Chicken N Pickle: Food, Fun and Pickleball All Under the Same Roof

Many players speak in awe of Chicken N Pickle, the “do-it-all” restaurant/entertainment complex hybrid that’s taking the pickleball world by storm. For those who haven’t heard of it yet, it’s time to remedy that so you can start booking a trip down to Kansas City, Missouri!

Chicken N Pickle Complex

The fantastic Chicken N Pickle complex

Chicken-N-Pickle consists of an incredible 8 courts (4 indoor and 4 outdoor), a beer garden with a shack serving 25+ canned beers, full bar and sandwiches.

There’s also a 5,600 sq. ft. restaurant featuring wood fire rotisserie chicken with all-natural healthy ingredients, 30+ TVs, a rooftop bar, courtyard with a jumbo TV and yard games that opened last November.

Maybe if we ask nicely we can live there?

Thanks to Kellen Mumm, the VP of Operations, for kindly taking the time to share new details about this wonderland and how it got started! [Note: This interview was conducted last year and so all mentions of specific dates were for 2016.]

How was Chicken N Pickle conceived? Or: What came first, the Chicken or the Pickle? 

Chicken N Pickle was born over a couple of beers. David Johnson, the owner, was the first to bring up the idea. [Want to know something really weird? David Johnson is the owner of PickleballCentral, but he’s a different David… weird coincidence!]

He saw pickleball and was amazed by the social aspect of the sport. It was incredible to see 30+ people all hanging around these courts talking and having fun. He played with some friends for the first time in AZ and (just like everybody else) played one game and was hooked.

Inside the Chicken N Pickle restaurant

Inside the Chicken N Pickle restaurant

He knew we needed this in Kansas City and his first thought was to add a restaurant. One of his favorite restaurants in the Grand Cayman Islands is called Chicken! Chicken! So he thought, “Why not a rotisserie chicken place?” Bill Crooks was brought on as a consultant because of his experience opening over 30 restaurants nationwide, and he’s helped us find some incredible talent such as Bill Koning as General Manager and Alex Staab as Chef.

Since that initial meeting, our idea has grown into the giant complex you see today.

Do you play pickleball personally? Where did you first discover the game and what are your favorite parts of it?

I first played pickleball in high school, but I didn’t know it was called pickleball at the time because my PE teacher decided to name it after himself! I rediscovered it (this time under the right title) when CnP was born and have been playing ever since. Since we opened I play 5-6 times per week and I like to think I’m getting pretty good.

Chicken N Pickle Indoor Courts

Chicken N Pickle indoor courts

I love how easy it is to get started, and it’s the only sport that you can play with anyone regardless of age, gender and athletic ability. It’s a great family sport and a great date night sport. Since I’m very competitive by nature it’s fun to compete at, and it’s humbling when someone twice my age runs me around the court and doesn’t let me score a point…

Your group seems to use a lot of Selkirk-branded paddles – is there are partnership between you two? And if so, how did that come about?

I was introduced to Andy Gensch, who is one of the few 5.0 players in the Kansas City area. He then introduced me to Selkirk and they’ve just been amazing to work with. We use the Selkirk 20P-XL as our rental paddles so our customers get to play with top-of-the-line equipment. We want everything at CnP to be tournament-grade pickleball and Selkirk helps us achieve that. I personally play with the 300A-XL and love it.

Andy Gensch

Andy Gensch

What are your eventual goals with Chicken N Pickle? Would you like to expand to more locations or are you concentrating on building your first location for the time being?

We would love to bring Chicken N Pickle to other cities across the country as we feel pickleball is growing faster than it can handle and we want to help that cause. We are focusing on making this first one work; there have been and will be more lessons from this prototype that will help us bring our concept to many locations.

What has the local response been like? Do you find yourself getting customers who are already picklers, or more newcomers to the sport who get hooked after visiting?

