Racquetball coach honored by USOC

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    By KEVIN FRANSON

    BYU racquetball recently received a national honor when head coach Dennis Fisher was named as the United States Olympic Committee Development Coach of the Year.

    “This is a great honor,” Fisher said. “I have a great love for this game. I enjoy the sport and I enjoy the kids.”

    Fisher, who served in the Air Force for 22 years, has been playing racquetball for as many years. He has been coaching at BYU since the spring of 1997. Fisher began his tenure at BYU by assisting the head coach Sylvia Sawyer during the Winter semester.

    Fisher has enjoyed the players he has had the opportunity to coach. He feels that the athletes at BYU bring something unique to the court.

    “The reason for our success is great, great kids,” Fisher said. “They are not players who are still searching for something. Most of them have served LDS missions and most are married. They know what they want from life and that helps them to focus on the goals they have on the racquetball court.”

    Sawyer, the former head coach and current assistant coach, agrees with Fisher when it comes to the skills of the players.

    “They are good kids. They work hard and their work has paid off for them,” Sawyer said.

    Sawyer feels the award is a representation of many years of hard work in the racquetball program.

    “It’s nice that BYU is receiving some recognition for the effort that has gone into the development of the racquetball team over the past 12 years,” Sawyer said.

    Fisher recognized the importance of the ground work which had been laid before he arrived at BYU.

    “It is the hardest thing to come in and take over a No. 1 program and continue it on,” Fisher said. “I couldn’t have done it without Sylvia. She plays a vital role in relating to the players, especially the female athletes. She takes care of the business side and the logistics.”

    Fisher’s accomplishments and coaching style have helped to keep the program at its high level. His tough style of coaching is well accepted by the racquetball players.

    “I’ve played a lot of sports and he’s the best coach I’ve ever had,” said Valorie Woodbury, the current no. 1 women’s racquetball player at BYU. “He’s tough, but when you improve he is very proud. He wants you to be better, so he doesn’t let mistakes go by. He sets team and individual goals for us to work for.”

    The USOC award for 1999 Development Coach of the Year was officially awarded during an award banquet Saturday. The banquet was held in Washington, D.C. The USOC noted the BYU women’s racquetball dominance over the past five years as part of the reason for the award.

    At the 1999 National Championships, BYU captured its fifth consecutive women’s team title, in addition to its second-place finish in the overall team competition. The women’s team at BYU has been extremely prosperous with 23 singles, 11 doubles and five team titles going to BYU women since 1995. BYU has also won three overall team titles at the championships in previous years.

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