Pickleball “All Heart” Award: Dick Howell and the Heart O’ The Hills Camp for Girls


This is a pickleball love story.  Enjoy what Dick Howell has to say about the history and development of pickleball at a girls camp in Hunt, Texas.

In 1976, Heart O’ The Hills Camp for Girls in Hunt, Texas, constructed a dedicated Pickleball Court with equipment brought to the Heart O’ The Hills Camp by a man from Atlanta.  Most of the equipment was lost in an ensuing flood and no one knew how to replace it.

Heart O Hills 1

Heart O Hills Pickleball Court

It became a badminton court. Then it was used as a volleyball, dodgeball and basketball court, as well as a staging area for many tribal activities. But, it has always been called the pickleball court. I confessed to many a parent that I had no idea what the game of pickleball was, only that it was a court game.

 Then, one day I played pickleball.  

 Two years ago I started up pickleball again at the Heart O’ The Hills Girls Camp as an elective activity. All of the girls that try it, love it. This year I am expecting 25 girls for a four-week session. It has been a great experience,  a learning experience for me. Success in anything boosts confidence and self-esteem, and I do not know of another sports where success comes so suddenly.

Heart O Hills 2

First Class of Pickleball 6-8 year old girls at Camp Heart O’ The Hills

Thank you so much, Dick Howell, for sharing this story of pickleball lost and pickleball found at the Heart O’ The Hills Girls Camp.   You definitely have earned the PickleballCentral “All Heart” Award.  Congratulations!

Sequim Picklers

It takes a village to grow a pickleball community.  Sequim Picklers is one such community that is growing because folks like Jack Olmsted, Video Blogger and Ben Sanders, USAPA Ambassador work hard to get the word out about pickleball in their community.  Enjoy!


Ben: Hi my name is Ben Sanders. I’m director of court operations for the Sequim Picklers in Sequim, Washington. We are presently at the Boys and Girls Club which we rent on weekends for indoor play when it it raining, which it is going now. So we have an indoor venue. We have a hundred and thirty-four members at present. We would love to have anyone in the Sequim area, even on the peninsula. We have several people from Port Townsend, numerous people from Port Angeles that come to play with us and our members of our club. And we’d love to have you.

We play Pickleball. You see the venue behind me. We end up with between 25 and 35 people on Saturdays and Sundays each day. And then we play seven days a week. That is Monday Wednesday and Friday at 9 o’clock in the morning till noon. Tuesdays and Thursdays from three o’clock until five. And on Tuesdays and Thursdays has at three o’clock also has free instruction for anyone member or non-member to come and learn how to play the game of pickleball.

Jack: How do you become a member?

You can come any of our events seven days a week Monday though Friday, plus Saturdays and Sundays indoor at the Boys/Girls Club and at any of those events will have cards ready for you to sign for membership. Membership is not very expensive, it is a little over buck a month. So, you’re at fifteen dollars a year for membership. We will then explain what we are doing. We are in the process right now of building our own courts that will be at Kerry Park near the dog park. We are looking to build 12 courts ourselves. The city has chipped in we have raised well over $116,000 ourselves. So that we can end up with a state-of-the- art facility for members to play at and we will also open it up to the public.

Jack: What is the goal? How much do you have to raise?

Ben: Our goal is $250,000. It has to be built with union and professionally. We have to go by the City codes and so it’s a little more expensive. But, we have a goal of $260,000. We’ve raised, I believe $116,000. So, we are well on our way to get the courts we want built. We’re all trying to do it sooner than later because we are running of years.

Jack: You are running out of years because of your age bracket?

Ben: Because our age bracket. We have a lot of young players. Our president is a young player. He came from the tennis group but he’s given up tennis and has taken on pickleball. Doug Hastings is the president of  the board. I ams also a three year board member and also an ambassador to the United States Pickleball Association. So, anytime you have any questions or the instruction, set-up or practice or anything you can give me a call. My name is Ken Sanders my number is locally 360) 808-1024 We play on Tuesdays and Thursdays even when I’m not here I have a group of instructors that come in and continue that instruction once you start it on Tuesdays and Thursdays at three o’clock on either of those two days. It is basic instruction, intermediate instruction and even advanced practice where you can work on lobs or you can work can overhead slams and all aspects of the game.

