Tournament Tips: Arizona’s Sun City Festival Pickleball Club on Brackets and Delegation

For Ann Purvis, pickleball is a community affair. Seven years ago, her husband bought her a paddle and they embarked on their pickleball journey together. The two of them began taking lessons together. As they honed their skills, Ann and her husband began teaching the rest of their family the joys of the sport. Now, Ann enjoys playing with her children and grandchildren when they all get together.

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Ann Purvis at an archaeological dig in Mesa Verde.

 

Ann became fully immersed in Buckeye, Arizona’s Sun City Festival Pickleball Club. Four years after she first picked up a paddle, Ann found herself with a unique opportunity. The President of the Club needed volunteers to learn how to put on a tournament. Six members volunteered. One of them was Ann. With three years of experience under her belt, she was kind enough to share some advice with PickleballCentral.

What is the name of your tournament?

The Sun City Festival In House Pickleball Tournament.

Was there a club hosting the tournament? Name of the club?

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The Sun City Festival Pickleball Club. Our club currently has a little over 500 members.

When was your tournament?

It was this past year. March 20 through 23, with a scheduled rain day on March 24.

Where was your tournament?

Sun City Festival Pickleball Courts located in Buckeye, Arizona.

How many players registered for the tournament?

We had 162 registrants.

How many courts were available for the tournament? Indoor court or outdoor courts?

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Eight outdoor courts. Hence the need for a rain day!

What events/brackets did you offer? 

Since we are a retirement community, we broke the brackets into skill levels. We wanted new members to have the tournament experience and created round robin brackets just for them. They were able to have a tournament experience while playing with people they play with every day.

Did you have a team working with you? What were their delegated tasks/roles?

Absolutely! The more people who are involved, the better the tournament and the learning experience. We had lots of committees so people did not have to spend their entire lives on the tournament. Committees were:

Set Up and Clean Up
Vendors
Volunteers
Photography
Referees
Food/Snacks/Hydration
Raffle
First Aid/Safety
Registration
We also did a lot of cross-training and mentoring.

Did you seek sponsors for your tournament? Who were the sponsors? What did the sponsor contribute?

We did have sponsors. Most of them run small businesses in the community and people who participated in the tournament knew them. We charged $25 and a banner. We displayed the banners prominently.

We also had vendors who set up tables and sold their wares. Some of these were from the community and some were national. We offered them a choice of days since there was another tournament going on at the same time. Most came for two days.  The fee was $25. We provided the tables.

Did you offer refreshments? Or sell food/drink at the event?

We did have a Food/Snacks/Hydration table where we offered players and volunteers oranges, bananas, cookies, pretzels, water and Gatorade. That was to support the players. We also had a food vendor who sold breakfast, lunch and drinks at the event.

Did you charge a registration fee? How much?

This was an in-house tournament fee of $20.

Anything special or unique about your tournament?

Our club hosted the USAPA Nationals for the first six years the tournament was held. It is important to know that this tournament was started in order to teach our members how to put on a tournament and how to participate in a real tournament.

What are your top tips for people putting on a tournament like yours?

Choose your team carefully. Everyone on the team must be a self-starter and must be willing to take on other jobs to make sure the tournament works. The goal is to have the players enjoy their play and to make sure only the team knows when things go wrong.

Having mentors on the team was very helpful. They knew several tournament jobs and were able to help others learn and fill in when there was a problem. Also, having people on the team and in the community who knew how to operate pickleballtournaments.com was a great help.

Develop a checklist and a budget for your tournament.

Most importantly, having a supportive community and club are keys to success.

Richard Dudek Introduces Pickleball to Western Massachusetts

We love to share a good story with you. Here is one, compliments of Richard Dudek, a pickleball mover and shaker in Agawam Massachusetts. First, you must know this: Agawam Massachusetts has the distinction of the lowest zip code in the US: 01001!  If you google Agawam Mass Pickleball, you will find the local news article featuring the grand opening of this lovely court.

Richard Dudek Agawam Mass

Richard Dudek, 3rd from the left, Mayor Richard Cohen, center right, Parks and Recreation Director Christopher Sparks left center, and other community members celebrating the completion of a new dedicated pickleball court at Borgatti Field on Sept. 27. The Reminder Publications photo by Chris Goudreau

Richard Dudek is in love with the game of pickleball. He loves to teach people the fine art of the game. He played for 15 years in Florida and decided to find out how to get the game started in his home town. It took 3 years and a lot of work in the public sector and fundraising to the tune of $50,000 to get the Agawam outdoor court built.

