Racquetball team places first in two divisions at national tournament

“Every single player that we have has gradually come along and gotten a little bit better and, hopefully, they’ll continue to improve,” said the Racquetball club’s Head Coach Andy Hawthorne.


Andy Hawthorne

March 18, 2023, Angie Case, sophomore art education major (left), and Julia Stein, junior biology and public health double major (right), winners of the D1 Women’s Doubles at Nationals.

The BW Racquetball Club had a successful season with an overall first-place finish in Division II and a first-place finish in Division I women’s doubles at the USA Racquetball National Intercollegiate Championships in Columbus from March 15-18.  

Julia Stein, a junior biology and public health double major, and Angie Case, a sophomore art education major, were the two BW racquetball players on the winning women’s doubles team.   

Case and Stein both competed in women’s singles as well. Stein finished first in the Blue Division of Women’s No. 1 while Case finished third in the Gold Division of Women’s No. 2, Hawthorne said. 

“I was confident that Angie and I were going to do well because I think we did pretty well at the [Mideast Racquetball Conference] tournaments, and we were playing boys the entire time, and we were matching up pretty well against them. So, I was like, ‘You know what? We got this!’” Stein said.  

“I was nervous at first, but I was gaining confidence as I went in because I think I was underestimating my skill level,” Case said.   

For head coach Andy Hawthorne, the team’s overall success this season was “unexpected.” 

“There’s some years you expect our team to kind of trounce everybody, and there’s certain years that are definitely rebuilding years,” Hawthorne said. “And we’re kind of at that rebuilding phase with the exception of Julia, and to see some of the kids succeed was tremendous.”  

Hawthorne said the team’s best female players compete in the men’s division during the season due to their advanced skill level.  

Hawthorne said that Case and some of the other players are planning to keep training during the off-season and that the hard work the players have put in is what has made the team successful.   

“The fact that they are willing to come out here and practice without me … to get them here, three, four days a week plus tournaments is fantastic,” Hawthorne said.   

Stein also attributed the team’s success to the players’ attitudes and enthusiasm.   

“Racquetball is just such a different vibe than any other sport because it’s as serious as you make it,” Stein said. “So, these kids were having fun, they didn’t make it into a job because it doesn’t have to be a job or anything. You’re just having fun, and that’s why we’re successful because they want to be there.” 

Stein said her favorite memories from the season were getting to know her teammates better during the trip to nationals and that she would like to see more team bonding implemented in the future.   

“There’s just fun little things that you can do with a team that you get to experience at nationals that’s completely not racquetball related. It’s just team building and team bonding, and I think that was definitely my favorite part of the season,” Stein said.   

Stein said that a challenge the team has faced is the intimidation that the beginners on the team sometimes feel.   

“I think it’s a good challenge because it’s kind of fun watching them experience all the firsts within a couple months,” Stein said.   

Hawthorne also said that intimidation is a challenge when recruiting players.   

“We’re still having issues with getting people involved with the sport. I think that some people hear about us and think that you have to be a superstar to be on the team, but then you look at our team and … Angie has the second most experience on our team, and she’s only been playing for 18 months,” Hawthorne said.  

Hawthorne said that Case’s performance at Nationals is one of the team’s biggest accomplishments.   

Case said she is happy with her improvement and that the team’s commitment played a large role in their success.   

“I’m pretty proud of our team. I think we did a great job, and our results were amazing,” Case said.   

Reflecting on the season, Stein is grateful for Hawthorne’s dedication to the team.   

“He’s the best coach, and he’s just such a great mentor. He doesn’t yell at you or get mad at you ever. Everything he says is from a place of wanting you to get better,” Stein said.