READY AND ABLE!
John Foust Outside the Wheels.
''I had a foot in two racquetball worlds, so to speak. One was able-bodied
that you're used to playing, and the other in a wheelchair. In the early
80's, the wheelchair game was coming on and though I was legally handicapped
from polio in youth, I never dreamed of myself as that. I managed the
Denver Sporting Club (known in the early years as the Denver Sporting House)
and was a consistent able-bodied winner in A division, and once won the 25+
Open regionals. Luke St. Onge, the USRA executive director, asked me to
play in the wheelchair division alongside my normal event, and I replied, 'I
spent time in a wheel chair when young, and may again when I'm old, but I
don't want to in-between.' However, Luke persevered.'"
"It was bizarre going from the regular events where I was perceived as the
';good guy' with the game leg who beat most the field, to the wheelchair
division where I was truly the 'villain'' because after the match I could
rise and walk with a limp from the chair. Before each match, I grimaced at
having to approach another player to beg his chair. I was third and fourth
ranked in the world from about '85-87 by virtue of my able-bodied racquet
skills, but always lost in the finals to one of the top two wheelchair
champs (Chip Parmelly or Jim Leatherman) because of their familiarity with
the chair. Understand that the chair is equipment, just like the glove,
racquet and shoe."
I first met John Foust at the Denver Sporting Club, home to many pro and
amateur national tournaments, as I cruised the courts observing the Open
division matches. One player on a somewhat withered leg used a devastating
strategy, shooting everything from all over the court to shorten the rally.
After he won, I yoked him back into the court for tips on spin in keeping
the ball along the sidewall so he wouldn't have to run and dive so much, and
that sealed a relationship. ''I learned racquetball from Myron Roderick and
Steve Strandemo, but sort of put Steve Keeley on a pedestal. He was a roll
model, offered help when it wasn't asked, and at the tournament hotels
collected all the brochures of local interest places, and then visited them
"My able-bodied style is to shoot the ball from everywhere, because the
longer the rally the less chance I have to get to the opponent's shot
because of my game leg. I practiced hundreds of hours shooting from every
conceivable court position, and to drive serve to earn weak returns."
Foust was an outstanding high school wrestler known for strength and
single-leg takedowns. "The opposition licked their lips at seeing my little
leg during weigh-in, but then shrank on discovering it weighed ten pounds
less that put me into a lower weight class." He tried wrestling at Oklahoma
State and decided to forego for journalism studies on discovering he was
out-classed by the then NCAA championship team. However, he was introduced
to racquetball there when wrestling legend and racquetball Seniors national
champ Myron Roderick forced the grapplers onto the courts in rubber suits
and played them one-against-two while riding them to play harder.
Foust trained hard at those killshots, and after graduation moved to Denver
where he stepped into racquetball full time at the Denver Sporting House.
Now he plays able-bodied only, manages the hottest racquetball retail and
Internet store, Racquetball Catalogue Company, and talks fervently of the
sport to customers.