High Heat 2017…..Overheated

I waited. I waited to write something about this tournament because I’ve learned over the years to step back and let things settle down. I have found that I get a better perspective of the big picture this way. I, like so many, say things in anger and frustration that I wish I hadn’t said, or wish I could take back. I’m older now, and I try not to make those mistakes anymore. I still do, but hopefully not as often. So…I waited.

I read all the comments, mostly negative on Facebook. I felt the anger of some, and the disappointment of others. I felt the frustration of those who put so much time and effort recently in trying to prevent this exact scenario from occurring. I felt sad when those who were documenting the tournament by going “Live” on Facebook turned off their cameras because the controversial play seemed like it took forever and wasn’t going to be resolved. The lowest point for me was when one of our biggest supporters in everything that we do as a community had to actually delete the video of the game because of the tremendous negativity, vulgarity, and profanity of the comments that came with the post. Not all were like this, but too many. I read all the speculation on why the tournament was not completed, and why the winnings were split. I read the opinions of people who were not there, but gave their opinion as if they were. I read and appreciate all the posts that offered solutions instead of finding fault. I read and also appreciate those who believe that this game could never be more than an inner city game because of these incidents, and it is broken beyond repair. I know these same people love the game , and have more passion for it than most of us. For all of you, I offer a different view.

How about all of the people, men and women, who came to support the players and the game. I overheard a player saying, “Hopefully with everybody here I’ll be able to get a couple of games in on the side.” That’s music to my ears. How about the people so dedicated to videoing not just the games, but the event. Documenting the people and their families, and the jokes and jabs, and the silliness of friends who know each other forever. Supporters who willingly drive in the worst traffic this country has to offer, and actually pay tolls to sit in that very same traffic. Oh yes, and the people who voluntarily take mass transit on the weekend, which basically means that the train or bus has no schedule, but comes when it’s in the mood. How about the people who just come to hang out with their friends. Maybe I’m just a Floridian, but I thought it was fantastic.

Lets talk about some of the matches.

Robert Sostre & Will Rolon vs. Frank Savino & Eric Faro–  What a match! Incredible volleys and gets. One team has control then the other gets hot, and seems to have victory in their grasp to force a tiebreaker only to fall inches short. Incredibly exciting high quality match that offered everything paddleball is supposed to have.

Brian Romero and Ben Goldenberg vs. Carlito and Joe– Can the ball be hit any harder and go any faster??!!! Anyone who has ever said that Big Ball was slow certainly did not witness this game. A showcase game for the future of Big Blue. Power, speed, athleticism, and shot making. Nobody watching this game had anything but positive thoughts about this tournament.

Bobby Fiorentino and Bay Lui vs. Willie “Wheels” Chavez and Steve “The Greek”- Knock down drag out battle between three players who have played with, and against each other hundreds of times, and a player who gets to every ball and is capable of any shot from any angle on the court. Anyone who has not seen Willie play is missing out on an incredible paddleball treat! Bobby and Bay were fortunate enough to win in two, but it most likely felt like four.

Robert Sostre & Will Rolon vs. Bobby Fiorentino & Bay Lui- I’m not even sure if people realized that Bobby and Bay won the first game 21-6! It looked like there was no way that they could come back from such a decisive beating, but in true Sostre fashion he willed (no pun intended)his team to a third game tie breaker. After trailing for most of the game Rob and Will somehow figured out a way to pull out an amazing victory over two legends. Incredibly high quality paddleball.

The tournament did not end the way it should have. These great games ended up to be forgotten or overlooked. Don’t do that!! I ask you to remember these games and the excitement they generated. I ask you to remember who you were sitting next to, and what you were talking about while these games were going on. I ask you to remember the excitement you had about getting in some games with great players on the side. These matches, those thoughts , and those games are the possibility of every event. This is what will bring new players to our game.

Lastly, as everyone knows, I was a participant in that game. I speak on behalf of only myself, I would like to extend my apologies to all the referees. I know all of you many years and consider you my friends, and I hope that everyone can move forward and continue trying to make our sport better. I believe it’s worth it.

Mike D











I am extremely excited about this event and I’m sure the players are also. I look forward to seeing all the competitors battle for the top spot.

See you there!!

Why there isn’t prize money in all divisions at Beach Bash, and other ramblings…

My point of view…
Why Beach Bash doesn’t have prize money in lower divisions and other insights:

I am often asked why I don’t offer prize money to the lower divisions at the Beach Bash. The reasoning is connected to why I run the event in the first place!

How do I measure success? It’s simple: A great Beach Bash means the maximum number of people have an incredible weekend.