We’ve taught pickleball to more people than I can count. It’s been amazing! The local picklers and newcomers stop by because there’s no place like it and CnP has this atmosphere of fun. We have a lot of leagues going now and I would say 50% are people that have started playing at CnP in the past 2 months.

The Chicken N Pickle outdoor courts duting construction

The Chicken N Pickle outdoor courts duting construction

Andy Gensch seems to help out with teaching at Chicken N Pickle, and you have classes coming up with other pros as well. Are you looking to do outreach to develop other events like this?

Andy has been amazing and I have the testimonials from his lessons to prove it! He has been a big part of bringing people like Enrique Ruiz and Dee Davidson in for clinics, which were huge successes. We also have Dave Wienbach coming for a clinic and he’ll play in our October tournament.

Andy loves pickleball and has been instrumental in growing the game. We both love the fact there are so many new faces. The clinics and lessons he provides are going to make the sport that much more competitive. We do beginner clinics and advanced clinics as much as we can to help give our players more resources.

You host food trucks in addition to your rotisserie offerings. How did that idea develop and do you find it adds another layer of fun for visitors? It seems like you use a lot of nearby stores to give people a locally-flavored experience.

We are huge on everything local. Local produce when we can, local beers (we plan to have 28 taps with all local flavors). People in Kansas City love  supporting their neighbors and we’re no different.

David Johnson of Chicken N Pickle

Bill Crooks, primary Chicken N Pickle consultant

Is there anything in particular you’d like to say to our PickleballCentral readers?

I would invite anyone passing through Kansas City to stop by and play a game and give me feedback! We want to grow pickleball as much as possible. We also have events every month, such as: Oktoberfest on September 1st, Halloween on October 2nd and our first ever pickleball tournament Oct 20 – 24. Sign-ups have been going fast.


You can find out more about Chicken N Pickle on their site and find out what events they have coming up at their blog. Everyone visit if you can, and send them some love to let CnP know you want to see MORE of their facilities in the near future!

 

Throwing Our Hat Over the Wall – PickleballCentral is Moving!

“Three people were on a journey. They had walked thousands of miles across the country when they came to their biggest obstacle – a solid brick wall. Instantly one man threw his hat over the wall, so he had no choice but to climb it.”   – Old Irish Adage

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The new home of PickleballCentral is FOUR TIMES the size of our current location.

We signed the lease yesterday – our figurative, “hat over the wall.” PickleballCentral is moving to a warehouse/office space that is FOUR TIMES the size of our current location.

The new space will have four indoor pickleball courts. The courts will be open to the public every day of the week from early morning to late at night. The new space will host pickleball clubs, pickleball tournaments, pickleball lessons, pickleball pro-tours and pickleball parties!

The new space will also have a big retail store that will provide customers an opportunity to touch, feel and demo paddles on the courts and try-on pickleball clothing!

Finally, we are extremely proud to announce that the new space will be home to The Pickleball Museum! Pickleball is an American Original. It was invented a short ferry ride from Seattle on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

The sport of pickleball likely would not have left Bainbridge Island if it weren’t for one man, Barney McCallum.  Barney and his friends the Pritchards and Bells invented the game by accident in the summer of 1965.  Their kids were bored and they didn’t have equipment to play badminton, so they used what they had on-hand to play “badminton”, a whiffle ball and table tennis paddles.  They lowered the net and voilà pickleball was born!

Barney started making wood pickleball paddles by hand for friends. In 1972, to keep track of the accounting and taxes, Barney started a small business in Seattle called Pickle-ball Inc. Barney already was a very successful businessman with his own big company, McCallum Envelope. He didn’t need to start another business, but thank goodness, he did! Pickle-ball, Inc made paddles, balls and net systems and the sport grew. Other pickleball equipment manufacturers emerged in the Seattle area – ProLite Sports and S-Type Sport, now called Onix Sports. Today, thanks to Barney McCallum, pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the world!