Jack: Can you give us a little tip? You got a paddle and a ball in your hand right now. Can you give us a little pickle ball tip?

Ben: The tip is that most people are afraid that when they stand at the kitchen line which is right in front of the net they afraid that when the ball comes at them they will bet hit. So, if you simply take your paddle hold it nice and loose when you are at the kitchen line put your thumb on the back, like this, and then hold it here and touch the paddle and anything that comes at you just punch the ball forward. Punch the ball forward. Anything that comes right at you – your face or your chest or over here all you do is punch the ball forward. You don’t have to be afraid of anything coming right at you because you are all prepared to defend it and it gets back over the net and extends the game and become a pickleball player.

If you would like to see the whole interview, you can find it on the Seattle PI website:


Super-Hero Pickleball Tournament

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!

Oyster Bay Halloween Tournament

Oyster Bay Super Hero Tournament

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.

Pickleball Superman and Batman Oyster Bay Pickleball Club TournamentHow 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.

Captain America Pickleball Oyster Bay Tournament

Looks like a fun group of people and a great way to get everyone excited about the game!

Happy Anniversary, Pickleball

While browsing Facebook, we stumbled upon photos from First State Pickleball’s 50th Anniversary party for pickleball! Looks like the kind of party we’d love to go to. What’s not to love about cake, pickleball and more pickleball?

50th Anniversary Cake

50th Anniversary Cake – looks delicious!


First State Pickleball Club

First State Pickleball Club celebrates pickleball’s 50th anniversary


Pin the Ball on the Paddle

Pin the Ball on the Paddle

Pickleball and friends

Spin, spin, spin!


Pickleball exhibition at Rehoboth Beach Museum

Pickleball exhibition at Rehoboth Beach Museum- over 100 guests turned out!

Great work, First State! To read more about their event or to see more photos, hop on over to their Facebook page.

Here’s to 50 more years!

Pickleball playing

Pickle on!

All photos via First State Pickleball Club

Local Pickleball Guide – Lower East “Mitten”, Michigan

Local Pickleball Guide – Detroit “Lower East Mitten”, Michigan

We love to hear about Pickleball Clubs that dig in and have fun, no matter what the weather!  Here’s the latest “Scoop” on the Detroit Suburbs, otherwise known as SE “Mitten”, Michigan. 

Due Donlin playing pickleball with a Z5

Sue Donlin at Whittier Park, Royal Oak, Michigan

USAPA Ambassadors – Michigan 

The Michigan list of USAPA Pickleball Ambassadors includes:
SE Michigan — Gary Bejin 248-770-7589 Waterford MI
SE Michigan — Chuck Dominick 248-224-5188 Rochester Hills MI
SE Michigan — Peggy Murphy Kurza 586-779-7660 Grosse Pointe Woods MI
SE Michigan — Pam Mackowski 248-828-7395 Troy MI
SE Michigan — Ray Snay 586-322-6142 Shelby Township MI
All of these folks are willing to help in the promotion of the sport of pickleball in their community.  They know everything about the game and can lend a hand if you want to get a new group of “picklers” off the ground.

Pickleball Court Constructors in Michigan

You can find information about building new pickleball courts by contacting the company listed below:
Sport Court, Michigan http://www.sportcourtmi.com/commercial.php?gclid=CNuVsLy2yMACFQiDfgod8QwACA

Michigan Pickleball Clubs

Pickleball Clubs and YMCAs are the best place to go to find pickleball aficionados!  Check out the following in your area:

Royal Oak Pickleball Club
Royal Oaks Pickleball https://www.facebook.com/RoyalOakPickleballClub
Carl’s Family YMCA http://ymcadetroit.org/carls/healthy-living/sports-recreation/adult-pickleball

Pickleball Tournaments in Michigan

Check out the list of tournaments in Michigan.  Take your pick:

Royal Oak Michigan Tournament
State Games of Michigan, Grand Rapids, MI
Annual Pickleball Fun Tournament
Meijer State Games of Michigan
Toledo Pickleball Glass City Tournament
Michigan Senior Olympics, Summer Games

5.0 Ranked Players in Michigan

Where there are 5.0 Pickleball players there are opportunities to learn new skills!

