Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hall of Fame ~ Professional Female Racquetball Players

The Racquetball Hall of Fame was created in 1973 by the USA Racquetball, the following are the professional elite female athletes of racquetball that have been inducted over the years.


Peggy Steding | Odessa, Texas (deceased: 4-17-36 to 11-17-91)
(Professional Athlete, Inducted 1988)

Peggy started playing racquetball in 1971. She had always been athletic and was attending Odessa College on a tennis scholarship. She had also competed in basketball, volleyball and fast-pitch softball, before discovering racquetball. Peggy dominated women's play in the early 70's and continued playing in the senior divisions prior to her death in 1991. In 1992 the USRA Female Age Division Athlete of the Year award was renamed the Peggy Steding Award in her honor. It is said that Peggy elevated the game of racquetball for women during her reign as champion.


baxter.jpgCindy Baxter Reedsville, Pennsylvania
(Amateur Athlete, Inducted 1991)

Cindy was instrumental in building a reputation for the U.S. National Racquetball Team in the eighties by distinguishing herself as a major competitor on the international racquetball scene. Early in her career, Cindy became the first U.S. athlete to win three consecutive gold medals in the World Games, first in 1981, again in 1984, and again in 1986. Her achievements in the sport have been documented by the Guinness Book of Records, and have yet to be matched.


Jo Kenyon | Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
(Amateur Athlete, Inducted 1994)

Jo Kenyon was the 15th inductee to the USRA Hall of Fame, on the basis of her long-history of age group competition. A retired veterinary receptionist, Kenyon took up racquetball at the age of 50 and quickly laid claim to over 25 national title over the ten year period preceding her induction. Her love of the game, and the tournament environment, helped her become one of the top female age group competitors -- even after undergoing a hip replacement in May of 1998. Only three months after that procedure, Kenyon was back in top form, winning a silver medal in doubles, followed by a renewed
string of gold medal finishes in subsequent seasons.


Mary Low Acuff | Asheville, North Carolina (deceased: 7-9-19 to 2-4-05)
(Amateur Athlete, Inducted 1996)

Hall of Fame athlete Mary Low Acuff dominated the "upper echelons" of age group competition among women beginning in 1984, with career wins that include forty-five national titles, nine silver medals and a scant two bronze medal finishes. In 1994 alone, Mary Low took five national titles and a world championships victory, then followed up in 1995 with a record of nine national wins and another world title to her credit. The mother of eight was a long time supporter of the USRA and is a legend in racquetball, who continued to compete in every tournament available to her. In 1999, Mary Low was joined by her husband Earl in the Hall of Fame -- the two are the only husband-and-wife pair to share this honor.


Lynn Adams | Libertyville, Illinois
(Professional Athlete, Inducted 1997)

Lynn Adams won 325 of her 369 professional matches, for a .887 winning percentage. An eight-time player of the year (1982-88, 90), Adams won six pro tour season titles (1982-83, 85-88) and seven overall championships (1982-83, 85-88, 90). Even more impressive is Adams’ courageous fight against multiple sclerosis throughout her life and racquetball career.

Heather McKay | Brisbane, Australia
(Professional Athlete, Inducted 1997)

Heather McKay (Brisbane, Australia) had lost only two matches in two decades of international squash dominance before turning to the sport of racquetball in 1980, at the age of 39. McKay didn’t waste much time earning the title of best women’s racquetball player in the world, winning the pro national’s in 1980 and ‘81. She again won the coveted title in ‘84. Before returning to Australia in ‘85, the Canadian national amassed nine national titles and the ‘84 Steding Cup, given yearly by the women’s pro tour for outstanding contributions to women’s racquetball.


