Coming to us all the way from “Winterpeg” Manitoba, Richard headed to B.C. with the intention of following his children to Vancouver. In the end, what was meant to be a pit stop in West Kelowna left him hooked on the Okanagan prompting him to put down his new roots here. Growing up Richard enjoyed a multitude of sports, but his opportunity at participation proved to be difficult as they often came at an expense. Coming from a large, poor family of 9 kids this wasn’t an option so he had to find opportunities to play sports in other ways. With an infinity towards athletics, and no fear in trying new sports, Global’s Racquetball Coach didn’t even attempt Racquetball until he was 35 years old! It was actually his girlfriend at the time who turned him onto the sport. After watching a few of her games, Richard became interested enough to get the ball flying. The more that Richard played the more he noticed that there weren’t a lot of inner city kids playing the sport, nor were there other aboriginal people like himself. He felt that this had a lot to do with the fact that Racquetball was played at private clubs or facilities that required memberships. Wanting to share the great sport of Racquetball with kids who grew up like himself, Richard found a way to get funding from the government so that he could purchase memberships and equipment for 30 kids! Richard was able to run that program for two years before making his move to Kelowna. 9 years later Richard joined us at Global so that he yet again could help create opportunities for children to play the sport.
- What is your favourite childhood memory?
Growing up in a large Catholic Metis family Richard’s favourite childhood memories revolve around Christmas. Every year on Christmas Eve his entire family would get ready for midnight mass. The younger ones were required to nap while the rest of the family made sure everything was in place for festivities. After mass, they would all come home, open their presents and stay up until the wee hours of the morning enjoying each other’s company. Around 6 am when the games were ready to be put away and the Pea Soup and Tourtiere that his dad made was gone they would all head to bed. Christmas day then of course was celebrated with the delicious turkey dinner his Mom prepared.
- What is your biggest struggle with life?
Richard’s biggest struggle with life growing up was learning that his truth didn’t have to be the one he was constantly being told as a Metis kid growing up in Winnipeg. Being consistently teased and called racial slurs by the children he went to school with was very emotionally challenging. This caused him to lash out physically as that was the only way he knew to respond to the tormenting. By the ninth-grade Richard was ready to pack it in on his education and get to work as the rest of the Metis population did. Fortunately, his Vice Principal Mr. Yanasuski had other plans for Richard. Mr. Yanasuski was an inspiring man that changed his life. He reminded Richard that while what his school mates are saying may be believed by them, they didn’t have to be Richard’s truth. He wasn’t any of these terrible things that they accused him of being. With this guidance, Richard felt that he could really do something with himself, he graduated high school, joined the army for a while, then got himself into University. Now working in a role he never envisioned for himself, Richard works for School District 23 as an Aboriginal Youth Wellness Worker. Who would have thought he would love school the second time around?
- What is your favourite spot in Kelowna?
Richard enjoys going for bike rides and walks on the Kettle Valley Railway with his wife Andrea.
- What is your favourite physical activity?
Obviously Richard’s favourite sport is Racquetball but he does also enjoy biking with his wife when they camp, kayaking, and snowshoeing
- What is something about you that not very many people know about?
When Richard was only 8 years old his neighbor nearly cut off his nose with a pair of gardening sheers! While the act sounds malicious it was really an attempted act of kindness. Playing a game of cops and robbers, the robbers would lick a leaf and stick it to their nose for easy identification. His neighbor thought he would be a great pal and used the sheers to snip Richard’s leaf so that it would fit perfectly on his nose. Obviously lacking a keen sense of depth perception, the little boy leaned in entirely too far and nearly snipped Richard’s nose nearly clean off! The tip of his nose dangling from a small flap of skin, Richard’s father grabbed him ice and raced him to the hospital in their station wagon. Along the way, they were stopped by a police officer, who clearly saw the urgency in the matter. Siren’s on, the officer led the way on his motor cycle alerting the hospital of Richard’s trauma. A doctor was able to neatly stitch his nose back into place with only faint indents as a reminder of what happened.
At the opening ceremonies for the Aboriginal Television Network in September 1999 Richard got his five seconds of fame! He got up on stage and sang back up for Susan Aglukark, famed Canadian Inuk pop star.
- If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
This summer Richard would like to go to China to attend the World Racquetball Championships. As this is the first time that they have been hosted in China, they are building a brand new 24 court club to host it! Bringing their first national team to the courts, China has hired an external coach from America to prepare them for the event! Over the past few years Racquetball has gained popularity in India, Korea, and a few other Asian countries. Richard feels this will be really good for the continuation of Racquetball with younger generations.
- If you were on death row what would your last meal be?
While he doesn’t have any plans to be on death row unless something absurd like a Zombie Apocalypse were to happen his last meal would be pasta. In fact, Richard would eat pasta every single day if he could get away with it!
Richard does one on one, couple, and group lessons as well as coach youth. He has even coached a young man to World’s! The wonderful thing about Racquetball is that while advancing in the sport may take some time you can get playing within 10 minutes of instruction!