Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lin-sane like Kane

If you're in North America, and you're a sports fan, then you have heard of Jeremy Lin, because the hype about Lin following his performances since becoming the starting point guard for the New York Knicks has been inescapable. Lin has come from out of the blue and made an immediate impact on the Knicks and the NBA.

It's a great case of an athlete finding his niche in sport and making the most of it. Some have spoken of Lin and Steve Nash in the same breath, as Nash also had a huge impact in the NBA when he moved from Dallas to Phoenix, where Mike D'Antoni was the head coach, and it's D'Antoni, who's Lin's head coach now in New York.

But we here at The Racquetball Blog have been thinking of Lin as akin to Kane Waselenchuk. Waseelenchuk, who was spotlighted in a New York Times article this week, is another athlete who has found his niche in sport.

Waselenchuk could probably play any sport well, but he might not excel at them as he does at racquetball for a few reasons. One is that Waselenchuk's not a big guy, so hockey, football, and especially basketball wouldn't be great options, as those sports generally looks for players well over 6' tall.

Baseball and soccer would have been interesting options for Waselenchuk, but in any team sport Waselenchuk would just be one of the players, and you might not really appreciate how much talent he has. Thus, we think an individual sport suits Waselenchuk more than a team sport.

Though Waselenchuk has great body control that would be the envy of athletes in sports like wrestling, diving, or skiing, his eye-hand coordination is also outstanding, so a sport with a fancy stick and ball is called for.

Tennis is the most popular stick and ball sport world wide. But again, tennis usually demands a big guy. Most of the great tennis players are over 6', though a couple were 5'11" (Andre Agassi & John McEnroe), which what Waselenchuk's listed as in the US Open media guide but he might not be even that tall.

However, one of Waselenchuk's great attributes - perhaps the thing that separates him more than anything else from other racquetball players, even the great players like Cliff Swain and Sudsy Monchik - is his creativity in making shots. That creativity can be better expressed on a racquetball court - where there is no barrier to hit the ball over - than in other racquet sports, because you can - in theory - hit a winning shot from anywhere. Waselenchuk puts that theory into practice in just about every match he plays.

Sporting events are occasions where incredible things can happen. Things that make for the stuff of clich├ęs like "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?" Those incredible things can happen to anyone at almost any time.

But when an athlete finds their proper place in sport, the place where they truly fit, then real magic can happen. Indeed, it can almost be expected to happen. That's what Jeremy Lin has found in New York.

And that's what Kane Waselenchuk found on a racquetball court long ago.

Follow the bouncing ball....

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