Rick Schacht: Winner of the Biggest Contest

 

Rick Schacht celebrates a special Birthday on October 3. He has very good reason to celebrate for as he was competing at the US Open on October 3, 2013, he died on the court. Luckily he was fortunate enough to rejoin the living.

In 2013, Rick thought he had it all. Life was good. A wonderful family and good friends, and he loved racquetball – all of it from being on the court, to the lights, noise, competition, winning, and watching guys blow up.

A life-time racquetball player, in 2013, Rick was inducted into the Minnesota Racquetball Hall of Fame in January, played several tournaments including the NMRA International Championship in July where he picked up two silver medals. Preparation for the US Open in October was coming along nicely over the summer and he thought he was ready to go. He was in good condition and ready to give the big tournament his all.

 “I thought I was training for a racquetball competition, but little did I know I was training to survive a widow-maker heart attack.” Rick says.

That day, “I was berating myself because I just couldn’t seem to focus,” he recalls. “I remember being in the service box and feeling lightheaded. I said to myself, ‘Good grief, you let yourself get out of shape, and now you’re going to faint.”

Soon after that thought, he went into cardiac arrest. He was lucky on several counts – his fitness level because of playing competitive racquetball regularly, going into cardiac arrest in the company of others who acted quickly with CPR and used an AED that was onsite. It wasn’t easy to bring him back. It took 10 full minutes of CPR and being shocked three times with the AED. At 10 minutes, the final attempt using the AED restarted his heart. He was taken to HCMC hospital, the nearest trauma center and had a stent implanted within 39 minutes. He recovered quickly, returning home within 72 hours.

Very few people who have no heartbeat for 10 minutes survive, let alone recover without brain damage or other complications. Rick is one of the lucky ones and he credits racquetball for the fitness advantage it gave him in overcoming his medical crisis.

Since that life-changing day at the US Open, Rick speaks to groups about his experience. He talks about how quickly things can happen, how long 10 minutes can feel to those trying to save a life and, how grateful he is for his racquetball friends, EMTs and doctors who helped him win the biggest contest – the kind of heart attack that so few survive – so he can be still here to enjoy his friends and be with his family.

“Never give up. Get out there celebrating your life because you never know how long you have. Me, I’ll be spending my time with my family, friends and of course playing racquetball.” Rick says.

 

Published 2016 Summer Issue of Racquetball Magazine