Richard’s determination involved obtaining the thumbs-up from the local senior center, from Agawam Mayor Richard Cohen, the Parks and Rec, the Community Preservation Board, the City Council and the local court construction company. He loves how all his specifications were seriously considered: good dividers, 13 foot backdrops, 10-foot clearance area and a dividing wall. People thank Richard every day for his hard work in getting the first dedicated court built in the area.

There is nothing like it in a 40-mile radius from Agawam,” says Richard. The new Borgatti Field court is the “first true outdoor pickleball court in Western Massachusetts.” He has the go ahead to put in 2 more courts now and has the financial backing to do it. Way to go, Richard!

Folks in other nearby towns are frustrated that they have caught the pickleball “bug” but can only find dilapidated tennis courts for pickleball. Here’s hoping they find the same determination that Agawam has in Richard Dudek!

Tournament Tips: State Games of Mississippi on the Importance of Volunteerism

“I believe that volunteerism is an important contributor to the quality of life in all of  our communities and believe that we should all pitch in as we are able.”

Those are the words of Ron Eaton, tournament director for the State Games of Mississippi. Being a former racquetball, cyclist, and tennis player, Ron picked up his first pickleball paddle 20 months ago. The physicality and mental challenges of pickleball is what initially hooked Ron. However, it was the great social circle that got him to stay.

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Ron Eaton (L) with Men’s Doubles Partner, Jason David (R)

When USAPA Ambassadors in his area, Tom and Deonne Linenberger, approached Ron about taking the lead of the tournament, he couldn’t turn them down. After all, they worked tirelessly to build pickleball in his community. Ron noted, they took the pickleball community from “a very small base of people into robust program that has improved the quality of life for many people.” So when the Linenbergers asked for a helping hand, Ron Eaton was more than happy to step up. 

What is the name of your tournament?

State Games of Mississippi. We are 1 of 35 members of the National Congress of State Games.

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Mississippi State Games Medalist showing off his award.

Was there a club hosting the tournament? Name of the club?

We are the Mississippi Gulf Coast Pickleball.

When was your tournament? 

May 5 & 6, 2017.

Where was your tournament? 

A. J. Holloway Sports Complex in Biloxi, Mississippi

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Sportsmanship brings the community together.

How many players registered for the tournament?

97 players registered.

How many courts were available for the tournament? Indoor court or outdoor courts?

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We used up to 8 outdoor courts, as needed.

What events/brackets did you offer?  

Round Robin format, USAPA rules, unrated players/brackets.

We offered juniors 17 and under, 18+

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One of the main reasons Ron joined the tournament was its inclusion of all ages

35+, 50+, 55+, 60+, 65+,  70+,  75+

We also had Men and Women’s open doubles for advanced players.

Did you have a team working with you?  What were their delegated tasks/roles? 

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Ron handing out medals to gold winners in Men’s Doubles 75+, George Hults (C) and Whitner Church (R)

Yes, the tournament committee consisted of 5 people and myself. We had shared tasks and roles. They included:

  • Strategic planning and marketing
  • Administrative
  • Rules and tournament design
  • Volunteer sourcing

Tasks that fell under any and all of the roles above included:

  • Establishment of tournament priorities
    • In our case:
      1. Hospitality
      2. Inclusion of all ages (Really wanted to get youth involved)
      3. “Noon to noon” tournament
      4. Deliver most competitive fields possible
  • Establish marketing outreach
  • Confirm outdoor facility as well as indoor rain venue
  • Ensure tournament medical response protocol is established
  • Figure out registration and fee collection processes
  • Partner matching
  • Handle all pre-tournament inquiries

We also had volunteers who performed half-day assignments. Their duties included tasks such as:

  • Court set up
  • Reception center
  • Registration packet delivery
  • Running the tournament desk, including real-time bracket posting
  • Award confirmations
  • Award presentations
  • Tournament announcements
  • Runners to assist players to correct courts
  • Runners to bring back score cards to tournament desks
  • Score keeping and refereeing
  • Hydration planning- bottled water and PowerAde in several locations

Did you seek sponsors for your tournament? Who were the sponsors? What did the sponsor contribute?

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State Games of Mississippi

Yes.  PickleballCentral  was very supportive in providing tournament balls, registration bags, and banners.  McAlister’s Deli graciously provided the box lunches.

