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Quite the racquet

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Racquetball court newest addition to Vandalia's Family YMCA

By Andrew Harner

VANDALIA – After purchasing his spot in the first racquetball game at the Family YMCA of Fayette County, Jim Pryor made sure that he got his money’s worth.

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The YMCA board member defeated First National Bank President Ernie Chappel on Monday night in the inaugural game on the recently-completed racquetball court at the YMCA.

“It’s exciting,” said YMCA Executive Director John Ashdown. “We are basically finished with what we started and promised to the public when we started (our new facility).”

Racquetball was a staple at the old YMCA building, but the sport has been missing in town since the transition to the new building on Rock Island Avenue three years ago.

Now, the court is ready to be used by the public, and Ashdown expects that some of the people who had played in the old building will be back to play, and that some new faces will try out the game for the first time.

“A lot of people had asked if they could get into the old building just to play,” Ashdown said. “Since it got out there that we were doing (a new one), we’ve had quite a few calls and people talking about coming over.”

Situated behind the gymnasium, the new court has a viewing window, which allows spectators to see almost every inch of play.

Anyone wishing to reserve an hour time slot on the court should contact the YMCA in-person or at 283-1258 two days prior to when they want to play. Walk-ins will be permitted anytime a reservation has not been made.

No more than four players can be on the court at a time for racquetball, and no more than eight players can be on the court for wallyball. Full court rules are available online at http://fayetteymca.com/wp/?p=2990.

Equipment for both sports may be checked out at the front desk.

YMCA staff members will be offering three sessions of racquetball and wallyball instruction in July.

•Wednesday, July 3, 10 a.m.
•Saturday, July 6, 10 a.m.
•Tuesday, July 9, 6 p.m.

The court – which was constructed in just two weeks by a company from Memphis, Tenn. – was made possible by donations from many local businesses and individuals, and a matching $25,000 donation from First National Bank.

Those matching funds helped the YMCA set a final date of when it wanted to have all of the money raised.

“That was really great,” Ashdown said of the matching gift. “Whenever we went out to get donations, if someone gave us $1,000, it was really $2,000.

“When we were about $5,000 away, I went out and got it all wrapped up,” he said. “I had two or three businesses that called afterwards to make sure we made it, because they would have helped if we hadn’t.”

And while racquetball and wallyball will be the two primary uses, the court will be used for more than those sports.

Classes in the two sports will be offered by Kaskaskia College using the YMCA facility, and because it has a wood floor, the court can be used for indoor activities, such as Zumba and aerobics, if the other two multi-purpose rooms are in use.

The court is the third major project that has gone into the new facility since it opened, with the Dojo and the upstairs batting cages being the other improvements.

And while there are no large projects planned at this time, many other smaller improvements have recently been made at the YMCA.

Several new pieces of exercise equipment are available for use, including new elliptical machines, a step-mill and two stationary bicycles, which will be delivered in the next week or two.

Also added was a new hand-bike, which is wheelchair accessible, and features a digital display that shows rotations per minute and watts produced.

In the gymnasium, crash padding has been installed around the entire basketball court, and later in the summer, the parking lot will be seeing some maintenance work.