Racquetball might not be the most popular sport in Grand Junction, but the Valley has one of the best players in the country.
16-year-old Lily Caldwell is a junior at Grand Junction high school and has been playing racquetball for the last 12 years.
The sport interested her when she was around four, because she saw her older brother playing.
“I wanted to do everything my brother was doing,” Caldwell said. “He quit and I kept going with it.”
Good thing too, because she has a knack for it. This past year at the USA Racquetball Junior Nationals Caldwell was named the Junior Sportsman of the Year.
“This one was so meaningful to me, because it’s shown my character on the court and how I’ve grown over the years as well as off the court,” Caldwell said. “It just shows my character and how I portray the true meaning of the sport.”
Lily was the only Colorado representative at this past junior nationals, which she says is a little extra weight put on her shoulders.
It’s also kind of cool because I can represent my state and I can do my best so I can show what Colorado can do.”Lily Caldwell
“When Lily was probably around eight, she was able to go on the court and do drills and drills,” Lily’s coach Carol Pellowski said. “Most kids, after they were done, would just want to play or have fun. But, Lily had the ability to stay on the court and do what I ask her to do.”
Lily has yet to make the World Team, which is still on her list of goals. She practices at least twice a week, however, her and her coach would like to make it three to four days a week with other people.
The problem is finding others that are competitive and the same age as Lily in an area where the sport is not popular yet.
“Finding a real racquetball player who is committed and knows the rules is pretty sparse,” Lily said. “Including myself there are just two junior players. Myself and one of my really good friends.”
Lily mentioned that there are probably five ladies (any age) that play consistently. So, in order to stay competitive she practices against the men.
It is quite difficult because I don’t have the right competition.”Lily Caldwell
“Kids play so much different than adults do,” Lily added. “Especially the junior kids who are so competitive because they’ve worked for a long time to develop a strategy, their right serve, and their perfect shots and everything. I don’t get that here.”
That’s why she is trying to grow the sport herself.
There used to be a local program for people to play, however a majority of the program played at Crossroads Fitness, which has since removed it’s racquetball courts.
So, Lily is trying to start a racquetball club at Grand Junction high school.
“I’m trying to find a teacher that would come to every meeting/practice,” Lily mentioned. “I’ve got a few people who are interested. A couple of our juniors from Crossroads are now freshmen at Grand Junction. So I can be like, ‘Come back.’”
Lily said one of her main goals is to letter in racquetball before she graduates. But for now, she has to travel to various tournaments in order to compete against other girls her age.
Fun Facts about Lily:
- She has a job and also runs her own business of custom made dog collars.
- She wants to go pro as an adult racquetball player while also being an architect.
- She wants to design her own house that has two racquetball courts in it.