Many of us grew up hearing, “Sports build character.” However, studies have concluded the opposite is true. Winning satisfies like a good steak. Character satisfies like Don Paschal’s kale salad. Like my dear friend Vegen says: “Sport doesn’t build character; it reveals character.”
I learn more about a person in one hour on the court than in enjoying a dozen meals together. I also learn about myself.
Why does winning still matter to me at 55-years-old? What longing is fulfilled through another medal or through winning a game at any level? Does 5.0 status make me a better person? I certainly hope not. Some days I wish I was back at 4.5 level competing for golds with my good friend Ken Crocker.
I am still discovering that a good reputation is more valuable than a drawer full of medals. Don Paschal’s kale salad does satisfy. Consider three tips for gaining pickleball perspective on court.
Concentrate on making good shots and a good game will follow (Credit: Chad Ryan)
1. Compete by making great shots. After all, that is all I control. Be satisfied by playing well and losing. Congratulate opponents when they make better shots. Losing implies I had the opportunity to be on the court with better players.
2. Be the most complementary of partners. Pickleball is a social activity which begs for laughter and smiles. Fun banter and big smiles compensate for many poor shots.
We can all stand to be gracious in both victory and defeat (Credit: Chad Ryan)
3. I love to be around people who can pursue a goal with great intensity and discipline but are content regardless of the outcome. Perhaps there are moments where I can be that person on a pickleball court.
In life as in sports, I have benefited more from my losses than my wins. I think I will make a kale salad for lunch.
At 67-years-old, Dave Pike heard The Great Loop calling to him. The route winds along several waterways in the eastern U.S., meandering through Dave’s starting point on Lake Michigan to the Illinois River, Gulf Coast, Chesapeake Bay and beyond, until it reaches home again. His goal was to have the adventure of a lifetime while stopping in every state he crossed to play pickleball—because who could go a year without pickleball!?
Most travelers navigate the waters on yachts, trawlers or sailboats. Dave is traversing them in a 17′ dinghy.
But never fear—Dave is far from a beginner boater, and he even has his own Wilson along for the ride. We wanted to get all the details on this amazing trip, so we followed up with the navigator to learn about his reasons, inspirations and hopes for the future.
Dave with Wilson (created by his Arizona pickleball family) and a copy of Huck Finn
Our Trip Down the River
You don’t hear a story like Dave’s every day, and many people are curious as to why someone would tackle such a long trip on their own. To better understand Dave’s decision, it’s helpful to get a sense of what led up to The Loop.
As many good things do, it started with a friend.
When he was younger, Dave enjoyed canoeing and lived in a community that included a man named Verlen Kruger. Their relationship would stoke a lasting wanderlust and determination that Dave holds in his heart to this day.
“Because of Verlen, I did a lot of backcountry canoeing. He started canoeing in his early forties and holds many Guinness records, paddling over 100,000 miles before his death in 2004.
“Verlen used to give slideshows of his many trips. He was very soft spoken, and I admired someone that could do what he did (at some personal cost). I read all of his books and [was amazed by his] ability to start something so late in life and become one of the most respected paddlers to ever live.
“It was during one of his shows that I started asking for advice on canoes, and he invited me to his home to see where he built them. He lived very simply. He always offered me advice and encouragement. Before I started this trip, I stopped by his memorial to pay my respects and thanks.”
It would be some time before Dave embarked on his current adventure after his time with Verlen. During that interim period he would have another meaningful boating trip that would strengthen his abilities and hone his desire to make a longer journey.
Going On a Spirit Quest
“In 2000, still working and living in Michigan, [my wife] Ann and I (and four others from MI) chartered a 65 foot trawler and spent a week in the Juneau/Sitka area. It was the ultimate cruise for us and very personalized as there were only 6 passengers and 3 crew members. During that trip we said to ourselves, ‘We can do this!’
“Ann loves the ocean and I love the mountains. So when we retired in 2003 and sold our MI home, we purchased a trawler, named it SpiritQuest and moved to WA. We took power squadron classes and learned how to manage a big boat. Then 2007 came and we did it. We spent a summer in Alaska with just the two us that we will never, ever forget.”
