When I was in college (way back in the day) a few us picked up the sport of racquetball. We had no idea how to play the game, but we had a blast chasing that little bouncing ball all over the court. We had no aspirations of turning pro. Instead, it was simply a good out-of-the-ordinary cardio workout for us to enjoy as friends.
I was recently invited to pick up the sport again by the senior pastor here at Matthews UMC. Although I was warned by several people on staff that I would regret the decision, I decided I needed a new way to maintain some level of fitness so I accepted. It did not take long to realize the mistake I made. I am 31 years old. Ken, the senior pastor, is 63. No contest, right? If nothing else, I could just wear him down over time. I have come to understand, however, that there is a racquetball gene which apparently does not kick in until some point later in life. The more people with whom I speak about the sport, the more I understand that racquetball is something in which you improve as you get older. Unlike many other sports where younger, bigger, faster, and stronger are typically beneficial, racquetball is a game of angles. If you can knit together good form, the correct angles, and patience, then you will be a formidable opponent no matter your age or athletic prowess. Brute strength (not that I possess any) is no match for strategy.
Needless to say, Ken (who is very athletic) wiped the court with my young, cocky body. At one point, as I was sprinting from corner to corner and diving against walls, I counted as Ken hit the ball six times without moving his feet. I was just serving it up for him and he was toying with me. I’m not sure how many games we played, but I know that I lost every single one. Although I was embarrassed by the beating, the workout was great. I was pouring sweat with a heavy chest throughout the match. Even better than the workout was the encouragement and coaching I received from Ken. He was never more excited than when I was actually able to muster up a decent shot. On the very rare occaion that I would score a point, because I was able to put together some decent form and find the right angle, Ken would cheer. Even though he was probably just excited at a glimpse of potential competition sometime in the future, I was greatly encouraged by his enthusiasm for my small victories.
As we step out into new ventures or try to resurrect old ones, we will eventually come to understand the proper form and best angles as long as we stick with it. I have another match scheduled for this afternoon. I plan on losing less. One thing that helps us stick with it is the cheering on of those with whom we are competing. I encourage you to reach out to someone starting something new and cheer them on through their little victories as well. It will mean more than you know.