Was the tournament a fund-raising event? For what charity or cause? How much did you raise?

The State Games of Mississippi is a privately-sponsored, non-profit organization that promotes amateur athletics and healthy lifestyles for residents of all ages and abilities.  Pickleball was added as a new game to the SGM venue of 38 sponsored sports on its 25th Anniversary.

Playing pickleball at the MS State Games

Did you offer refreshments?

Yes.  Bottled Water, PowerAde, bananas, apples, Nature Valley Power Bar Products, and 1 McAlister’s Box lunch for registrants and volunteers.  Nothing was sold at the tournament.

Did you charge a registration fee?  How much?  

Yes. $30.  Registration packet included a T Shirt, hand towel, first serve bracelet, and several miscellaneous items.

Officers Brian Acuna (L) and Deputy Tyrus Mack (R) sporting gold medals

Officers Brian Acuna (L) and Deputy Tyrus Mack (R) sporting gold medals

Anything special or unique about your tournament?  

It was the first all age tournament of  its type in Mississippi.  It was also the first sponsored tournament hosted by Mississippi Gulf Coast Pickleball.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Pickleball

What is your top tips for people putting on a tournament like yours?  

A tournament, particularly a first tournament, is much like a first impression in that you only get one chance to make it. An event that registrants and volunteers alike enjoy, feel included, feel challenged, and look forward to the next one is a goal to strive for.

It's all about the future of pickleball.

It’s all about the future of pickleball.

Our committee, with no pickleball tournament experience until this year, attended, observed, and learned from other tournaments. We held “mini” practice tournaments that built our experience and confidence.  A committee with varied skill sets, respect for one another, attention to detail, and a willingness to “real time” manage the tournament from announcement to breakdown will be appreciated by all.

 

 

 

Toes to the Kitchen Line!

Warren Buffet advises investors to buy low and sell high, while Kenny Rogers says you need to know when to hold and when to fold. In pickleball, you must know when to hit soft and when to strike!

Most beginning picklers prefer taking balls after the bounce rather than volleying (hitting the ball in the air before it bounces). They back up rather than advancing to take balls in the air. Great pickleball players love to volley and are adept at moving forward to hit winners. So get your toes to the line and own that kitchen!

Pickleball at the highest level is always won and lost at the kitchen line. No pros have succeeded with a baseline strategy.

Hitting from the base line

Unless you’re staying back for the serve, get to the kitchen line! (Credit: Michael D. Martin)

Do you prefer to wait for a bounce rather than smacking balls in the air? First, this requires a lot more energy. Second, it exposes your feet to your opponents. Third, taking a ball after it bounces gives your opponents much more time to react. Fourth, striking a ball before it bounces allows more offensive shots that may surprise your opponents.

For many of us, volleying is not as instinctive or safe as ground strokes. The wrist action involved, especially for low balls, can be awkward and inconsistent. Try punching the ball with a firm wrist. Bend your knees if possible so your line of sight is closer to the ball and net level.

Punching a pickleball

Good “punching” technique (Credit: Ron B)

Either punch the ball back deep to force your opponents to stay back, or block the ball with almost no forward motion to drop the ball just over the net. This latter shot can be extremely effective, especially with us less mobile players! Drill with a partner and just focus on punching balls back.

Another volley method is using topspin as in table tennis. Keep your body square to the net and the paddle perpendicular to the ground while using a sweeping forehand or backhand motion from your elbow upward. Keep the stroke compact. How much wrist you use depends on your comfort level, but start with a firm wrist.

Pickleball at the net

Playing at the net (Credit: Michael D. Martin)

Tennis has evolved away from a serve and volley game to a baseline game. With some notable exception, many tennis players prefer hitting pickle balls after they bounce rather than volleying. Ping pong players never volley. In the highest level of pickleball, most winning shots are volleys, not ground strokes.

Hitting volleys requires that you get to the kitchen line and own it! Don’t back away unless lobbed. Love taking balls before they bounce. Learn to wine and dine at the kitchen line!

Whether You Want Power Or Touch, The New Onix Evoke Pro Paddle Does It All

Like many of us who’ve caught the pickleball bug, the folks at Onix are dedicated pickleball fanatics. Since 2005 they have been creating high quality paddles that incorporate several innovative designs and technologies. Designed by players, for players, Onix pickleball paddles have been instrumental in advancing the sport to higher levels.