An example of a 42′ Krogen Trawler like Dave owned
In 2002 Dave got news that would throw a wrench in his happy lifestyle. During a routine checkup with his doctor, he was told he had colon cancer. His colon was resectioned at a local hospital, and due to an early retirement program that his employer offered, he was able to refocus his life at 55.
“After cancer, you realize that you are mortal and if you want to do something, you better do it. Don’t wait. So, with Ann’s blessing and support, I started to plan this big trip about two years ago. Last summer, I purchased the boat and that made it more than just a romantic idea. I was really going to try this.
“On a real personal note, I hope that my children and grandchildren will have a diary of sorts with a window into who I am/was when I am no longer around. That’s my secret; it’s about them, not me.”
Looper or Loopy?
“Fine!” You might think. “Go on your big adventure and live your dreams. But of all the boats in the world, why a dinghy?”
This, along with the revelation of his companion’s name, has been answered in Dave’s blog:
“Journeyis now officially the name of my boat and partner in crime. She represents the essence of this collaboration. After all, this will really be the ‘journey’ of a lifetime for me. There will be plenty of mistakes, surprises, and ‘would of, could of, should of’ comments along the way.
Meet Journey, outfitted with custom canvas!
“Having a big boat is not without stressors… I thought for this trip I would simplify things as much as possible. The smaller the better. The fewer things to go wrong! I wanted a boat that would allow me to spend the night on it (only when and if needed). I wanted something very economical to run at a reasonable speed…
“To me, the best fit was a Walker Bay RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat). Ask me in a year if this was the right decision. I’m sure I will have a much better understanding of my choice and whether or not it was a good one.”
Picking Up Pickleball
With Dave’s travel plans solidified, when does pickleball come into the picture? The answer: as much as possible.
Dave and Ann sold their trawler after the Alaska trip and bought a motor coach to search for a winter home. While they loved the locale here in WA, the winters had started to get to them. With a far-reaching family, Ann’s son was in Colorado and her daughter in CA. While “shopping around” they looked at California, Utah and finally Arizona where they decided to stay at Palm Creek in Casa Grande.
“That was my first exposure to pickleball. Then we started playing in Port Ludlow and teaching others to play. It exploded there and they had 4 new dedicated courts by the time we left. We did decide AZ was the best fit for us, and we settled at Festival Ranch (home of the past nationals), and more importantly, home of Dee Davidson.
Dave Pike Pickleball Day Proclamation!
“At the same time, we also moved back to MI to be close to my two children, one of whom has now moved to Florida. My favorite thing about the sport is the social side and lack of formality (compared to a very structured tennis program). I love to play skill levels both below and above me: Helping others learn basic strategies and then learning from those with far greater skill sets.
“(Note to realtors: Ann and I purchased two homes in as many years and one of the basic requirements was an active pickleball program nearby!)”
Dave has already enjoyed several stops for pickleball during his travels, one of the more recent being Cape Girardeau, MO where he was whisked away to a number of sports facilities while the mayor proclaimed it to be Dave Pike Pickleball Day!
To close out our brief summary of Dave’s adventure, we wanted to ask one more question a little closer to home: What about Ann? She sounds like just as much of a wanderer as Dave, so why didn’t she join him on the trip? Was she planning any of her own solo journeys while he was away?
“Ann is a wonderful independent woman who does not need a man to be fulfilled. Last year, she went on a week-long archaeological dig in Crow Canyon, CO. This year, she’s going on a week-long expedition on the river going through the Grand Canyon. We stay in touch multiple times a day.
Journey moored near the Mississippi
“Her first reaction [to the Loop] was, frankly—Great idea, let’s go! Then I told her that I wanted to do it in a very small boat. She said, ‘Have a good time!’
“We refer to my trip as a scouting trip for a future excursion together. (Just kidding!)”
As it happens, today is Ann and Dave’s 26th anniversary and they’re getting together at the Grand Rivers Lighthouse Landing to celebrate for several days. Ann’s birthday is coming up on the 29th as well.
What an exciting expedition and kind person. Thank you, Dave, for finding the time amid your travels to satisfy our curiosity! We wish you all the best and look forward to hearing about your journey on Journey.
