- Freddy Ramirez
Time To Pivot
Six months into 2017 and this is my first post. I managed to get a podcast in with Jason Thoerner, the new top guy at USA Racquetball, but beyond that, output has mostly been a photo thing on Instagram. To date, Restrungmag has undergone many different forms for me. These forms included photo work, articles, work for racquet manufacturers, stints on US Open media teams and for the last few years, an opinion blog with a podcast peppered in. I continue to be somewhat connected with some of the underlying chatter and rumors within the sport, yet, as far the Restrungmag site goes, not much has happened in 2017.
That doesn't mean I haven't been fully engaged with racquetball. On the contrary, I've been pretty busy this year. For those who follow this blog and who don't yet know, I've been putting a ton of effort in with the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour, which for me, is turning out to be a challenge that I am enjoying. Over the past few years, I've had a ton of opinion on what is going on with the tours and in some way, things have presented an opportunity to put my money where my mouth is. The LPRT is a unique product in racquetball today, especially considering the state of the men's professional tours. For me, this year has been dedicated to realizing the differences and working with the tour and the players to identify strengths and position the tour to capitalize on them. This includes, focusing on new practices within the existing structure, actualizing a new fluid model, then incorporating them into how the tour currently operates. The focus this year, so far, has shaped up to be a re-focus on fundamentals while laying down a foundation to expand engagement for new lines towards marketing opportunities.
The LPRT is a great product. The players are engaged in their professional identities on a comprehensive level. TJ Baumbaugh, the tour President, has managed through a difficult transition during the first half of this past season. (Noted as #4 on Restrung Magazine's 2016 Top Ten List). TJ Baumbaugh is thoughtful and knows the tour's strengths and understands the tour needed to work on several aspects operationally. We agree the tour needs to be player centric. During my time gradually becoming involved with the LPRT, I've found TJ to be patient with her assessments, open and pragmatic. Because of that, the tour is pivoting towards a model that makes sense when you consider the LPRT's strengths, which are unique compared to the men's tours. In that, the tour is now committing to seek out and provide opportunities that play to the player's strengths as professional women, with the ability to attract casual fans. The players care and have significant input. They are smart. I like that, because when modeling makes sense, they get it and work. As a tour, unless we have a clear and viable plan to create opportunities for players, a stand alone model won't be found. The LPRT is the aggregate group of professional women athletes, as well as each individual professional. We believe we have unique opportunity compared to the other tours. We have re-thought the model and now have set targets across all of our operational endeavors. We have seen our engagement grow significantly over the past few months and we haven't even scratched the surface yet. It's exciting and scary at the same time. I'm hopeful for the players because they are the tour. In a ton of appreciable ways, the LPRT is presenting plenty of upside.