With our acquisition of  Pickle-ball Inc. last fall, we are excited and honored to create The Pickleball Museum as a place where people can learn about the history of pickleball and learn about Barney’s extraordinary contribution to the sport.

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Barney McCallum is one of the inventors of Pickleball and founder of Pickle-ball Inc.

For years my husband, David, has collected pickleball artifacts. We have some of the first paddles made, an old pickleball hole drilling machine and other items. If you have a pickleball item that you think belongs in The Pickleball Museum, please contact David Johnson, David@PickleballCentral.com.

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New home of PickleballCentral, Pickleball Inc. and The Pickleball Museum.

We move in early April 2017. Come check us out when you are in town! Our new address is 22330 68th Ave. S., Kent, WA 98032.

 – Anna Copley, founding partner, PickleballCentral.com

Meet The Pros: Steve Kennedy

Meet The Pros – Steve Kennedy

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Steve Kennedy has achieved the perfect balance between tennis and pickleball. He is passing it on to his younger tennis students as well. Way to go, Steve! Enjoy!

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

I’m new to pickleball tournaments and have been fortunate to medal in each one I’ve played last year:
2016 USA Masters Games – Doubles Gold with Steve Rose and Mixed Doubles Silver with Lucy Kitcher
2016 Georgia Mountain Pickleball Fall Classic – Silver with Joe DiMauro
2016 Kentucky Senior Games – Singles Gold and Doubles Gold with Jeff Carlson
2016 Geezer Meister – Doubles Silver with Scott Tingley
2016 USAPA Nationals – Singles Silver

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Engage Encore Pro paddle with added head weight. I love the touch, control and power that the Engage paddle gives me. Jodi and Robert Elliott are great to work with and helped me to find the perfect paddle for my game.

What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

I discovered pickleball totally by accident while sitting on the soccer field watching my son practice in Davie, Florida. I kept hearing a loud popping noise and walked over to investigate. When I realized that pop was the sound of the pickleball hitting the paddle, I was intrigued. I was immediately offered a wooden paddle by a super friendly group of people and I was hooked.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

Living in Florida allows me to play outdoors all year long but I enjoy playing indoor as well. It’s nice to mix it up.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I love the strategy and teamwork associated with doubles. Because of my prior professional tennis career, I also like singles because I’m guaranteed to get every ball, where in doubles, there are times I rarely see one.  In singles it’s all up to me…all of the mistakes are mine and so are the winners.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Davie, Florida is my pickleball home. It’s where I discovered the game and it’s where I play with the greatest people in the whole world. I’d like to give a shout out to every one of them but I have too many pickleball friends to list. I’ll just say that Davie Pickleball people are the best and if you’re in Florida we’d love to have you join us.

Steve Kennedy with some of his tennis summer camp kids hitting pickleballs — with George English Tennis Camp, Engage pickleball and Steve Kennedy Pickleball.

Steve Kennedy with some of his tennis summer camp kids hitting pickleballs — with George English Tennis Camp, Engage pickleball and Steve Kennedy Pickleball.

What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

I’m a power player so I have to say that it’s OK to play with power, however, you must develop a proficient dink game and be able to turn on your finesse at any moment. I like to be unpredictable and switch up my game at unexpected times, keeping my opponent confused.  My tips are simple:
     Don’t let your game become predictable.
    Drill, drill, drill and spend 80% of your practice time on your dink game.

Gold with partner Neil Friedenberg, Englewood CA

Gold with partner Neil Friedenberg, Englewood CA

What’s your day job?

I’ve been teaching tennis at Jimmy Evert Tennis Center in Fort Lauderdale for 26 years. I’m also an IPTPA-certified pickleball instructor which allows me to share the sport that I love by teaching others to play. I love both tennis and pickleball, but pickleball is new and exciting and the rapid growth is exciting as well. I encourage all of my tennis clients to try pickleball. It’s great to have a variety of physical activities to choose from and pickleball is conducive to fun for the whole family.