Evoke Pro Pickleball Paddle

The Evoke Pro Pickleball Paddle

Onix launched their Evoke series of paddles a few years ago, focusing on high performance polycore paddles that were lightweight. The original Evoke paddle came in two shapes, in a tear drop and an oversize shape. With its wide body style, the new Onix Evoke Pro paddle extends and maximizes the paddle’s sweet spot. In addition, the Evoke Pro is designed with the maximum allowable surface roughness, helping players put spin on the ball, while maintaining great touch for dink shots.

We recently asked Zach Scheller of Onix to share with us what Onix had in mind when designing the Evoke Pro and what sets it apart from other paddles.

PBC: What makes the Evoke Pro different from other paddles?

Onix: The Evoke Pro takes what’s great about a variety of different paddles and styles of play, and combines all of it into one paddle. We retained the great balance and touch of the Evoke series while adding increased pop and additional spin. This way, players (especially those who change out paddles throughout a game) don’t have to choose between what style they’re going for – they get it all in a single paddle.

Our team of Onix professional players were critical in the development of this product, providing us direction and input on what is required for a true “players” paddle. In particular, Onix player ambassador Byron Freso, was instrumental in dialing in the performance of the Evoke Pro paddle.

Sara Ash

Pro player Sara Ash was a fan of the original Evoke Paddle

PBC: Is there a particular player type the Evoke Pro is designed for?

Onix: Our focus with the Evoke Pro was to make a high performance polycore paddle with a composite face that delivers the perfect balance of control and pop. Our target audience was the top-tier players who want to take their game to the next level. The surprising thing is how wide an audience the Evoke Pro appeals to; examples are players who favor the power game, as well as those who prefer to win with great touch at the net – both types are converting to the Evoke Pro.

PBC: What is unique about the Evoke Pro grip?

Onix: The original Evoke paddles had a 4.5” grip, which helps provides strength and balance to lighter paddles, but can be cumbersome for some players, especially those with smaller hands. The Evoke Pro comes with a 4.25” grip, which feels a little more natural to the majority of players and will not affect the balance or strength of the paddle.

PBC: Why might tennis players switching to pickleball prefer the Evoke Pro?

Onix: Tennis players converting to pickleball understand the power game, and to be successful, are required to learn the dink game played at the net. With the Evoke Pro, players are able to keep the power and spin they had in tennis combined with a generous sweet spot and great touch for the net game.

Jotham Darrin

Jotham Darrin and his gold medal with the Evoke Pro

PBC: Are there any pro players using the Evoke Pro?

Onix: A lot of our Onix pro team has switched over to the Evoke Pro. What is interesting is seeing players who prefer different paddles and styles, such as Dave Glendenning (who used the Z5) and Sara Ash (who used the Evoke Tear Drop) who have found common ground in the Evoke Pro. I believe Jotham Darrin holds the honor of the first to win gold with the Evoke Pro at PebbleCreek back in February.

PBC: Anything else you would like to mention about the Evoke Pro?

Onix: We’re excited to get the new Evoke Pro out to the public – there have been so many requests for these that we’re glad to finally get them in the hands of players at the court level, especially because we know how it will improve their game.

With the Evoke Pro, Onix has scored a win with a highly versatile performance paddle that builds on the successful features of its predecessor and deservedly appeals to a wide range of players. Want to learn more? See these details about the Evoke Pro paddle’s technical specs.

Tournament Tips: Surf City Pickleball on Divisions and Multiple Courts

Diana Abruscato fell in love with the sport of tennis back in the 4th grade. After breaking her leg surfing, the former USTA-sponsored and rated tennis player was never able to cover the court like she used to. Looking to scratch the competitive itch she once felt, Diana found, and inevitably fell in love with, pickleball.

Immediately becoming an USAPA Ambassador, Diana naturally evolved into the role of Tournament Director. She was kind enough to share some tips with us on how to make your pickleball tournaments enjoyable for all within the community.

Diana Abruscato with Tournament Group

Diana, the Tournament Director, front and center for festivities!

What is the name of your tournament?
Surf City Pickleball Tournament

Was there a club hosting the tournament? Name of the club?
Surf City Pickleball is an all-volunteer, fully-functioning program facilitated by Les Taylor, Catherine Navetta and myself.

When was your tournament?
The 1st Annual Surf City Pickleball Tournament was held in August of 2016. We were so excited that we began preparing in November for our 2nd Annual Surf City Pickleball Tournament scheduled for August 4-6, 2017.

We chose this time of year because the tournament calendar was open to the pickleball tournament community at the time in Southern California. We also selected this schedule because during the summer, we are the coolest place to play!

