IRT Red Swain Award Winner Takes Gold and Scholarship
Florida Spring Break Pro Am Champion (18U), Brad Schopierary, made his second finals appearance in two weeks, earning Gold and a scholarship to the Elite Training Camp in Colorado Springs this summer. The USAR National High School Silver Medalist is a regular in the finals according to his dad, Don Schopieray, and ready to play the IRT full time next year.
“He has made the finals or won almost every local tournament he entered this Season. [2010-2011 IRT Season] He will use the grant to play in Nationals in
Fullerton California. So far, everything is in place for him to play full time on the IRT [International Racquetball Tour] next year.”
The grant his proud father refers to is the inaugural Red Swain award, presented after the 2010 US Open in Minneapolis last fall. Brad didn’t have time to play in the country’s largest tournament, but was able to squeeze in a quick weekend trip to watch some pro matches before accepting his award. “He does not have the normal life of a seventeen year old. He trains six days a week in the gym and on the courts. On weekends he plays tournaments.”
He works out between classes while working toward his certification as a nurse’s aide, a job that will give him the flexibility to play the pro tour full time beginning next year. Brad wasn’t looking for a career, but started playing because his parents made him participate in a sport each season. “So I figured I’d try racquetball and see what happened.”
What happened is that he hit with his dad, played in the junior leagues, and then discovered tournaments, winning his first event in the 10U division. Don Schopieray recalled how the family increasingly enjoyed traveling together to tournaments as his son flourished in the “good kid environment.” They visited a lot of great cities they wouldn’t have otherwise. Brad still plays and trains with some of the same players he met, like Markus Rojas, Chris Cole, and Jimmy Floyd.
It’s not just a strong community of peers that has helped Brad develop, but the input from others. His dad appreciates the support. “We couldn’t ask for better resources, and by that I mean from the encouragement of good people. He’s sponsored by Head and it means a lot to have a guy like Doug Ganim put a hand on your shoulder and say that even though it’s tough to lose, but you played well and to keep at it.”
Brad appreciates the help he’s received, already giving back on down the line. According to Don, if he wants to mess around, he gives a lesson to a multi-bouncer or junior in the club. “That’s his fun time. If better players hadn’t take time with him, he wouldn’t be where he is now.”
Brad savored his memories from the US Open where he watched every professional match with a view unique to the stadium court – from behind the front wall. “The stuff they get is crazy. Shots everyone else thinks are down, they get. It’s cool to watch.”
Winning the Red Swain award and the Elite Camp scholarship means he doesn’t just get to watch the pros play on the stadium court, but perhaps compete there, too. The prize money will pay for his trip to Ektelon Nationals in Fullerton California next Memorial Day weekend, the next stop on the way to his professional career in racquetball.
In the meantime, Don’s glad that Brad job done, winning U18 in two, 15-9 and 15-5, as he posted on his Facebook account adding, “a special thanks to John Scott and the guys at the http://enetlive.com/irt/ for putting up the trip to Jim Winterton’s elite camp, we are really looking forward to being affiliated with them next year, thanks again!”