Junior Racquetball – The Mazur Family

King of Kids

by Karen May
Ed Mazur runs a Farmington insurance agency, but his true avocation is “king of kids,” or being in charge of the junior programs of the Connecticut Racquetball Association (CRA). Mr. Mazur is a past president of the association as well as a tournament player. It seems to be in the genes as well as their environment as both Mazur children, Eddie and Kara, are two of the elite Team Connecticut juniors. As regional champions, they competed in Phoenix, Ariz., at the U.S. Junior Olympic Championships at the beginning of the summer. Eddie won regionals in Vermont and New York, and Kara won both regionals and a junior national championship.

“Kara Mazur is the first national champion at any level of racquetball from this state,” said Juliet Campbell, who has been president of CRA since 1993. “I’ve been friends with Ed for 13 years through racquetball,” said Campbell, who is also a business associate of Mr. Mazur and “one of three coaches of the Mazur kids. Scott Eliasson, who is a professional player, is brilliant with them. I concentrate on their conditioning by drilling and some technical work and Ed does the basic strokes and such.”

“Since Eddie can already beat me at age 13,” said his father, “I guess we’re doing a great job. Actually, Kara and Eddie have tried everything sports-wise. He competed in cross-country at Avon Middle School last year and Kara’s going to start that this year. They both are on soccer travel teams and are going over with their mother after this interview to try tennis. We have no life except for driving them to various events.” Mr. Mazur said, with a laugh.

“Kara was a clean-up hitter on the softball team this summer. I think racquetball has enhanced her hand and eye coordination,” said the proud father. Ms. Campbell added, “Her reflexes are so good that she plays third base, ‘the hot spot,’ which is what I played on my college softball team as well. I don’t think I’m their favorite because of the repetitive nature of the drills I make them do. “Actually, Kara gets up every morning and runs two miles,” said Mr. Mazur. “She’s going to be 11 in November and she’s already pretty dedicated to working out. Of course, I am her dad but she’s an extremely athletic kid with a lot of skills.”

Has been an experience
As if on cue, Anna Mazur arrived at the office with Eddie and Kara as well as their individual “brag books” of pictures from competitions. “We’ve traveled all over as a family for racquetball,” said Mrs. Mazur, “and it’s a great learning experience. They’ve played in nationals and internationals, and know the Mexican team. Kara plays doubles with a girl from Nebraska and mixed doubles with a boy from Colorado,” she said. “They are both good students as well as having the sports. Since racquetball is not a scholarship sport, Eddie will probably do running or soccer at the collegiate level and Kara could get a scholarship for soccer or softball.”

“I’d like to do something with computers and math when I grow up,” said Eddie, “but I’ll always play racquetball, too.” His sister, Kara, said, “I want to be an architect and still play all my sports.”

“The promotion of the sport,” Mr. Mazur said, “isn’t as good as it could be, but there are people who are professionals earning money by endorsements and tournament winnings. Both Foxwoods and Ruth Chris’ Steak houses have been sponsors here in Connecticut as well as some of the equipment companies.”

Mrs. Mazur, who played racquetball in college, said, “It’s not an Olympic sport, but it is included in the Pan American Games. In fact, Laura Fenton, the mother of Jenny, the girl from Nebraska that plays doubles with Kara, played in the Pan American Games.”

She added, “Basically, the racquetball community is very close. We’re part of a group that extends from New York through Maine.

“Kara was actually born during a tournament,” remembered her mother. “Ed drove to the hospital, went back to finish up at the tournament and she was born within two hours. She actually took her first steps on a racquetball court on her first birthday a year later. We would throw a bunch of balls into the court and have it serve as a large playpen. The event is called the ‘Turkey Open’ and was held on November 5 that year. Kara was crawling around and the next thing we know she picked up a ball and started walking with it.”

Mrs. Mazur recalled, “Eddie actually played in our kitchen when he was little, with a ping pong paddle. It was a long narrow room, shaped somewhat like a court and he would bounce the balls off the wall all afternoon if I let him.”

Clinics, experience has helped
All this early exposure has catapulted both Mazur children into the winners circle at an extremely competitive level. Ms. Campbell credits the junior programs and children’s clinics that the association has been involved with.

“We have three training locations:
Healthworks in Wallingford and the Bristol and Newington Healthtrax. Six out of 10 members are on junior group, which are ages 6-17, when to junior nationals,” Ms. Campbell said.

Racquetball March-April 2000