Randy Stafford, Racquetball’s Historian

randyinboothIf you’ve ever met Randy Stafford, you know of his love for racquetball and his joy in telling the colorful stories of racquetball. And, there are many, many stories.

Known throughout the racquetball community as “The Historian,” Randy is curator of the Racquetball Museum. The museum is an extensive collection of all things racquetball, from balls and racquets to clothing, onto print media – books and photographs and the colorful and informative magazines which were extremely popular in the day. Art Shay’s incredible black and white racquetball photographs from the early days of racquetball are one of the highlights of the museum. The Racquetball Museum was brought online a few years ago so that it would accessible to all.

As a Memphis native and talented young player on the Pro Tour, Randy found his true life-long passion for racquetball. So much so, he felt like if he did not try to preserve the history of the sport it may never be done. “Racquetball has such a great and colorful history, I feel it is imperative to preserve as much as we can for all for generations of players to enjoy." Randy says.

Most of the items in the museum are from Randy’s personal collection of which he says, “You know, I never really collected anything, it’s more like I just never threw anything away.”

He has preserved an incredible amount of racquetball’s history, and is always looking for more. If you have an unusual item to share, he’d love for you to send him a photo and the story. You can find him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/theracquetballmuseum or visit the Racquetball Museum at: www.usracquetballfoundation.org.

Randy found his passion for racquetball as a teenager and has participated and contributed to the sport ever since. So much so that his contributions to the sport earned him induction into the Racquetball Hall of Fame. For instance, early in his career he wrote the book: “Racquetball: The Sport for Everyone” and even today, Randy holds the responsibility of approver of all new racquetball balls.

Randy started playing competitively in college and then moved onto the Pro Tour. After four years on the Pro Tour, he founded the Court Company with Mike Mattingly in 1976, a company that designs and builds racquetball and squash courts worldwide. Together, Randy and Mike ran the Court Company until Randy retired earlier this year after 42 years.

Randy views his other greatest contribution to the sport as the four years he spent as President of USA Racquetball from 2004-2008. During his presidency he brought stability to the organization, bringing the organization out of perilous debt into relative financial security.During his tenure at the Court Company, the company built and donated the first portable racquetball court to USA Racquetball. It was this court that made the first US Racquetball Open Championships possible twenty years ago. Randy sees this as one of his most important contributions to the sport.

In 2010 Randy Stafford joined Shannon Wright in reorganizing the United States Racquetball Foundation (USRF), www.usracquetballfoundation.org. The Foundation’s mission is to ensure the future of racquetball. With his participation at USRF, he hopes to see an endowment fund built that will be used to promote the sport, capital projects, and marketing to get people back on the courts.

“I believe the contraction of our sport has turned around and that there are now many opportunities to rebuild our sport of racquetball. Now is the time to build new programs designed to bring in more juniors and new players. Everyone involved in racquetball needs to bring in a few friends to the court and introduce them to the game. Starting one by one we can rebuild our numbers on the courts,” Randy says.

Randy Stafford:

1968 – Started playing

1972 – Won National Collegiate Doubles

1973 – Won National Collegiate Singles

1973 -1977 Pro Tour, where he won numerous state and regional invitational tournaments

1975 – At age 21, authored the second book written about racquetball: “Racquetball: The Sport for Everyone”

1976 – Founded the Court Company

1996 – Built and donated the portable court that made the US Open in Memphis possible

2004 – 2008 President of USA Racquetball

2010 – Joined the Board of Directors of the United States Racquetball Foundation

2013 – Inducted into the Racquetball Hall of Fame

 

This article published in the 2015 Winter issue of "Racquetball Magazine"