Racquetball sees decline in students enrolling for class

Racquetball had to cut two classes this semester due to low enrollment



Racquetball instructor Aziz Makhani talks about the high amount of juniors and graduating seniors who take his class and the recent low participation rates.

RYAN MOSHER, Evergreen reporter

On the ground floor of the Physical Education Building, Aziz Makhani teaches racquetball twice a week.

Makhani is the only instructor for racquetball and has been playing the sport for 35 years after his wife introduced him to it. At the end of this semester, he will have been teaching racquetball at WSU for three years.

Makhani planned to teach three credit classes this semester, two beginners and one intermediate, but not enough students enrolled in the classes. As a result, only one beginner’s class will be offered this semester.

“I had a tough time filling the class, but I did,” Makhani said. “It’s become increasingly difficult every semester … I think [University Recreation] is where all the focus is. I’m not the PE director, but I think that all PE classes are experiencing the same thing.”

To fill the class, Makhani said he printed advertisements at his own expense and reached out to several campus departments such as WSU Housing.

Makhani said current students recommended his class to friends, giving him the final enrollment numbers he needed to keep it.

Makhani said racquetball and other PE programs are valuable to students looking to stay active and learn a new sport.

“In this day and age, when students are really stressed with a lot of pressure, what a great way to break up their day and recreate,” Makhani said. “I make it a real educational experience that goes beyond the sport of playing and competing, it’s a lot of networking and being a Coug.”

While he was an undergraduate at the University of Texas in the early ’70s, PE was required for the first two years. Makhani said he took basketball and was always the last to be picked for a team, but he continued and learned the sport, later becoming a basketball referee.

Makhani said he is using innovative ways, especially social media, to recruit students and engage them in class. He said he wants racquetball to be a class everyone wants to take, and he hopes to see a better balance between genders in the future.

“There are amazing things that can happen,” Makhani said. “I think just having the class is good, but I think we need to take it to the next step.”

Makhani wants to allow students to take extra time throughout the week to look for jobs, especially the upperclassmen who make up most of the group. Class is also dismissed 10 minutes earlier than scheduled so students have time to change for their next class, he said.

“I make it so they get two absences that they can utilize any way they want, and then I show them how then can earn an additional four absences, especially seniors,” Makhani said. “If you don’t have a job you’re probably going to need some time off for interviews. You’re going to be stressed out, you’re going to have senioritis, but make sure you budget your absences.”

Students can earn additional absences by joining a Facebook group for the class or winning in-class tournaments. Students can also donate absences to other classmates to encourage networking.

“This is an experience that they may never get,” Makhani said. “I enjoy it. I’ve been playing for nearly 40 years. This is a beginner’s class, but I tell them, ‘I’m going to give you everything I have learned over the last 40 years of my life. I’m going to treat you like an advanced player.’ ”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated from its original version.