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?

I typically play 4 or 5 days a week for about 2 hours a day. I live a couple of miles from Davie Pickleball so I hop on my bike or my scooter and head over late afternoon. My wife loves to play and travel with me which makes my pickleball life a lot easier!

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

We all feel the nerves before a big tournament. I try to just focus on having fun and relaxing. I do depend on a secret holistic spray for nerves given to me by my good friend Dan, and I chew gum, lots of gum, before I go on the court.

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?

My goal is to continue to love playing pickleball in the future as much as I love it today while introducing the sport to as many people as I can.

Steve Kennedy and Charles Rose win Gold in Men's Doubles, USA Masters Games

Steve Kennedy and Charles Rose win Gold in Men’s Doubles, USA Masters Games

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?

Wow, really, one of the best in the world? Thanks for that compliment! I’m so excited about playing pickleball because I have so much more to learn and I feel that I can continue to work hard and get so much better. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to play and train with some of the very best players in the world here in Florida. I also have a group of South Florida Pickleball Club training partners here in Davie who spend a lot of time with me playing and drilling. They give me an unbelievable amount of support in practice and at tournaments. I owe a lot of my success to the people who have helped me with my game by just spending time with me on the court. Again, too many people to list but each of you know exactly who you are, so THANK YOU!

Pickleball Helps Keep Youth Active in Yavapai County Detention Center

We all know pickleball is great for stress relief, and who better to benefit than cooped up kids? Last year the Prescott Pickleball Association and its associates took the game to those who’d appreciate it at the Yavapai County Detention Center. The youth had a great time learning the game and getting to release some steam.

Listening for Opportunities

The idea was planted when former racquetball champion Jerry Northwood formed the Prescott Pickleball Association with members of his club, the Willow Hills PBC, and other interested players. The group was looking to construct eight outdoor courts at Prescott’s Pioneer Park and needed city council approval to move forward.

Before Jerry got a chance to speak with the council, a woman named Gay Staling from the Yavapai County Detention Center gave a presentation.

Yavapai County Detention Center Demo

From left to right: Ben Sialega, Jerry Northwood and J.T. Schulze demonstrates pickleball during a visit to the center

Jerry had never considered putting a program together for detainees, but was inspired by the thought and introduced himself to Gay afterwards. To his surprise, he didn’t have to overcome any logistical or security nightmares. In fact, the YCDC already had a gym on site!

With the help of fellow pickler Ben Sialega, Jerry visited the center and determined what would be needed to arrange a 2-hour clinic for 11 boys and 11 girls (one hour for each group). Members from the Willow Hills PBC donated both equipment and time as volunteer coaches after going through a background check.

Sharing the Fundamentals

The clinics involved an introduction and history of pickleball followed by a demonstration using advanced players.

“We made sure to use both male and female players so that everyone could see it’s possible to be competitive regardless of gender. For those in the group who had experience with similar sports like racquetball, tennis or table tennis, we showed them how quickly they could pick up the game and start having fun.”

The schedule included a daily 1-hour visit over the course of a week to teach the kids all the basic rules, safety tips and warm-up exercises. After a positive response from the youth (ages 12-18) and the detention officers, they continued the program 1 day a week for 2 hours. The youth, staff and volunteer coaches all appreciate the new activity.

Yavapai County Detention Center Explanation

Jerry Northwood explains pickleball to youth in the juvenile detention center

“When a student is released from the facility I give them my card and encourage them to call me so I can set them up with a club in their area. Hopefully the desire to keep on playing will be a healthy distraction from other things they could get involved in,” Jerry says.

Rallying toward a Happier Future

In addition to the detention center, the Prescott Pickleball Association provides duplicate programs for the Boys/Girls Club of Prescott. They have one indoor court with approximately twenty youth, ages 12-15. They call the program “modified” pickleball as the ceiling is only 8’ high.

