November 4th, 2010 by Ben
Make sure to read Vol. 3 Part I prior to reading this post.
Here is one example of a match from that week: Kristen Frisk was a senior at ASU; she had played for me for three years. Just to round out our history together, she got “volunteered” about one month before we went to the 2008 Intercollegiate Championships in Kansas City. She was friends with one of the guys on the team and had never played racquetball before. My number six girl had a knee injury 7 weeks before the event that year, and we were going to be one girl short if we didn’t find a replacement. You are not eligible for the team competition if you do not have a full squad of 6 guys and 6 girls. She lost every match, with no experience and no help during the event (I figured she was going to lose anyway). By the end of the week she was serving to win her first game. Oh, by the way, I made her play number 1, knowing this would be better for the team as a whole in terms of points.
Two years later to the day she is in the semi finals at the number 5 position. Both of her knees hurt, her swing is still terrible (I never was able to fix that) and when she warms up she looks like she’s never played before. I would hear her opponent’s excitement when they watched her for the first time, thinking she was terrible and that they would win easily. But once things got started, she was tough as nails. She slowly squeezed people to death, rarely making an error and her hustle making up for her technical inefficiencies. She executed every game plan I ever gave her and never, ever complained. Down 11-13 in the first game of the semi’s, I made her call time out to talk to her. She complied and came off the court. I told her to switch her serve, and hit a lob Z to the forehand of her opponent. She looked at me like I was crazy. I told her to trust me, and so she did. As I hoped, her opponent attacked the first serve she hit and dumped it into the floor. The next one she went conservative and hit it to the ceiling, only to sail it off the back wall and give Kristen an easy shot up front. She dinked it for a winner, tying the game at 13-13.
Her opponent called time out and came off the court looking rattled. Kristen came bounding out of the court looking very confident. As they walked back in to court, I said aloud “Do the same thing” and shut the door behind her. Kristen’s opponent looked back at me with a scared look in her eyes, knowing she was going to see more of the same. Kristen served out, hitting a clutch forehand winner to seal game one. Game two was very similar, with Kristen hanging around and frustrating her opponent by getting to good shots and extending rallies. Thirteen all…here we go again. She calls time out and walks off the court. I looked at her and said “You know what to do” and she smiled back at me. I was so nervous for her, but I never let it show. She went back in and battled her way to another 15-13 win, making the finals and having a shot at gold.
The next day Kristen played in the finals and lost. She gave everything she had. The picture says it all.
I was so proud of her, and I get chills just thinking back to this one of the many moments for that week. She graduated and is now back on the East Coast and working in her career of choice. I have no doubt if she applies half of the determination she did on the court to the rest of her life, she will be very successful.
I am so proud of all my “kids”; we work together for six months to play this four day event. All of them represent the school and themselves with class and sportsmanship that would make any coach proud. The lack of money is irrelevant; I love my job and wouldn’t trade it for anything.
ASU Head Coach