Bremnath (Prem) Carnot, Empire, MI
Bart C Ford, Cedar, MI
James K Hackenberg, Kalamazoo, MI
Paul D Sprainitis, Canton, MI
Carolyn A Ebbinghaus, Traverse City, MI
Wendy W Garrido, Empire, MI
Yvonne M Hackenberg, Kalamazoo, MI

Pickleball Lessons in Michigan

Pickleball Guru Clinic

Rochester, MI – Free 50+ Beginner Pickleball Lessons-Wednesdays 09:30am–10:30am  Rochester Older Persons’ Commission, 650 Letica Drive, Rochester, MI 48307

There is no need for a partner and OPC provides all equipment. FREE for anyone 50 or older. You do not need to be a member of OPC for these lessons. Upon the completion of the beginner lessons you are invited to stay for Beginner/Mentor Games from 10:30am-11:30am. For more information, contact OPC at (248) 608-0295.

Royal Oak, MI – Free Lessons Tuesday evenings 06:30pm beginning Jun2–Jun 30
Whittier Park Pickleball Complex, E. Farnum Ave (North of 11 Mile and east of Main), Royal Oak MI

Don’t overlook any opportunity to learn from the “Pickleball Guru” Prem Carnot!

Pickleball Courts Around Michigan

So if you are looking for places to play in lower east “mitten” Michigan, check out the links below, and have fun:

Birmingham, Michigan
Farmington Hills
Royal Oak

Michigan Pickleball Related News and Youtube Videos

Live Long, Live Well in Michigan has created a great video on how to play pickleball.  Check it out!

Take a look at this article posted by aHealthierMichigan.org:



Great Lakes Pickleball

See the “mitten”?

Local Pickleball Guide – Bend, Oregon

Local Pickleball Guide – Bend, Oregon

Bend, Oregon has a motto: “It’s Where you Go to Play,” and pickleball popularity is growing by leaps and bounds in this recreational mecca!  Enjoy!

Bend Oregon Pickleball Courts


The introduction to pickleball on the Bend Oregon Recreation website states:  “OK, we’ll admit it sounds like a sport someone made up after too many stops on the Bend Ale Trail. But pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in America.”  Bend boasts “a startling abundance of world-class breweries clustered close together like the gold at the end of a big beer rainbow.”  Bend has more breweries per-capita than any other city in Oregon, and the social aspect of pickleball fits in nicely with the “Bend Ale Trail”.

Pickleball Courts Around Oregon

There are 11 places to play pickleball in Bend and 7 places to play in nearby communities. You can find a complete listing on the Bend Pickleball website.  There are 8 new pickleball courts in Pine Nursery Park, with construction on eight more under way!

USAPA Ambassadors – Oregon

Every community has a group of volunteers who promote the sport of pickleball and carry the title “Pickleball Ambassador”.  They know everything about the game and they can assist your community with promoting the game of pickleball.

A.J. Fraties and Les Scott demonstrate dinking

A.J. Fraties and Les Scott demonstrate the finer points of dinking as Irene Fraties instructs a player development clinic at Pine Nursery Park.

In the vicinity of the Bend, Oregon, the following Ambassadors are available to help you grow pickleball in your community:

— Sandy Brown  541-420-8852— Terry Brown  541-420-0195— A. J. Fraties  916-257-2097
— Irene Fraties  916-759-9256— Christie Gestvang  541-420-1802— Bruce Grout  206-499-3447
— Phil McCage  541-390-6283— Lee Moore  541-905-4408— Verna Moore  541-905-4408
— Rochelle Neal  661-510-0414— Rip Osterhuber  541-318-6253— Lisa Palcic  541-306-7850
— Tom Sifferman  541-390-1119

Pickleball Court Constructors in Oregon

You can find more information about court builds and resurfacing by checking out the Sport Court Oregon website.

Bend, Oregon Pickleball Clubs

The Bend Pickleball Club is a not-for-profit sports club based in Bend, Oregon. They promote pickleball in the Central Oregon area by offering education, playing opportunities, and facility development. They’ve partnered with Bend Parks & Recreation to create community pickleball courts in Bend, Oregon.

