Rick Marion is truly a spin master. He puts a wicked spin on the ball when playing pickleball, as he spins across the court in his wheelchair with surprising speed. After using a standard wheelchair to play pickleball and tumbling out forward, backwards and sideways, Rick now uses a special basketball wheelchair with an extra wide base for stability.
Thirteen years ago, Rick fell from a ladder at work. The impact fractured his spine and left him with a head injury. He spent months at a rehab center and had titanium rods in his back for a year. The result was a diagnosis of “incomplete paraplegic”. Rick has only partial use of his legs. He can stand up, but can’t walk without assistance.
For the first ten years after the accident, he felt sorry for himself, drank a lot of beer and smoked a lot of cigarettes. Rick had a breakthrough when he realized he had much to live for. There were others far worse off than him and his daughter was pregnant with his first grandchild. Rick quit drinking and smoking and found his way to the Bill Heddles Recreation Center in his home town of Delta, Colorado. Since then, he’s made a dramatic life change. Rick is now an inspiration to people in his community. To Rick, Pickleball is a sport, not a game. He is one serious pickleball player. Rick competes in tournaments and was entered in men’s doubles and mixed doubles at the recent Western Colorado Senior Games.
Rick is the only wheelchair pickleball player in his local area. Because he’s passionate about introducing pickleball to other people in wheelchairs, Rick has teamed up with a local USAPA Ambassador, Ken Marquet to get the word out that pickleball is for everyone. Together they have reached out to Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado, a world renowned rehabilitation hospital that specializes in helping people with spinal cord injuries. Craig Hospital has a Therapeutic Recreation program and Rick is an “ambassador” for including pickleball in their program. – Anna