Pickleball-playing statue

Where was your tournament?
Murdy Community Park
7000 Norma Drive
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Surf City Pier
How many players registered for the tournament?
Our first year we had 276 players. It was the largest tournament in Orange, San Diego, Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, including the Central Coast of California. In May of 2017, we had 218 players signed up thus far. We are on the way to meeting or exceeding our expectations. We are going to have some fun again this year!

Paul and Sean

Paul and Sean Leaf readying for some defense

How many courts were available for the tournament? Indoor court or outdoor courts?
We have 12 lighted, wind-screened, outdoor courts with room for inside seating and shaded tree areas. Towards the end of the day, dedicate 4 courts to host medal matches. That allows for spectators to watch with plenty of room inside the court area to enjoy a front row seat. We have room for 16 courts, however, players enjoy the roomier feel.

Richelle Danielle

Richelle Kulju (L) & (R) Carrie Dye in an intense pickleball battle!

What events/brackets did you offer? 
We offer a skill-based tournament. Our committee has agreed that this offering seems to really appeal to players in all skill levels and all ages. Our skill-based tournament by design, is very workable and true to original tournaments.

We like the idea that if a player feels up to the challenge of playing in that particular division/skill level, regardless of age, they can. It provides the younger folks the opportunity to embrace the maturity of the older players, and the older players have the opportunity to challenge themselves a bit by playing in an all-age category. It’s comprehensive and inclusive to meet the wider range of players coming into the pickleball tournament community. This format is tried and a true measure of success. We offer Men’s, Mixed and Women’s. Skill levels include 3.0 – 5.0+.

Diana and Catherine

Diana strikes a pose with IT Volunteer, Catherine Navetta

Did you have a team working with you? What were their delegated tasks/roles?
The Surf City Pickleball Tournament is hosted by an impeccable bunch of hand-picked talent of an all-volunteer Tournament Planning Committee.
They are:

  • Tournament Director: Diana Abruscato
  • Co-TD & Referee Manager: Craig Haas
  • IT: Catherine Navetta and James Chretien
  • Court Preparation/MVP: Les Taylor
  • Our Friendly Registration Committee: Tami Bearardi, Dorinda Jung, Elaine Metz, and Bunny Estrera
  • Concessions: Ruth Woldhuis
  • First-Aid Station: Bryan Tice, EMT.

The most important decision when selecting a committee is to make sure that fluidity and a good flow exists among personalities within the group. At times, we all have to make tough decisions. You have to make sure we are enjoying the conversation while arriving at a tough decision. Our Tournament Planning Team has this ability, and we have mastered the art of it, which makes for loads of fun!

Did you seek sponsors for your tournament? Who were the sponsors? What did the sponsor contribute?
Tournaments must rely on sponsorships, as this can determine the measurement of success of a tournament. When pursuing a sponsorship, the most important element is to make sure the agreement is mutually beneficial. We have pickleball industry sponsors and community-based sponsors. For our tournament, our sponsors have contributed company-branded products and services for distribution at the tournament.  Durafast 40 (featured below) is the tournament ball provided by Pickleball Central.

Did you offer refreshments? Or sell food/drink at the event?
We offer complimentary healthy snack options such as  fresh fruit, closed-package snack items, Gatorade. and water all three days of the tournament. Most players do not eat full meals while playing, and are looking for healthier bites to get them through the next match without weighing themselves down with a heavier meal.

At the end of the tournament day, everyone can enjoy an entertaining meal in our beautiful and historic downtown beach vacation venue at the pier. For 2017, the US Open of Surfing will be gracing our waves at the pier for all to enjoy!

Dura pickleball in the sun

Surf’s up with Dura Fast 40!

We do encourage players to bring sandwiches or take advantage of the grocery store option, Sprouts, within walking distance from the venue.

Did you charge a registration fee? How much?
We have to charge a registration fee and the price is determined by the cost to rent the facility, court rentals, required insurances, pickleballtournaments.com fees, transaction fees, truck rentals, food costs, t-shirt costs, and much more.

To encourage your city to invest in pickleball, renting a city facility is very costly. However, our committee prides ourselves on keeping the registration costs down. We know folks are traveling far and wide to join our fun-filled tournament. We want our folks to enjoy the rest of their stay here in Huntington Beach, California. We charge $50.00 a flat fee that includes playing in 2 divisions.

