Hall of Fame - Stephanie Bird 2011 Inductee
It's a great honor to be named to the Oklahoma Racquetball Hall of Fame, as I am not a native Okie, but a tried and true Yankee from back East.
I was raised in a very small town called Pepperell, Massachusetts and my first introduction to sports was in the form of baseball and soccer, which I started at 4 years of age. My athletic endeavors also included many years of basketball, field hockey (it's a Yankee sport), and my first true sporting love - tennis. I arrived at the University of Tulsa in 1994 to pursue degrees in Music and Business Management.
I was first introduced to racquetball by Paula Lemon in 1995, and have been stuck on the game ever since. Though I played several times a week from the beginning, it took me about a year to lose my 2-handed backhand, and then another before I could hit the ball off the back wall. In the fall of 1995 I started travelling to local OK and AR racquetball tournaments with Paula Lemon and regularly getting my backside kicked by Paula, Therese Lewis, and Julie Hill. (And still do, truth be told!) During this time, I also played on the University of Tulsa Racquetball team from 1996-1998, which I graduated. I had a forced hiatus in 1998 and early 1999 due to a torn rotator cuff suffered after catching a "crab" during rowing practice. (I was on the University's Rowing team from 1996-1998.)
I had the occasion to travel to many U.S. Opens and several U.S. Nationals, where I earned 3 Silver medals - 2003 U.S. Open 25+ A singles, 2003 U.S. Nationals 25+ A singles, and 2005 U.S. Open 25+ singles. (Back when I was in considerably better shape!)
I have been a member of the ORA Board since 2003 and have found my niche running tournaments. I love being able to get everyone in and puzzling out the time constraints to ensure that everyone gets an opportunity to play. I hope to continue in that capacity for years to come; even after my body eventually fails me and the knees get replaced!
Until then I'll either see you on the racquetball court or the golf course (my summer home away from home)!