Michael Stephens, a local Rockford man, started playing racquetball in the 80’s. He was a physical education teacher and was asked to teach a racquetball class. He knew nothing about the sport so he got a book about racquetball at the library. He started competing in the beginner division C.
In 2000, Mike had three hip replacement surgeries and the doctor said no more racquetball! In 2001 he had shoulder surgery. In 2003 he had knee a knee replacement. It had been 10 years since Mike had played racquetball when a good friend, Rich Westerbrink, a member at MVP and a former student of Mikes from when he taught at Forest Hills Northern, asked him to get back on the court. Mike had a blast and has been playing since, in spite of what the doctor said.
In 2004 Mike started traveling the nation and competing. He started at the division C once again. He won the nationals in his division. The following year he moved up to the B division and won the nationals. Then Mike moved move up to division A and won the nationals. Now he is competing in the highest division for his age group, the 70 Open.
What Mike loves most about racquetball is that he travels the nation and meets the nicest people from all over the world. They become lifelong friends. It gives him goals and motivates him to stay active and in good physical condition. Mike works out at the MVP in Rockford six days a week.
His regimen consists of walking on the treadmill, swimming, lifting, drilling on the court, and playing racquetball twice a week. His other hobbies are golf, hunting, fishing and talking in a leisurely hike or bike ride.
There are many great players at MVP for Mike to play with. He has been giving free lessons to employees. He wants to share his love for the sport.
Mike graduated from Northview in 1967. He was drafted in 1967. Mike was wounded in the Vietnam War and was awarded a Purple Heart. Mike graduated from Grand Valley State University with a bachelor’s degree in science and physical education with a minor in psychology. Mike has a heart condition called Atrial Fibrillation or (A-fib.) When he goes into A-fib, his heart races at a fast and irregular pace. Mike thanks God everyday for being able to enjoy life. Mike is known for his boundless energy and enthusiasm. He is a happy man and likes to surround himself with positive, fun people. Mike is such an inspiration to others to stay healthy and in good physical condition.
In 2011 Mike won the World Sportsmanship Award at the World Games in Albuquerque. In 2012 he was inducted into the Michigan Hall Of Fame for racquetball. Over the years, Mike has won 14 national titles and four 2nd place titles in Worlds.
In March of 2017, Mike took first in the 65+ Open at the State Championships in Michigan. In May, he took 1st for his bracket at the National Singles held in Temple, Arizona.
In March of 2018 Mike took 1st at the State Finals in East Lansing, Michigan. In April, Mike took 2nd in a younger division, 55/65 Open in the Atlanta Georgia Regional Singles. Him and his partner, Kelly LeBlanc from Atlanta, took 2nd in Mixed Doubles Open at Regionals in Atlanta, Georgia.
Mike is now training for the National Masters Racquetball Championships held in Denver, Colorado in July. Then the World Senior Games held in Albuquerque, New Mexico in August. Then another World Senior Games held in St George, Utah in October!
Mike continues to play racquetball and succeeds in the sport he loves.