For our readers looking to learn more about Dave and follow along as he updates us on his progress, please check out his blog Six Thousand Miles Alone in a Dingy and leave a comment wishing him well.
You’re not likely to get knocked down by a pickleball, but it doesn’t feel good to get hit! (Image credit: Chad Ryan)
Pickleball: A Contact Sport?
By: Glen Peterson
David McCallum from Pickleball Inc. and I were having lunch at Ray’s Boathouse in Seattle the other day when he mentioned that, shortly after Pickleball was invented, the kitchen line was moved back six inches to prevent Dick Brown, an outstanding football player who was 6′ 4″ tall, from being able to volley nearly every ball from the kitchen line. With his long arms, Dick could nearly touch the net with his paddle!
That seemingly arbitrary decision to depart from badminton court lines and move opposing players another foot apart (from 13 to 14 feet) implies to me that the early framers of this sport understood the subtleties of how pickleball play would evolve.
Some of us prefer sports that don’t favor taller athletes. I am convinced this is one reason baseball has remained so popular. Smaller hitters have smaller strike zones.
My friend Scott Lennan once commented that very tall players who can volley every ball from the kitchen line will someday dominate pickleball. Unfortunately, I agree. But with one caveat: because they are also larger targets, they had better be cat-like quick!
More and more, pickleball is becoming a contact sport. Hitting an opponent is a winning shot … and often brings a psychological advantage. Taller, larger opponents make bigger targets. In 5.0 tournament play, the notion that hitting an opponent with a ball is unprofessional is gone.
While most of us still apologize for hitting an opponent with a hard shot toward at the body, this happens often. I would never aim for a person’s head, but I confess that in highly competitive tournament play I would place a shot directly at a the body. Are you offended or angry? Please understand that I am referring to 5.0 tournament play. Tim Nelson popped me with a hard shot in the neck a few days ago; it stung a bit; it was a great shot.
Ken Crocker and I experimented by playing a half court game one-on-one at the kitchen line and rewarding two points every time one of us hit the other player. We discovered it was too easy to hit the opponent. Of course I don’t dodge so well now as when I was in my teens!
Pickleball may become more and more like fencing or dodge ball where hitting opponents with the ball is far more common and a vital tactic in high level play. In many high level games today, several points are won or lost either because a person was hit or because they had to hit an otherwise out ball that would have hit them. Personally I love it. It favors smaller players. And it adds an element of fun just like hitting around the post.
How to avoid being hit? First, at most levels of play, you can simply ask aggressive players not to target your body. Second, bend your knees at the kitchen line to become a smaller target and be prepared to duck. And third, when you see your opponent wind up, play dodge ball!
Don’t be afraid of getting hit. It may sting for a moment. Congratulate your opponent on a well placed shot. And then get them back! Incidentally, this is an example of where the softer Onix Pure I Outdoor ball will be preferred because it hurts less.
This is a sensitive topic for some who feel hitting an opponent is unsportsmanlike. If you strongly disagree – or agree – please comment!
Pickleball is a social sport by nature, and since many players’ favorite type of game is doubles, more people equals more fun. But what can you do if there aren’t many picklers in your area, or if pickleball itself is relatively unknown?
We recommend starting your own pickleball club. This can seem daunting at first, but the truth is it can be as simple as contacting a nearby rec center or finding an old tennis court. You’ll end up with more people to play with, and a whole new group of pickleball fanatics will be born. It’s win-win!
Pickleball is highly addictive, and if you can get even a few people on the courts, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll get return visitors bringing their friends. Let’s walk through how you can go about setting up your own pickleball paradise.
Find a Place to Play Pickleball
The first step is finding a suitable place to play. Choosing a centralized location in your city is always a plus, as it will make your club more accessible to visitors. If you know of a nearby rec center, park or other public facility where there are already tennis courts then that’s a plus, as you can fit 4 pickleball courts within 1 tennis court. There are detailed instructions on how to utilize a tennis court for pickleball here. Doubles badminton courts are the same size as those used in pickleball as well.
Our court is in the warehouse, but the net gets moved around depending on how many boxes are present…
If you can find a location with pre-established courts, you’ll need to ask the owner or coordinator of the facility if it would be possible to allow a time for pickleball drop-ins to play, and if it’s okay to use court tape or temporary markers on the ground to establish boundary lines. Another useful tool is a net adjuster so you can lower tennis or badminton nets to the appropriate height of 34”.