“Believe it or not, this actually works and the staff and youth love it! They are currently in the process of constructing three outdoor pickleball courts as part of a sport court. We are two months into this program.

Willow Hills Pickleball Club also has a program for youth ages 10-15. They have 3 indoor courts and run the clinic for 1-1/2 to 2 hours each week.”

The youth of the YCDC tapping paddles in the "good game" gesture

The youth of the YCDC tapping paddles in the “good game” gesture

“We have a ball machine we named Samson to help teach. Our primary objective is to have kids learn the sport so they can be competitive with adults. We did have complaints about balls ending up all over the place beforehand… for some reason, the adult players didn’t appreciate that! Now we have 11-year-old youths playing in adult tournaments.

Finally, we have a program for veterans and first responders to learn racquetball and pickleball. The vets live at the VA and in a VA program for PTSD, brain injury trauma and alcohol/drug abuse. This program is the first of its kind in the U.S. and has been going for over three years now.

It’s extremely rewarding to see lives changed.”

A great big “thank you” to Jerry and his associates for letting us share their story and for putting forth the effort to support people of all ages from all walks of life with the power of pickleball.

Meet The Pros: Cammy Ward

Meet The Pros – Cammy Ward

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Cammy is a professional tennis instructor who happens to love pickleball, and she has some advice to all tennis players – it can improve your tennis game! Enjoy!

Can you list us your major wins? 
2016 USAPA Nationals 35+ Doubles – Gold 
2016 USAPA Nationals 35+ Women’s Singles- Gold 
2016 USAPA Nationals 35+ Mixed Doubles – Silver
2016 USAPA So. Cal Summer Classic Women’s Doubles Open –  Bronze
2016 USAPA So. Cal Summer Classic Women’s 35+ Doubles –  Silver
2016 USAPA So. Cal Summer Classic Mixed Doubles Open – Bronze 

 What paddle do you play with and why?
I play with the Engage Encore Pro Paddle. I like this paddle because of its power and control. I get good feel off the ball too. 

What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?
I was introduced to pickleball little over a year and half ago by my tennis friends. They kept saying come try pickleball, you’ll love it. I’m thinking, “What the heck is pickleball?!” One night I went over to Bobby Riggs with my friends, Steve and Jen Dawson, and they started dinking with me and telling me all these crazy rules about pickleball. I thought, There’s no way I can think about hitting the ball, dinking the ball, 2 bounce rule, understanding the score! And why am I saying 3 numbers when I’m calling the score? This is way too much for my brain to process.” Well, me being competitive, I instantly got hooked within half a dozen times of playing. I started to understand all those crazy rules of pickleball and from then on, I have entered pickleball tournaments and am just having a blast.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?
I live in San Diego, so outdoor pickleball is my choice.

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Cammy Ward at the So Cal Classic

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
I have played both singles and doubles, mostly doubles though. I like singles. The only problem is it’s too hard on my body. So I stick to doubles; less court to cover and you have your friend next to you.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?
I honestly have not played too much outside of California, except for the USAPA Nationals in Arizona and Tournament Of Champions in Utah. If I had to pick a favorite place to play, its Bobby Riggs in Encinitas, California.

What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?
My secret sauce is this homemade sauce I have for my BBQ Ribs!!!

What’s your day job?
For my day job, I teach tennis at La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, CA.

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?
I play pickleball maybe 2 times week. It kind of depends on my teaching day. After standing out on a hard court for 6 hours hitting tennis balls, sometimes I just can’t get my body to go play pickleball. I would rather hang with my dogs and a cold beer. Saturdays or Sundays I’m off, so if I’m going to play pickleball, those would be the days.

cammy-ward-action-shotAny lucky rituals before a big tournament?
No, I don’t have any lucky rituals before a tournament. I just go out and play and whatever happens, happens. I’m there mostly to have FUN!

