Friday, August 21, 2015

Interview with Sudsy Monchik

Sudsy Monchik, a four time US Open Champion, five time #1 player on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT), Pan Am Games gold medalist, and USA Racquetball Hall of Fame member, coached Team Ecuador at last month's Pan Am Games in Toronto. Towards the end of the week, we interviewed Monchik about his experience in Toronto.

TRB: How did you come to coach Team Ecuador?

Monchik: It was at a women's pro stop, an LPRT event, in January. I saw Veronica Sotomayor, Ecuador's #1 player, and she asked would I be interested in coaching her. She was playing Paola Longoria at the time, and she looked like she could hang. She had the ability and obviously the passion and the drive. And I said sure. Honestly, I didn't think much of it. I went back home. Another week or two later, she contacted me, and the ball got rolling, then the Ecuador government got involved, and here I am.

What it's like being an American coach coaching a non-American team?

It was tough. These guys came out to New York for two months prior to this event. So the sacrifice was pretty amazing. And like I told them, and told my fellow Americans, I'm a competitor. I like to compete. That's what I've done my whole life. I've competed against my best friends and family members, so this is just another competition.

What did you address first in coaching the team?

I let them know that a lot our approach is going to be mental strength and conditioning. At this level so many players can do so many of the same things well, and to me it's what does it take to get to that next level, not just physically, but mentally. What's your plan? What's your approach? I kind of reconditioned their entire minds into what I believe is what it takes to become a champion.

Do you have an ongoing commitment to coach Ecuador?

It's in the air, not confirmed or unconfirmed. They go back to their government. They [the players] want me to continue working with them. I want to continue working with them. Now, it just has to make sense to everybody.

You competed at the first Pan Am Games that included racquetball in 1995 in Argentina, how does this experience - the set up in Toronto, being a coach compared to a player - feel to you?

First off, Toronto has done a top shelf job. It's been absolutely amazing. The city, the people, the volunteers. Everybody's been absolutely incredible. When I played in '95 in the first one, it was in Argentina. It was a little different.

As far as [coaching], I didn't realize how hard it was to coach, because as a player, as a competitor in life, it's so hard to be out there and have no control of the outcome. And I'm exhausted. I'm physically drained. I played every match and every point, because I feel like I'm in there with them. Their success is their success, but their defeat is my defeat, and I put that on me. They have a lot to learn. This is an amazing group, and I'm looking forward to helping them improve. They're driven, and they're ready. They are right there.

Apart from Team Ecuador, do you see more coaching in your future?

Yeah, I love it. I'm definitely available to coach. I live in New York. I love coaching. The passion has been brought back. I had a lot of amazing memories. Being here at the Pan Ams, it brought back so many memories from Argentina. The coaching really has relit that flame that we all have that racquetball flame. This is the first time I've been around racquetball for so long and so much in many, many years.

Describe the level of competition that you've seen here.

I think it's amazing. I think what South America is doing, what Mexico is doing, is spectacular for the sport. With that said, Rocky Carson comes here. He wins the gold medal. He's the number two ranked player in the world. Paola Longoria comes here. She's the number one player. She wins gold. And my answer to that is that's awesome. Congratulations. But as an ex-professional - and ex-amateur - I say that's what you're supposed to do. You're supposed to come represent. You're the best in the world. Number two in Rocky's case. Number one in Paola's case. You did your job. That's what you're supposed to do. You guys are the best players in the world.

These countries are amazing. The fight they have. The motivation, the drive, the competition's great. But the best players at the end usually prevail.

Follow the bouncing ball....

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