Of course, the most accessible place to play is the court you build yourself! If you have the space, you can always install your own court using our Wilson posts or set things up on the go using a portable net system. We also know about plenty of communities that have lobbied to get public pickleball courts installed with great success.
Choose the Right Equipment
Once you have a court, the next step is to ensure your members have equipment. It’s great if people can bring their own paddles and balls, however if you’re starting from scratch, there’s a possibility most of your members will be newbies. It doesn’t hurt to have extras on hand for anyone curious about the game either, since most people end up investing in better paddles down the line.
The most affordable type of paddles are wood, so it’s possible to buy several without breaking the bank. However, if you want potential members to get a real sense of what a “good” pickleball paddle plays like, buying a couple low cost composite paddles (which will be cheaper if they’re gently used) will be your best bet.
Find Members for Your Pickleball Club
So how do you go about finding members? A good place to start is to look at nearby USAPA members and other clubs in your area by going to USAPA.org. Not only will they be able to offer advice on getting up your club set up, but some members might find it convenient to visit your location.
You can also build interest by advertising at recreation centers, senior communities, talking with friends and otherwise sharing it along the grapevine. Word tends to spread naturally once you find a few people to start, as members get their friends and family involved. Offering free lessons is the best way to get newcomers to the courts, otherwise they may feel out of their depth. You don’t have to be a professional to share your love and general knowledge of the game.
A pickleball coach sharing the game from Pickleball Canada
The USAPA provides a lot of materials that you can use to supply players with information. At PickleballCentral we include Coach Mo’s Strategy Guide in most of the packages we send out, so that’s another good tool to have in your arsenal. These sort of “take home” packages are a plus, but we find that simply getting people onto the court is the quickest way to rack up interest.
Another tried-and-true way to get attention and make sure everyone in your area knows about pickleball is to contact the local media. Even if only a few members are in attendance, news outlets are eager to feature new initiatives, and the increase in exposure can really help your club thrive.
Keep People in the Loop
A simple way to maintain ongoing engagement is to create a website so people can view your schedule. This makes it easier to get information to members and beginners alike. Setting up a website is quite simple these days. You can sign up for free at WordPress to get access to the same user-friendly platform we use to share our blog. You should also get yourself listed on the USAPA’s Communities and Clubs list and their Places to Play section—it’s free!
Enjoy the Best Savings
Lastly, be sure to sign up with our Club Rewards program. There’s no fee to get started, and you and your club members will receive a special code to get 5% off every order at PickleballCentral. Another 5% of your order total will go into a savings account which will accrue funds based on all your members’ purchases throughout the year. At the start of the New Year, we’ll send you a gift certificate code for the money you saved to be spent on new supplies and gear.
A look at the extensive U.S. Open courts
The USAPA says that in 2015 an average of nearly 20 new locations to play pickleball are being established weekly: That’s over 1,040 courts a year! With the sport experiencing such massive growth you can bet that starting your own club will allow you to get the most out of the pickleball movement.
A bunch of pickleball players traveled together with USAPA Ambassador Tom Widden, Lake Oswego, Oregon, aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s “Pearl to the Caribbean”, which featured the Moody Blues Rock ‘n’ Roll Adventure to Key West and Beyond.
Tom brought along variety of pickleball paddles from PickleballCentral to share with fellow “Moodies”, including John Lodge, founder of Moody Blues, seen here with yours truly, District Ambassador Tom Widden plus the concert promoter. All new players caught on to the game of pickleball in just a few minutes..
Everyone raved about the Onix Pure balls being more durable and easy to play with. Not one broke during the cruise.
After a morning of pickleball we settled into great concerts til late at night. We are taking in electric light orchestra here..
Moody Blues perform on the cruise ship concert stage in the evenings.
This historic voyage demonstrated that cruise ship sport courts are ideal for the pickleball player demographic and should be promoted as a natural combination to attract seniors who love cruises and love playing pickleball! More cruises featuring pickleball are being planned soon.
