Justin Cobkit screams out "Vamos" after winning the Men’s A double tournament with his partner Russell Scott. These particular emotions come out of Cobkit who said he had never picked up a racket until his freshman year of college.
But unlike in most sports, the outflow of emotion from Cobkit is OK with Scott, the racquetball club president, because it is part of what makes the club team at the University of Georgia distinctive.
The Georgia racquetball club takes pride in making itself available to everyone. The members of the club range from professors, faculty and students. Players from any skill level can join the club.
“We have people who do not know how to play," Scott said. "We bring them in, and we teach them the rules, techniques and swing mechanics.”
The inclusiveness has brought together people that would have never met each other if it was not for racquetball. The club also gives the younger members a chance to learn lessons on how to play the game from the older members.
A player who has benefited from this system is Cobkit, a fifth-year civil engineering major. He has been playing competitively for two years with the racquetball club. Even though the racquetball club is inclusive, the competitiveness is not lost for Cobkit.
An early racquetball goal for Cokbit was beating a much older teammate who taught him how to play the sport in what was a very competitive setting for the younger player in Cobkit.
“I was practicing a lot," Cobkit said. "I invested in a bag, racket and gloves. It felt like I was working towards that moment, and [beating him] was one of my first goals. It was very rewarding, it was a big deal for me.”
John Ahee is one of the older members of the club. He was born in the Caribbean. He used to play a sport called handball, but chose racquetball instead because it was easier to play.
He loves the club because the members are close.
“We go out to different restaurants,” Ahee said. “I used to have get-togethers at my house. I invited everybody from the [racquetball club], and we had a barbecue.”
One of the main goals for the racquetball club is to get more people playing the sport. Ahee wants more people playing, but he also wants to see improvement in the players.
“Showing them the right techniques and how to play the game smart,” Ahee said. “[The game] is not about hitting the ball hard. There is a lot of strategy involved, and if you do not have the strategy then you can not make it.”
The lack of depth on the team, is one reason the club is looking for new members. The racquetball team takes the top six members to tournaments. The team is also looking for members who are committed to getting better.
“We have a small community,” Cobkit said. “It does not take a lot of people to grow the sport, but it does take a few committed people.”
One of the biggest goals for this club is to make it more popular, and they want the sport to grow.
“We want to grow the sport of racquetball,” Cobkit said. “We want to grow the sport beyond just at UGA. We want it to grow throughout the United States.”