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?
Honestly, pickleball is just another game for me.  I am out there to have fun when I am playing.  This game is not my day job, it’s not going to pay my bills. I don’t set goals, I go out and play and the team that wins is the better team that day.

cammy-ward-action5

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?
The one thing I constantly hear from tennis players who have also played pickleball is that pickleball is so much more social than tennis. This is what I love about the game!  Pickleball is such a fun game to play, and its the only game where you can get 16 people playing on only one tennis court! You can play 3 hours with people you have never met and next thing you know, you are exchanging phone numbers and having a cold beer with them. Very Cool!
One more thing, I am always hearing from tennis players who have never tried pickleball that it’s going to hurt my tennis game. This is SO not the case. To all tennis players out there, please try pickleball. If you are a doubles player in tennis, pickleball will help with your touch, reflexes, strategy and placement in tennis.

1st Anniversary of the Pickleball Magazine

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Pickleball Magazine, the first magazine dedicated to America’s fastest-growing sport, was launched in January 2016. Wayne Dollard of Dollard Publishing is responsible for starting the magazine! We are glad to share his story on how this fabulous publication got started. Enjoy!

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Wayne Dollard, Dollard Publishing

In the 1990s, I was a Color Systems Specialist for Canon. In 1999 I began publishing a national magazine for the sport of Platform Tennis, just for fun. A few years later, I quit my day job and began adding direct-mailed community magazines to my publishing portfolio. By 2015, I had 40 employees and 42 magazines being direct mailed to over 2 million households.

I was introduced to pickleball when I visited family at The Villages, Florida. I have a competitive tennis background and even played a couple years at Penn State. I was also nationally ranked in platform tennis for several years until I was permanently sidelined by a back injury and surgery in 2011. I began playing pickleball socially last year. In my first tournament, I won a few rounds at the US Open 35 Mixed and Men’s 4.5 Doubles. I have since won a few local tournaments.  My wife Lisa and sons Jordan, Brenden and Tyler really enjoy pickleball, so we’ll be putting a court in our backyard this spring.

US Open LogoIn June of 2015, I received phone calls from Terri Graham, Director of the 2016 US Open Pickleball Championship, and Chuck Vietmier, Director of Product Marketing for Gamma Sports, who encouraged me to launch a magazine for pickleball.

I did further research on the sport, and had positive discussions with Justin Maloof, the Executive Director of the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA).  Justin gave me the statistics that made this venture all the more attractive: 2.5 million players worldwide, USAPA membership growth from 4,071 to over 10,000 in 3 years and a similar rate of growth in places to play listed on the USAPA website. usapa

Justin and I brainstormed content features and the first Pickleball Magazine was published in January last year. The USAPA does not have an ownership interest in the magazine, but we offer them free content and they email the magazine to their 10,000+ player membership. The USAPA has been very helpful in getting Pickleball Magazine started.

Now, just 14 months after launching, we email each issue of the magazine to over 100,000 people, as well as sending print copies in the mail to 5,000 people. We also distribute the magazine to over 200 Barnes and Noble locations. Both the digital and print subscriptions for Pickleball Magazine are growing every day. We imagine Pickleball Magazine will continue to grow in popularity for many years to come.

Thank you Wayne for giving us your story on how the first Pickleball Magazine got it’s start. You’ve done a great job with this publication and we look forward to all of your future issues!

If you are interested in subscribing to Pickleball Magazine, here is some great information for you:

  • Pickleball Magazine is published six times per year.
  • Each issue runs around 60 – 70 pages and contains 20 or more feature articles.
  • Each issue contains four to six great instructional articles with detailed recommendations for drills, strategy, and skills development.

Click here to subscribe to Pickleball Magazine

Meet The Pros: Steve Paranto

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Meet The Pros – Steve Paranto

Steve Paranto has been a mover and a shaker in the world of pickleball since the 1970s. He loves this game and shows no signs of slowing down in his dedication to pickleball. Enjoy!