USAPA District Ambassador Tom Widden on the Moody Blues Cruise
Women’s Doubles at Apex Center in Arvada Colorado Photo Credit: CBSDENVER
It takes a village to raise funds for a worthy cause, right? In Arvada, Colorado, you start with Ken Marquardt, USAPA Pickleball Ambassador, a man who usually doesn’t take “no” for an answer. Then add 250 pickleball fans and a few folks at Apex Parks and Rec. who all have a heart for our wounded veterans, and what do you get? A successful tournament that raises funds for the Traumatic Brain Injury Freedom program! What a great story!
Eagle donated by Sharon and Ken Marquardt at the Outdoor Courts at Apex Center
Ken got together with Mike Miles, Executive Director of the Apex Center in Arvada, Colorado to toss around the idea of having a tournament fundraiser to support wounded veterans. They looked around for an organization to support and decided on the Rocky Mountain Human Services Operation TBI Freedom, because 100% of the funds go to support veterans. Other organizations take 30-60% for administrative costs. Once the recipient was selected, a number of meetings took place with some local tournament experts, and voila, there was a tournament planned and 250 participants signed up.
They spread the word about the tournament: “Our community stands behind all the veterans for their service and sacrifice. They put their lives on the line every day for our nation, and to honor and recognize that dedication, there’s a unique opportunity coming up for you to personally help a Colorado vet. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to Operation TBI Freedom, a privately funded program of Rocky Mountain Human Services, assisting veterans and active duty military personnel with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) that occurred on or after September 11, 2001.”
The Pickleball for Heroes tournament began with a 30-minute opening ceremony, open to the public. A bagpiper entered the pavilion playing “Amazing Grace”. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. The Marine Corps Honor Guard presented the flag, and Debi Blair, who sang with Bob Hope years ago, sang the national anthem.
Marine Honor Guard at the Pickleball for Heroes Tournament
The games began and everyone had a great time! They had a range of players from 3.0-5.0. This “village”raised $43,861.00 for Operation Traumatic Brain Injury Freedom, a tremendous cause.
TBI Check Presentation
Congratulations, Ken Marquardt and the Arvada Pickleballers! You definitely have a “Heart” for your community!
We love when we get stories from our readers about community events, pickleball get-togethers and especially themed tournaments! Rick Varley, a reader out of Dowell, Maryland recently sent us this message and it was too good not to share. Enjoy!
Batman & Superman defeated by Captain America & Super Shopper
We have a private community in Dowell, Maryland called Oyster Bay. We converted 3 unused tennis courts into 4 pickleball courts. We have 3 holiday tournaments throughout the year to give our members some tournament experience. Our last event around Halloween was given the theme ‘Super Hero’ and everyone was to dress in their favorite tee-shirt or attire. Prizes were donated and they are always humorous. The winners of this tournament were presented with ‘Pickle Bandages‘ and a can of ‘Pickle Mints‘. Many times it is just a jar of pickles! It was a fun day and a great format that took about a hour and 30 minutes to complete.
How the tournament works:
On pieces of paper, write four “1”s, four “2”s, four “3”s and four “4”s. Each number corresponds to a court (Court 1, Court 2, Court 3 and Court 4).
Each player blindly draws a number and goes to that court.
Everyone plays one game to 11 with each person at that court (for a total of three matches at that court). You do not win by 2; whoever reaches 11 points first, wins.
At the end of each game, you tell the scorekeeper how many points you scored individually, as well as whether it was a win or a loss. A win is 1 point, a loss is 0 points.
For example, Anna is playing at Court 3. She wins every game, resulting in 11 points every game for a total of 33 points. The also receives 3 “Win” points for a total of 36 points.
11 points x 3 games = 33 points.
1 Win Point x 3 Wins = 3 points.
33 points + 3 points = 36 points total.
Once everyone is done playing at their court, tally up the points and determine the top 4 players.
These players play in the Championship Match to 15 points.
Looks like a fun group of people and a great way to get everyone excited about the game!
Andy McLaren, 66, of Brighton Heights plays pickleball against Barb Adams, 72, of Ross, at the Ross Community Center
Every time we hear about a group that loves to play with a purpose, like raising money for a local food bank, we try to find out the back story. So when Pam Block emailed PickleballCentral for some support for their tournament last month, we contacted her and got the Pickleball North story. Enjoy reading about our newest All Heart Pickleball Award Winner!