Pine Nursery Park Grand Opening

Pine Nursery Park Grand Opening: Photo courtesy of Verna Moore.

Pickleball Tournaments in Bend

Two big tournaments are held each year in Bend, Oregon.  The Big Country RV Tournament will be held August 14-16, 2015, and invites all USAPA Members to participate. The Oregon Senior Games Pickleball Tournament will be held June 19-21, 2015 and games will be played on the Pine Nursery Park courts.

Seniors playing pickleball

Very Fun Senior Games in Bend, Oregon

Bend, Oregon Pickleball Related News and Youtube Videos

If you would like to read local articles about pickleball enthusiasm in Bend, Oregon, just click on one of the links below:
Pickleball players hit Pine Nursery courts
“Donor puts pickleball expansion on the fast track”

5.0 Ranked Players Around Bend

Below is a list of 5.0 Ranked Players in the Bend, Oregon Area:
Randy Bitner
Kurtis Campbell
James Cessna
Wes Gabrielsen
Troy W. Horton
Steve A Paranto
Vukman Soskic
Tony Tollenaar
Patrick C Williams
June Crabb
Joy E Leising
Sheila Schoonover

Anyone “game” for a road trip to Bend, Oregon? 

Local Pickleball Guide – Baltimore City, Maryland

Local Pickleball Guide – Baltimore City, Maryland

Social Pickleball League, Baltimore

We love featuring places to play pickleball, especially when they have something special about their location or the way they organize their games. We hope you enjoy our Local Pickleball Guides!

Baltimore City, Maryland Pickleball Clubs

In Baltimore City, they have a Social Pickleball League.  These folks must have tons of fun.  Take a look at some of their team names:

• Pickle Heads                       • Pickle Pals
• Pickleback Shots                • Pickled Garlic
• Ruff Riders                          • Shut Up We’re Trying
• The Gherks                          • The Virgins
• B’More Dills                        • Curve Balls
• Dun Dilled It                       • Kind of a Big Dill
• Motorcycle Mamas            • OPP
• Paddle Pushers                 • Pickle Bells

The Spring 2014 League poster on the upcoming events page has a special note:

   **Equipment Provided & Beer is Welcomed**

USAPA Ambassadors – Baltimore City

Every community has a group of volunteers who promote the sport of pickleball and carry the title “Pickleball Ambassador”.  They know everything about the game and they can assist your community with promoting the game of pickleball.  In the vicinity of the state of Maryland, the following Ambassadors are listed on the USAPA.org website:

Anne Arundel County — Floyd Zablotny 443-274-2383 Millersville, MD
Carroll County — Bob Eney 410-526-2086 Finksburg, MD
Forest Hill-Harford County — Pat Wallace 410-692-2401 Forest Hill, MD

Maryland Pickleball for all

Pickleball Court Constructors in Baltimore City

Occasionally, a pickleball enthusiast might want to install a pickleball court in their yard or neighborhood. You can find more information about court builds and resurfacing by checking out the SportMaster Sport Surfaces website:

Baltimore City, Maryland Pickleball Related News and Youtube Videos

If you would like to read local articles about pickleball enthusiasm in Maryland, just click on one of the links below:

Pickleball Gets Even More Social in Maryland Sport and Social Club

Pickleball, anyone?

And of course, you can watch the video below to see members of the Baltimore City Social 2014 Fall Pickleball League in action.


Marlene Berwald, USAPA Ambassador – Growing Pickleball

Anna interviewed Marlene Berwald at the USAPA Nationals last November…she gives free pickleball lessons…Thanks Marlene!

Marlene:  My name is Marlene Berwald. I am the Vice President, here, of the Surprise Pickleball Association and also the Ambassador for the USAPA.  Once a month, I’m out here, on the second Monday of the month. I give free lessons to anybody that shows up at 6:00 PM. We have anywhere from two to a dozen people show up month to month for their free lesson. They don’t have to bring a paddle or the ball. All they have, I just require them to wear gym shoes.

