Final Update…Pan American Championship Games

Guadalajara, MX October 17-25, 2011

5 Medals for my Championship Team…4 Gold Medals, 1 Silver Medal and 1 HAPPY Coach

The ten day event is finally over and my students walked away from the Pan Am Games with 5 medals between them:

Paola Longoria took home 3 Gold Medals….1 Gold Individual Singles and 1 Gold Individual Doubles Competition and 1 Gold Team Competition.

Rocky Carson took home 1 Gold and 1 Silver Medal… 1 Gold Individual Singles and 1 Silver Team Competition

Paola was the talk of the games as in November 2010 she won the Woman Athlete of the Year Award for all of Mexico, one of the highest honors an athlete could receive. The cameras and media were focused on her as they expected her to bring home the GOLD for their country….and she delivered big time. The pressure was incredible for both her and I, but through it all Paola beat Rhonda Rajsich 3X in the same event even coming back from being down 8-9 in one of the tie-breakers to win 11-9…a sweet victory in the Singles Individual Competition. As a matter of fact all the games with Rhonda went a tie-breaker so both these women gave the crowd their monies worth. The sellout crowds all week long were chanting, clapping, screaming and cheering for their hometown favorite.

Rocky had to beat 2 Mexicans on the way to the Gold…hometown favorites Alvaro and Gilberto. You couldn’t even hear yourself think as the crowds went crazy for their Mexican heroes, but staying mentally tough Rocky was able to ward off both in 2 games straight to win the Gold in the Individual Singles Competition. In the Team Competition Rocky started off and led the way against Mexican Gilberto and won giving the USA Team a 1-0 lead, but unfortunately Chris lost to Alvaro in the 2nd singles match and Chris and Shane lost to Alvaro and Javier in an exciting tie-breaker in the doubles match to a standing room only crowd. As a result Rocky, Chris, Shane and Alex captured the Silver in the Team Competition, still a wonderful accomplishment.

For me the Pan Am games was a once in a lifetime experience, especially being in Paola’s home country of Mexico. Sitting courtside and coaching her knowing Vic, the Dr., Magaly, the Sports Psychologist, Silvia, from the Mexican Government, and Paola’s family and boyfriend were all there to support her made my job easier. After each match she and sometimes I were whisked away for interviews, pictures and autographs. This is truly the way racquetball athletes should be treated all the time.

Watching both Paola and Rocky play over the course of the 10 days and seeing how all their hard work physically, mentally and emotionally paid off made me VERY PROUD of them. Knowing I have been a part of their growth and development as players is all a coach could ask for and dream about.

Thanks Paola and Rocky for a GREAT week and memories to last forever.