Anything special or unique about your tournament?
There are so many unique qualities about the Surf City Pickleball Tournament. A tidbit is that a Huntington Beach City Council Member, Jill Hardy, will be singing our National Anthem.

Our city photographer has been running the tournament video on our local HB Website and TV channel for the last year. We hope to have it USAPA Live Streamed for 2017. We are still working on that possibility.

Other than that, our hidden treasures are kept close to our hearts, as you will have to come out and see for yourself, and experience our generous spirit! The same weekend of our pickleball tournament the, US Open of Surfing Finals will be gracing our waves at the pier for all to enjoy!  Come out and see what it is all about. Go to http://www.pickleballtournaments.com to register.

Surf City pickleball medalists

What is your top tips for people putting on a tournament like yours?
Keep your divisions at a predetermined, limited number that corresponds to the amount of courts you have.

Payment = registered
No payment = not registered

On a side note, I would just like to share something with other USAPA Sanctioned Tournament Directors and Ambassadors. The sentiment among the USAPA Pickleball Tournament Director Community it that it is a professional courtesy to hold a USAPA Sanctioned Tournament 1 month apart from each other in the same region. If you are planning to a new USAPA Sanctioned Tournament, keep the 1 month apart timing in mind, and try not to hold tournaments on the same weekend as another one in your region. Please, be courteous to your neighboring cities.

Pickler Gives Back by Putting Recyclables to Work

 

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Mona Wheeler, a charter member of the Lincoln Hills Pickleball Club, raises money for local causes by recycling bottles and cans left on the courts.

It’s difficult to pick our favorite thing about pickleball, but if we had to choose it’d be hard not to say it’s the caliber of people the sport attracts. Case in point? Mona Wheeler of Lincoln, California. A tireless retiree, Wheeler spends her free time raising money to benefit others—and the environment.

It started a few years ago when Wheeler, a member of the Lincoln Hills Pickleball Club, got a pretty great idea: gather all the cans and bottles left around the courts and start trading them in for cash. “I just saw all these used drinking containers going into the trash can and I thought, “That’s a lot of money we’re throwing away and a lot of waste going into landfills,’” said Wheeler. “There had to be something better we could be doing with all that waste.”

So she set up a blue collection bin for recyclables next to the courts and started encouraging people to throw their bottles and cans in it instead of the trash. Whenever the bin filled up she took it down to the state collection center in exchange for $.05 per can or bottle.

The idea caught on and within a year Wheeler had raised $500. She turned the money over to the board of the Lincoln Hills Pickleball Club with instructions to donate it locally, and the board decided to distribute it to foster kids who had aged out of the system and were attending a nearby college.

Word spread and Wheeler’s second year of gathering recyclables was even more successful, with her efforts bringing in $1200 that was distributed between Placer County Food Bank, Lincoln Hills Foundation, Lincoln’s Discovery Center, and pickleball coaching at a local elementary school.

This past year, Wheeler’s efforts resulted in three scholarships of $500 apiece for seniors graduating from Lincoln High School. The recipients were Alejandra Ceja, Penelope Garcia (class valedictorian), and Aaron Jackson.

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Three seniors from Lincoln High School were recipients of $500 scholarships each from the Lincoln Hills Pickleball Club: (from left to right) Alejandra Ceja, Aaron Jackson, and Penelope Garcia.

“These days I collect an average of about $150 a month,” Wheeler said. “So we’ll see what we bring in for next year’s donation.”

Wheeler’s hope is that the money will eventually be able to be used to help grow the sport in the city of Lincoln. “We’re working on getting public courts here and when we do, I’m hoping to use the money to help introduce new players to the sport by providing free paddles and pickleball clinics and other things like that for families who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford them.”

The pickleball community has rallied around the idea, and now many people bring recycling from their homes down to Wheeler’s courtside collection bin. “I even have a few neighbors just drop off bags of recycling on my porch,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler has been playing since 2007 and is a charter member of the Lincoln Hills Pickleball Club, which plays on courts within the retirement community of Sun City Lincoln Hills. “We started with 30 members playing on basketball courts with portable nets,” she said. “Now we have 500 members sharing six courts. You can see why we’re eager to help the city of Lincoln embrace the sport and catch up with demand.”

According to Wheeler, court construction talks are underway and the hope is that she and her fellow residents will be able to enjoy new public courts in Lincoln within two years. Until then, she’ll keep collecting recyclables from her pickleball cohorts and using the money to donate to the community in the name of pickleball.