Imagine if the Oregon State football team won a national championship.
Ditto for the men’s and women’s basketball teams.
The baseball team won back-to-back national crowns in 2006 and 2007, and the achievements of those squads continue to be recognized.
But another OSU athletic team that merits celebration has gone under the radar.
The OSU racquetball team extended a remarkable streak by winning a 10th consecutive USA Racquetball Intercollegiate Championship on April 1 at Los Caballeros Athletic Club in Fountain Valley, California.
“It’s kind of secretly behind the scenes,” said Maddie Kerzel, a freshman and Sprague High School graduate. “No one really knows that our school has a legacy with national titles going on with their racquetball team.”
That’s primarily because racquetball is a club sport and does not offer athletic scholarships. But the 13-member squad puts in as many hours working on their skills as the student-athletes in OSU’s 18 NCAA sanctioned sports that constitute an athletic budget of $84 million.
The OSU racquetball team is self-financed and raises money to compete. They are motivated by passion for a game that requires hand-eye coordination, quick reflexes and a thorough understanding of angles that the most accomplished shot-makers have perfected into an art form.
“A lot of people don’t realize how much of a mental game it is,” said Alec DeHart, a junior from Sprague.
Much of the Beavers’ success stems from a strong junior program in Oregon. Five players from Sprague, a perennial national high school power, are on the Beavers’ 2017 roster.
“It helps so much,” Kerzel said of the Sprague connection. “Going into college is hard, but you already have a community and you’re already comfortable with those people. Even some of the people who didn’t come directly from Sprague,…