at Timberhill Athletic Club in Corvallis as well, which holds community racquetball tournaments two times a year, giving the club team extra practice.

Resources and recognition are often difficult to gain for club sports, but the national championship status of the racquetball club is just as important for OSU, according to Durbin.

“Club sport athletes go to the same classrooms as varsity athletes—they are all students who represent OSU at a high level.”

Although OSU’s racquetball club is nationally ranked, the team still accepts all skill levels to participate, according to Lipski.

“I started off as a freshman in high school and I was not good at all,” Lipski said.  “It’s one of those sports where it’s rough if you’re not good when you start right off the bat, but you get better every game you play.”

Students looking to join either the men’s or women’s racquetball club can find more information at the OSU sports club webpage, and signing up under racquetball.

“With the national title, it is very awesome to be a part of a team that loves everyone,” Lipski said. “We’ve grown up together, and I think it would be cool if other people joined our club and realized that we’re not just competing against every other team, but we are truly a family.”

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