The Pickleball North Pickleball Club in Pittsburgh, PA, has 140 people on their email list. They started with about 5 players in February, 2012. The group started playing in a local church and were given lessons by a teaching tennis pro. The oldest member, Ralph Young played all the time, even the week before he died. He was 86 years old. Pam Block is a former tennis player. She was invited to play the first time in April of that same year. Most members are retired, except her son, who plays when he visits from Washington, DC. Pam’s motto is: “When it stops being fun, I’m done!”
Pam is a pickleball scheduler for the club. She emails a weekly play schedule out to the membership. They play at a community center and 2 – 3 churches. They are growing pickleball and helping the community. That’s what sets their club apart. They are a welcoming and caring group. The fourth bi-annual tournament was held this year on October 28th. It was a fun day with lots of fun competition. This last tournament was sponsored by PickleballCentral and Gamma Sports. Thrivent Financial also gave them a grant of $250 that was used to buy lunch for participants and for the purchase of the tournament balls. Pam once received a jar of pickles as a grand prize, so that has become a Pickleball North tradition. They could have bought better prizes, but people preferred the money go to the Food Bank.
Pickleball North Pickleball Club
The Pickleball North Pickleball Club usually has two tournaments a year and the proceeds go to the North Hills Food Bank. They started in Spring of 2014. They have had 4 tournaments so far, and have collected $2,500 for the North Hills Food Bank. The North Hills Food Bank serves over 200 people a month and has been doing it for over 25 years. Most of the clients of the Food Bank live in Ross Township or in the town of Westview. Fees collected at the tournament go to the food bank. They play at the Ross Township Community Center. It is the biggest location and they are gracious and accommodating. They asked to use the facility for their tournament and the community center waived the use fee, so everything collected during the tournament goes to the food bank.
The Pickleball North Pickleball Club grows by word of mouth, by invitation and through advertising. The Pittsburg Tribune Review has run a couple of articles about pickleball in Pittsburgh:
PICKLEBALLCENTRAL “ALL HEART” AWARD: CASCADE PICKLEBALL CLUB, VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON
I was looking at the USAPA.org website, Places to Play and came across this listing:
The Cascade library runs open gym pickleball on Sunday nights as a fundraiser for our library. Players of all levels are welcome! We start at 6 PM and end by 9PM. The cost is $3. Check the calendar below to verify we are playing on the night you want. We are occasionally closed for holidays. We have recently added an advanced night (4.0 and higher) on Mondays. For questions, text 360-936-9666. The school is located at 13900 NE 18th St, Vancouver, WA 98684. When you are facing the school (north), the gym is around the back on the left (west). Walk around past the recycling area and you will see the entrance for the gym. Come join us!
I had to find out more about their story. So I got in touch with Michelle. It’s definitely a story worthy of the PickleballCentral “All Heart” Award! Enjoy!
Two years ago, Michelle and her husband Travis started playing pickleball. They played at a local gym, but when the gym doubled the price of admission, they started looking around for an alternative place to play. It just so happened that the principal at her school started playing pickleball, and was open to folks using the middle school gym on Sundays. There were lots of folks who wanted to play, so Cascade Pickleball got organized.
Daniel Moore visits Columbia River Pickleball Club
They are sponsored by the school parent network, for insurance purposes, and when Michelle can’t be there, she has back-up school staff to make sure the gym is open and secure for pickleball. Michelle is actively trying to recruit more teachers to sign up to play pickleball. They recently added an advanced night, 4.0 and higher on Mondays.
They keep a calendar on the school library website for 3 different levels of play and they charge $3 a session. All the fees collected go to purchasing books for the middle school library. They have been playing together for almost a year and have raised $3.000 so far. That’s a lot of pickleball. When the principal bought Ipads for the school, Cascade Pickleball Club bought the cases for the Ipads.
September 2014 Book Purchases
It is the easiest fund raiser ever because everyone would be playing anyway, and it is so much fun.
The Cascade Pickleball Club is having their first tournament the last weekend in January. You can sign up on pickleballtournaments.com! This club rocks!