It takes a special brand of person with a unique, singular character to do what Donald Williams does. Williams, 40, is a primary reason the men’s professional International Racquetball Tour (IRT) is back in Atlanta. “Not many people can do what he does for the sport of racquetball and other people,” said Chad Bailey, tournament director for the Galaxy Custom Printing IRT Pro/Am, a top tier pro stop scheduled for Nov. 3-6 in Lilburn, GA. “The sport really needs more like him.”
Two companies owned by Williams – Galaxy Custom Printing and Williams Accounting & Consulting – are Gold Sponsors for the upcoming tournament. During the 2015-2016 IRT season, with the help of Williams, the professional-amateur tournament was elevated to a top-tier pro stop, with Williams the main sponsor.
In previous years the club played host to an assortment of tournaments on the IRT’s Satellite schedule, along with key amateur events like state and regional championships, and the Georgia Games every July. Now it is a pro stop that Williams believes will be a regular Tier 1 tournament for many years to come.
“Last year put us on solid footing, and I expect it to continue as a key pro stop on the Tour,” said Williams, an amateur entered in the Men’s Doubles 40+ bracket.
Like other players, Williams regularly competes on court, practices and enters tournaments. But he also takes it a step further than most, Bailey said. “He is a successful local business owner who sticks his profits right back into racquetball,” Bailey said. “Plus, he is just a great guy with a hilarious sense of humor. The sport needs more like Donald Williams.”
Although he enjoys playing the sport he discovered several years back, he said he also enjoys watching top shelf racquetball and being immersed into the culture of professional racquetball.
“Last year was so much fun watching the matches, but this year (2016-2017 IRT Season) I can’t wait to watch Kane Waselenchuk play in person. He is an amazing player. Last year he was a late scratch and I, like many others, cannot wait to see him perform,” Williams said.
Most players have traditional goals of winning trophies and hitting late-match winning kill shots. Williams has similar goals with one exception: “My goal is to see this event grow and become a cornerstone on the IRT schedule. I think we have it strategically positioned at the right time of year.”
Williams said he developed a passion for racquetball several years ago while visiting a health club that had racquetball courts. “It looked like a lot of fun, so one day I picked up a racquet, got on the court and began to play. I was hooked. I just love playing,” Williams said. “I was never big into sports growing up, but with racquetball I just can’t get enough.”
ABOUT DONALD WILLIAMS
|Education:||MA with concentration in history; BA from Southern University|
|Family:||Two brothers, two sisters|
|Residency:||Atlanta, raised in New Orleans|
|Business:||Owner of Galaxy Custom Printing and Williams Accounting & Consulting|
|Favorite “Crunch Time” serve:||Z-serve|
|Singles skill level:||B
|Nickname:||Disco (“My father was a disc jockey and they called him disco. I picked up the nickname from my father.”)|
|Hobbies:||Racquetball and cooking, especially Italian cuisine (Italian food especially. Pasta with a good meat sauce makes me happy!”)|
|Favorite Atlanta restaurant:||Atlanta Fish Market in Buckhead|
Don Grigas is an award-winning journalist who grew up on the south side of Chicago and is now living in Bolingbrook, IL, where he first developed a passion for racquetball. In 1979 Don played his first game of racquetball at the Bolingbrook Park District Racquet and Health Club. Within two years Don rose from a Novice to an Open player, and shortly thereafter became the club professional at the Naper Olympic Fitness Center for more than 20 years until that facility closed in 2007. After winning three state championships in doubles, Don retired from active playing and now writes for the IRT as well as working on other freelance projects.