And to be clear, I appreciate that there are events of all flavors, just like players’ preferences! I enjoy playing in events that have different goals than Beach Bash, and appreciate the efforts of anyone who puts in the time and effort to give others a good time. What seems nuts to some people, is the best format for others. We are all different, and it’s a good thing that events are different as well. Something for everyone!

So these ramblings are about Beach Bash, and my own goals and thought process. I am certainly not telling others what to do.

Prize money in lower divisions? No, not at Beach Bash. I don’t think that fits into my goal of maximum people having an outstanding weekend. There are much better ways to show appreciation to the amateur players, rather than the just the couple of winners who might take home few bucks.

The overall experience of every single player matters to me, even the ones who lose every match they play. Most of the lower level players would prefer a nice trophy/plaque/Medal over a nominal cash award that is spent and forgotten about in a week.

Ten years from now, 60+ winners in 34 divisions get to show their kids or grandkids that they were Beach Bash Champions. It doesn’t matter if its Mixed Century, or Mens B singles. Especially in the lower divisions where folks don’t take winning for granted,  those players appreciate having memories that last. I know not everyone agrees and that’s OK. This is just how I am thinking.

Rather than offer prize money to amateur divisions, I would use that money to enhance the overall experience of all participants. Some examples:

· Keep entry fees low
· Provide strong hospitality and refreshments at event for all players and fans.
· Rocking annual player party!
· Nicer awards
· Donate profits to charity
· Donate profits to Team Florida juniors so they can travel
· No entry fee for juniors, even when playing adult divisions.
· Help players in need. “Cant afford the entry” is not a reason to miss Beach Bash, and never has been.
· More….

The above is just a sampling. But the point is, I’d rather invest in every single player’s experience, rather than focus on prize money in lower divisions that just the winners would enjoy.

There’s a contingent of players who don’t care if Pros play at all. There’s a contingent of players who think only the pros matter. I am in neither of those camps.

Many players in the racquetball hotbeds take for granted that they have opportunity to watch pro-level play every weekend at their park. But for most of us, watching top Pros from 1wall, indoor and 3wall compete is a very special treat! So, I always do my best to make prize money as high as possible in Pro events. Top pros battling it out adds tremendously to the experience of every player!  I have to find the balance, and obviously that’s the challenge.

That said, the overall experience of all 240 players is my priority. Grow the game. Maximum people enjoying the weekend is what I am trying to do. As participation grows, sponsors take note, and everyone wins.

This year, I am again thrilled to see so many players in the amateur divisions! Recreational players have events they can compete in, against their peers from around the country. We have approximately 60 players in the Pro divisions, and 180 amateurs. That feels good.

At least 55 women are playing in 2017 Beach Bash. Roughly 20 youngsters college age and younger are playing 2017 Beach Bash. The Mens combined 120 has a full pool.  Mixed Century also has a large draw.  Mens A doubles is bigger than the Pro doubles draw. Womens B doubles is larger than Womens Pro doubles..etc… These are the stats I look at when I measure if my effort is successful.

While I am rambling, let’s talk about officiating. Beach Bash is a where 3 worlds meet in the middle, with each group struggling with some rules they simply aren’t used to.

But that’s part of the charm of Beach Bash! Indoor players, 3 wall players and Big Apple 1wallers all have to leave their comfort zone.  This is always going to be challenging, and there will be some bad calls as players and referees adjust to what’s different than they are used to.  Just relax,have fun, and do the best you can!

On the planet earth, how many people are qualified to be a Beach Bash referee? It’s silly to say I should pay refs to solve the problem. We’d still have the same issues, especially in the pro divisions. There is no ref I can fly in to save the day.

Making matters worse, the toughest folks to ref are usually the ones who won’t step up. They want 3 additional people for line judges every single match, yet not once during the weekend do they volunteer their services. And when I ask I hear: “I am too tired” “I have been drinking” “I want to go eat” “I don’t want to ref that guy because he argues so much” “I am a lazy ass who feels everyone should serve me” etc… Stop it already. Be easy for anyone to ref your match. Expect a few bad calls every match. Count on it!! Let it go.

This isn’t unique to Beach Bash. I have seen outlandish arguing over rules and reffing in all corners of the country, in all the wallball sports. It’s just insane. There aren’t enough high quality refs on the planet, and most of the qualified refs are also the top players.

Back on point…
Bottom line – I hope 240 people and their families have an outstanding and memorable Beach Bash weekend. That’s the plan.

That’s just a sliver of what’s in my head!

Vic Leibofsky