Anna:  So, where do you get your paddles and balls from?

Marlene:  Steve Wong [Onix Sports] donated a few of his demo paddles to us so we always have, I have probably six paddles in my car. We have more in the lock up box here and we keep them for just any occasion where people don’t have paddles and they want to try out the sport.

And I always have balls. That didn’t sound right. Cut. (laughs)


Mt Charleston Pickleball Club – Pass the Teapot!

The Mt. Charleston Pickleball Club in Nevada appears to be a really fun bunch.  They posted a picture on Facebook recently that caught lots of attention:

Arguing pickleballers

One viewer commented “They need to Stay out of the Kitchen”!  Hahaha!

They are mostly police volunteers who love getting together and having fun every week.  As I looked at all the photos of the happy bunch of pickleball club members, I saw photos of folks posing with a lovely teapot.  I had to ask, what’s with the teapot?

Lauren Olson, one of the members responded: “As it happens it was quite by accident. My husband, Chris, was chasing after a pickleball which went into the bushes and came back with the teapot.”

Chris and newcomer Liz won the pot in September 2014

Chris and newcomer Liz won the pot in September 2014!


“Brenda Talley, one of our players, said that we should make that our trophy. She took it home, cleaned and polished it and the next time we played I suggested that everyone keep track of how many games they win and the top two people will win the “pickleball pot”. They then get their picture taken with the pickleball pot each week. It’s become a coveted award.”

The pickleball pot

“Another one of our player’s children decided since it was a “pot” it needed money inside of it and now it has gold plastic coins inside. It has been fun.”

Yes I can see that this club knows how to have fun.  Thanks for sharing your story with our readers!



How One Pickleball Club Grew From 1-200 in Twelve Months: The power of one person sharing what they love

Pickleball by the Sea

Pickleball by the Sea is a recreational club of Pickleballers who play at Jarboe Park in Neptune Beach and Isle of Palms Park. They believe Pickleball is not just fun, it’s good for both your body and your soul!

Verna Griffin was introduced to pickleball in October 2012 by friends from Virginia. She loved the game and wanted to share it with others in her Neptune Beach, FL community. Here’s a month by month summary of how she shared a game with three other people and how this group went on to form a club, Pickleball by the Sea,  that would grow to two hundred people in just twelve months.

January –  Pickleball started with one person, Verna Griffin, inviting three other people to play pickleball on a cold afternoon at a local park. Verna provided the pickleball equipment and explained the rules of the game to the others.

February – The first club newsletter was sent to 24 people.

March – The number of people participating in the game increased with each day of open play. Additional courts at the park were painted by volunteers.

April – The local newspaper ran an article about Pickleball and the Pickleball by the Sea club.  An open clinic was held at the park with nineteen volunteer helpers. Twenty seven newbies took part in learning and playing the game.

May – Pickleball by the Sea was featured on the front page of the South USAPA website. A local retirement community hosted a pickleball clinic. A local company donated some pickleball equipment to the club.

June – Great weather help the club grow. The club hosted a successful “in house” ladder tournament.

July – The heat of the summer and long hours of daylight motivated the club to move the time of play to the cooler morning hours.

August –  Pickleball players from other states visited the club.

September – A local country club was closing and club members approached the country club about possibly donating their wind screens for the park’s pickleball courts.

October – At the Senior Games of Jacksonville, Pickleball by the Sea club members placed in each division. (Not bad for a new group of picklers.) Another park started offering open play once a week.

November – Volunteers removed the wind screens from the country club and install them at the park for the pickleball courts. A second clinic was held at a retirement community. More pickleball courts were developed nearby.

December The PickleGram newsletter is delivered to over 200 individuals via email. Over 400 local people have been introduced to pickleball. In a short year pickleball is now available every day at one or more of  eight local pickleball venues. The 1st Annual Mistletoe Pickleball Tournament and Social is planned for December 14th in nearby St. Augustine, FL.

What’s happened to your pickleball club in 2013? Share your success and failures with us, email anna@pickleballcentral.com. Let’s learn together how to share pickeball with more people because, as the Pickleball by the Sea club says, “Pickleball is not just fun, it’s good for both your body and your soul!” – Anna