Caryn McKinney | Atlanta, Georgia
(Professional Athlete, Inducted 2001)

Well known for her court-sense, Caryn McKinney dominated the Women’s Pro Racquetball Association [WPRA] Tour throughout the 80’s and into the 90’s, where she consistently placed in the top five. During her professional career she reached the semifinals in nearly 50 pro events, winning eight. Her career peaked in 1989 when she captured the WPRA National Championship, the top spot in the rankings and was named the tour’s Player of the Year. As late as the 1998 U.S. OPEN, McKinney remained competitive on the women’s pro tour, reaching the semi-final there against an tough field of up-and-coming current tour regulars. Well respected as an instructor and coach, she taught at the Elite Olympic Training Camp for eleven years, longer than any other instructor.


Fran Davis | San Francisco, California
(Contributor, Inducted 2004)Fran Davis is known throughout racquetball as one of the top clinicians in the game.                           
She has also been successful as a coach for the U.S. National Team. She served as Assistant Coach for the 1990, ’92, ’94, ’96, ’98, and 2002 IRF World Champions and in 1987 she was named the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Racquetball Coach of the Year. She was also part of the 1995 U.S. Pan American Games coaching staff, helping them to sweep the competition in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

Shannon Wright Fridley, Minnesota
(Professional Athlete, Inducted 2004)Shannon Wright dominated women’s racquetball throughout the late 1970’s and early 80’s. During her 12-year career she racked up over 35 professional tournament victories, captured seven National Championships, and finished #1 on the Women’s Professional Racquetball Association (WPRA) Tour four times.  She is said, by some, to have revolutionized women’s racquetball with her hard-hitting style and aggressive play.


Connie Martin | Gresham, Oregon
(Contributor, Inducted 2006)Connie Martin has been involved in the teaching and programming of racquetball since 1975.  Currently Connie is the Program Director for Cascade Athletic Clubs in Gresham, Oregon, the commisioner of the Oregon Racquetball Association and coaches the Gresham High School Racquetball Team and the Mt. Hood Community College Team.  She was the founder and executive director of PARI (Professional Association of Racquetball Instructors), now known as AMPRO.  She has published numerous books on racquetball programming including the original PARI teaching manual and the YMCA training program for Junior Racquetball.  Connie Martin and her club were the recipients of the first International Racquet and Sport Club Association (IHRSA) award for outstanding service.  Additionally Connie played the Women's Pro Tour and was a member of the US Racquetball Team in 1987 winning 2 golds and 1 silver at the World Championships.

Susan Pfahler (left) & Mary Lyons (right) | Neptune Beach, Florida
(Amateur Team, Inducted 2006)In both Open and Age Division competition, the championship record of doubles team Susan (Morgan) Pfahler and Mary Lyons is unmatched in racquetball history.  No other pairing, male or female, can claim 17 doubles titles.  Their run began in 1984 with Women's 25+ titles and a bronze medal in Women's Open.  Over the next two decades, they accumulated a total of 17 gold medals, including a double gold in 1992 (Women's Open and Women's 35+) followed by five consecutive wins in the Women's 35+ division from 1993 to 1997.  From 1997 to 2005, they captured their Age Division title each year.  Both players have earned the respect and admiration of their peers through long and outstanding performance, good sportsmanship, teamwork and fair play.


Jackie Paraiso
Jacqueline Paraiso | San Diego, California
(Amateur Athlete, Inducted 2009)Jacqueline's esteemed record on the Pro Circuit closely mimicked her prowess as a DOUBLES LEGEND.  Her acclaimed Titles include 3 Overall Pro Tour Championships, 2 US Open Titles, 18 First Place finishes, and 23 Final appearances.  Even more impressive were her accomplishments in Doubles that boast a treasure chest of Gold Medals that includes 16 National Doubles Titles, 5 Olympic Festival Gold, and 3 Pan American Games Gold - over 75 Gold Medals in all!  The highlights of Jacqueline's International career are the Gold Medals she won with here twin sister, Joy MacKenzie, at the 1995 and 1999 Pan American Games.

Jacqueline has qualified more times for a position on the US Team than anyone in the history of the sport and has made more appearances for Team USA than any other racquetball player, man or woman.  In 24 appearances over 20 years she won 1 Silver and 23 Gold Medals!  Paraiso and MacKenzie played together 7 times for Team USA, winning Gold each time.

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