Cal Poly’s racquetball classes would not be available if it weren’t for Bill Proll, a San Luis Obispo police officer and Cal Poly graduate who donates his time to teach the sport.
Proll has been teaching the classes for just more than a decade. When he first started helping out, there was another racquetball teacher, but when he retired, Proll took over and began teaching between two and three classes per quarter.
Proll began playing more than 25 years ago in high school and now plays about five times a week. He has played in several tournaments and the Police and Fire Olympics, but his full-time job is as the Detective Lieutenant for the city of San Luis Obispo.
“I’ve played in a lot of tournaments and I’ve done well, but I’ve never thought about playing professionally,” he said, laughing.
Proll graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in political science in 1986, although he didn’t complete all his coursework until 1989.
Physical Education 132 (Beginning Racquetball) and 133 (Intermediate-Advanced Racquetball) are basic instructional courses where students are taught the basics of how to play. Kinesiology 312 is a graded professional activity class requiring written and skill tests.
“The beginning class starts with the basics – forehand, backhand and all the rules,” Proll said.
All the classes are taught at the racquetball courts in the Rec Center and include at least an hour of playing time.
Industrial engineering senior Paul Kozar has taken classes with Proll and recommends it to anyone who is interested in learning racquetball or improving.
“If you have the opportunity to take one of his classes, it’s well worth the time,” he said.
Architecture senior Mark Fairman agreed, saying “It’s nice to have something like a PE class in the middle of the week to break up your other classes.”
Fairman has taken four classes with Proll and has been playing with him outside of class for the last five years.
Both Kozar and Fairman played racquetball before coming to Cal Poly, then began playing more after taking the classes.
“I played at home every now and then, but the classes really got me into it,” Kozar said.
The fact that Proll works at the police department does not affect his classes because he tries not to make a big deal of it.
“Most people don’t know he’s a police officer,” Fairman said. “He keeps it on the down low. He works downtown a lot and I’ll see him driving around sometimes when I’m at the bars.”
Proll also does charity events around the community and works at the Mid-State Fair, Kozar said.
Ektelon, a major racquetball company, sponsors Proll.
“They’re probably the most dominant racquetball company there is,” Fairman said.
One of the most unique things about what Proll does is that he isn’t paid for teaching the PE classes and is only paid for the kinesiology classes when the school has enough money. Most of the time, he is a volunteer teacher.
“There probably wouldn’t be a racquetball class if he didn’t teach it; Cal Poly couldn’t afford it,” Fairman said. “He takes the time out of his day to teach students.”