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

I placed 2nd in both singles and doubles in the tournament billed as the world’s first Pickleball Championship in 1976 at Southcenter Athletic Club, which is very memorable for being so long ago.  
My first major gold medal would have been around 1984 or ’85 with my men’s doubles partner Richard Skevington. It was one of the first USAPA Doubles Championships held in Tacoma, Washington.

I have also won:
Four-time Senior Singles Shampion at the Huntsman World Senior Games
Three-time National Senior Men’s Doubles Champions with my Partner Randy Bither
Indoor Senior Mixed Champions at the National Indoor Tournament with Sheila Schooner
2012 Men’s Open Doubles Champion with Randy Bither beating Enrique Ruiz and Don Paschal in the final. (This was only a few months after they had just won the open division at Nationals.)
2013  and  2015 Men’s Open Doubles Champion in Bend playing with Wes Gabrielsen
Numerous senior titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles in Oregon, Washington and Idaho

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World’s First Composite paddle and 3 generations of Paranto pickleball enthusiasts!

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Summit Graphite Paddle

What paddle do you play with and why?

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Magnum Graphite Stealth Paddle

I’ve been playing with Onix paddles for tree years now. My favorite paddle is one I actually designed for Onix, the Summit. It has great reach, control and a fair amount of power. There are so many great paddle choices today with so many quality companies getting involved in the sport. I’ll always have a soft spot for Pro-Lite because my dad started that company back in ‘84. It was the first composite paddle, and really all of today’s paddles are basically a copy of the Pro-Lite composite paddle. I actually designed the Magnum Series paddle back in the mid-eighties. The Magnum Graphite Stealth Burst is still being used by Wes Gabrielsen today.  

What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

I was first introduced my freshman year at Green River Community College (GRCC) back in the fall of 1974. It was a popular intramural sport at the college and also taught as a physical education class. All of the tennis players from GRCC loved playing the game. I played in every tournament the college offered. I still have pickleball trophies from as far back as 1974! I have also helped teach the PE pickleball classes at GRCC, so I’ve now been involved in playing and teaching Pickleball for nearly 43 years!

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

Since we have so much rain most of the year in the Northwest, most of my tournament and recreational play has been indoors. I love both, but I am probably a better indoor player than I am an outdoor player.

Looks like these folks had fun playing at Sheila's today

Looks like these folks had fun playing at Sheila’s today

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

When I first started playing pickleball there was actually more of an emphasis on singles play than doubles. At that time I was also a tennis player, so singles was a very easy adjustment. I’ve had success in both, but I have to say as a senior player I would rather play doubles. The beauty of doubles is that you can play for hours and not get tired. Also, doubles in a lot more social and you meet more players.  

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Friends at Sheila’s barn: Steve, Sheila, Bonnie, Sarah and Randy

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Well, my backyard has a court and during the summer I love having many friends over for pickleball. During the winter I love playing at Sheila Schoonover’s indoor court. Many of us from the Portland, Oregon area play quite a bit at Sheila’s house. June Crabb recently passed away, but she also had a wonderful indoor court at her house and some of my fondest pickleball memories are from playing there.  

What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

Nothing really special, but my partner Randy and I like to drill a lot before a tournament. We also found out that we can’t drink coffee the morning of a tournament. It just makes us too jittery and makes it hard to dink.  

What’s your day job?

I am a retired Physical Education Teacher. I taught P.E. for 30 years to elementary-age kids. Pickleball was part of that curriculum!steve-paranto-action

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?

I play about 3 days a week for about 3 hours at each session. I also teach pickleball a couple more days a week.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I am now a senior player, so I make sure I pee before each match. Funny but true! 

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?

Certifying Tyson McGuffin

Certifying Tyson McGuffin

My goal is to stay competitive at the senior level and keep up with the new trends in the sport. I am an International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (IPTPA) Certified Instructor, so I also want to keep improving my teaching methods.