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Life Fundamentals from Racquetball Champ

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Rocky Carson has turned his small, competitive space - into a broad sanctuary of deep conviction!

Rocky Carson: “I feel His Presence most, when He’s radiating through me rather than just in me. When I’m on the court I get to share it in a way of competing in a way that represents Him.”

He’s both a relentless competitor and man of principle, embracing a foundation not just to succeed but to handle success as one of the greatest racquetball players ever! A record 5-time world champion and winner of 19 national titles – Carson’s longevity is unmatched - ranked first in the world twice over a decade, earning a presence as one of racquetball’s leading spokesmen.

Question: “So Rocky, what descriptions best paint championship racquetball?” 

Rocky Carson: “The ball travels up over 180 miles an hour. You could almost call it: controlled chaos. Extreme athleticism with quite a bit of strategy and patience.”   

Question: “40 by 20 feet! How do you take what would appear to be such a closed, small area and open it up to multiple options?” 

Rocky Carson: “In a lot of sports, you don’t have walls to work with. When you are boxed in like that it starts becoming a little bit tight. At the same time, you start looking at the walls and all the angles that you have to work with, it opens up a realm of opportunities and the creativeness that you can come out with on a shot or a serve that maybe others are not really expecting. And you’re also using touch as well as, it’s a little bit of a checkers-chess match. So, there’s a lot of strategy too. Sometimes it's very little strategy and you want to just pound the crap out of the ball and be physical.”

Question: “Do you have an on-switch as a competitor?” 

Rocky Carson: “Oh, without a doubt! Without a doubt! That’s what I love! Knowing that go-time is coming up, little anxiety, ready to roll and knowing I better be ready mentally, physically, spiritually, that moment!"

Question: “These are individuals you know, right, some of them colleagues and friends, what is your approach to them as an opponent?”

Rocky Carson: “I wanna see the best for them, but not at my expense. I love seeing ‘em do well. But when it comes to me versus you, I wanna crush everybody the moment I get on the court. I don’t want you to feel like you belong. And that’s the competitive nature in me. Not that I want bad for you, I just don’t want good for you today.”  

Question: “You’ve got the rarity, 5-time consecutive world champion! How does one title, elevate you for the next?”

Rocky Carson: “That first title, when you’re at the top of the game – I finally got it! But once you have it, at least for me, I didn’t want anybody else to have it either.”

Question: “Intense competition and your opponent is right next to you. Do you find it draws the best and worst out of your humanity?” 

Rocky Carson:  “I love the competitive nature of what I get to do. The intensity, the grind, there’s physical contact at times and we both want to have what each other is going for. There’s no give up in that. There’s times I’ve walked off the court thinking, man, I’ve won the match but did I lose the battle in a way? Sometimes that battle’s within.”  
Question: “Is a competitor the expression of excellence?”  

Rocky Carson: “I think a competitor can be the expression of greatness and excellence. When you’re able to hone in on something and be disciplined and everything’s working together, it can be majestic in some ways, almost surreal to be in that moment and it feels amazing. Titles do feel good, but they’re momentarily. I feel most fulfilled when I’m closest to the Lord, not winning titles.”  

Question: “How have fundamentals befriended you?”  

Rocky Carson: “Fundamentals are the foundation of anything we do. Everybody looks at the results of something but the best athletes and the most successful athletes are the most fundamental athletes. They’re just building from the bottom up. We try to build these fundamentals in life, especially myself as a Christian, and having the Bible to guide me along with that. You take those fundamentals and you know who you are.”     

Question: “The limited space of racquetball and the vastness as a surfer. What does the sea bring you that the court can’t?” 

Rocky Carson: “The racquetball court has been my office since I was about 16 years old. I went professional at 18, but the moment I get in the water, I’m right there in what God made with His own hands. Paddle out and catch a few waves, gives me a lot of peace.” 

Question: “You’re a dad of two. Where’s your heart in mentoring next generation.” 

Rocky Carson: “I had great mentorship from my dad and he brought principles into my life at a young age -- perseverance. I had great parents, great family, my wife to teach fundamentals of life. How to respond in ways that they can take, not just on a field, or in water or on a court, but in life! Be given that responsibility and opportunity – is an honor!”

Question: “Rocky, where does the Kingdom of Heaven fit within that 40 by 20 court?”  

Rocky Carson: “Hmm. Wow, well, as we look at ourselves as Christians and representations of who Christ is, I look at the principles that were given to us from the Bible that I’ve been given outside the court is what I want to reflect on the court at 180 miles an hour or not. The actions I think speak so much more than the works. My job is to reflect Him. And if I do that well, that’s a success.”

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About The Author

Tom Buehring

Tom currently travels as a National Sports Correspondent for The 700 Club and CBN News. He engages household sports names to consider the faith they’ve discovered within their own unique journey. He has over 30 years of experience as a TV sports anchor, show host, reporter and producer, working commercially at stations in Seattle, Tampa, Nashville and Fayetteville where he developed, launched and hosted numerous nightly and weekly shows and prime-time specials. Prior to his TV market hopping, Tom proposed and built an academic/intern television broadcast program at the University of North