PickleballCentral “All Heart” Award: Galax Rec Center Picklers

The Galax Rec Center Picklers are a small group of 8-9 players who donated equipment to Galax Elementary school to get a pickleball program started. The surprise is evident when the teacher came into the gym to see the equipment for the first time.

All of the teachers and students at Galax Elementary were thrilled with having pickleball at their school!

The PE teacher went to a conference this week and heard about the new sport of pickleball sweeping the USA. She really strutted, telling how her students at Galax Elementary were already set up and playing pickleball.

The Galax Rec. Center Picklers would like to challenge other pickleball clubs to furnish their schools with pickleball sets.  The rewards and the smiles are absolutely worthwhile!

Congrats to all!

PickleballCentral “All Heart” Award: The Lake Wildwood Pickleball Club, Penn Valley, California

PickleballCentral likes to acknowledge pickleball clubs who give back to the community. We extend our appreciation and our All Heart Award to the Lake Wildwood Pickleball Club for their efforts to raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness month.i-love-pickleball1


On October 1, 2016 the Lake Wildwood Pickleball Club supported the fight against breast cancer with their 1st Annual “Go Pink & Dink” Pickleball Tournament.

Trophies for the Go Pink and Dink Tournament

Trophies for the Go Pink and Dink Tournament

 Aren't these awards adorable?

Aren’t these awards adorable?


Tournament action on the courts

Tournament action on the courts

They had 55 teams enter, and raised over $6800 for Breast Cancer Awareness.

Barna and Colleen Coke, 1st Place, Mixed Doubles

Barna and Colleen Coke, 1st Place, Mixed Doubles


Pickleball Gals at the Go Pink and Dink Tournament

Pickleball Gals at the Go Pink and Dink Tournament

All In Good Fun!

All In Good Fun!







100% of the proceeds went to support the Breast Imaging Center at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital in Grass Valley, CA. This organization has the recognition of being in the top five centers of excellence for breast cancer treatment in the nation!

Kimberly Parker speaking to the Go Pink and Dink tournament participants.

Kimberly Parker speaking to the Go Pink and Dink tournament participants.

Kimberly Parker, from the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation, was presented with the amount the club raised.  She was amazed!

Presentation of the Breast Cancer Awareness check to Kimberly Parker

Presentation of the Breast Cancer Awareness check to Kimberly Parker

Everybody wins at this kind of event. They plan to expand the tournament to 2 days next year. Thank you, Lake Wildwood Pickleball Club, for reaching out to your community in such a fun and rewarding way.


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!

Pickleball Central All Heart Award – Connestee Falls Mountain Picklers


We all love a great story about how pickleball clubs help out the community.  Today, we are awarding the Connestee Falls Mountain Picklers the PickleballCentral All Heart Award.  Deb Richter provides the background to their philanthropic efforts. Enjoy!

Mountain Picklers courts

Connestee Falls, an incredible community nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina, is surrounded by the natural beauty of national, state and county parks, over 250 waterfalls, the Blue Ridge Parkway, mountain biking, oh, and did I mention PICKLEBALL!  Our community converted an orphan tennis court into 4 dedicated pickleball courts and we have a thriving pickleball community, totally supported by our Property Owners Association!  As they say, “If you build it, they will come.”

Connestee Falls Mountain Picklers

Tournament Participants – Photo Courtesy of The Transylvania Times, Dec. 24, 2015, Vol.129, No.103

Connestee Falls was started in 1970, and for the past 27 years, we have given back to our county by sponsoring the Connestee Falls Scholarship Program.  This program started as a golf Pro-Am and the monies raised were given to the local high schools and colleges for scholarships.  When pickleball came on the scene, as our ambassador, I wanted to grow the level of play in the area and tap into the generosity of our residents.  In 2011, we ran our first Scholarship Fund Tournament and raised about $3500.  Since then, we have had a tournament every year, and have raised over $30,000 for the youth of our county.  That, combined with the other efforts in our community, has given 27 people a chance to go to college this year alone,  We raised over $75,000 as a community this year and more than $650,000 over the past 27 years.

Mountain Picklers

The Connestee Falls Mountain Picklers www.carolinapickleball.com  are very proud of this program and will continue to sponsor the tournament as long as we have players.  This coming year, we are considering expanding the venue, utilizing our tennis courts, and in the event of rain, Brevard College, our Recreation center and the local racquet club have offered facilities.  We thank PickleballCentral for their support this past year, giving us raffle items for the tournament and hope to have them on board this next year, supporting us support kids going to college.

Mountain Picklers players

Pickleball players George Vickery, Eric Ostrec, Ron Kiviniemi and Buck Baker enjoy a competitive contest earlier this year at Connestee Falls – Photo Courtesy of The Transylvania Times, Dec. 24, 2015, Vol.129, No.103

PS I am starting a youth program at the boys and girls club and will be running a multi-generational tournament/playday the week after Easter this spring.

Thank you, Deb, for sharing some of your club’s story supporting your community!  Congratulations! 



PickleballCentral “All Heart” Award: Jeff Anthony and the Pickleburg Community


All Heart Award: Jeff Anthony and the Pickleburg Community

Jeff AnthonyPickleburg

Jeff Anthony, USAPA Ambassador

Meet the creator of Pickleburg:  USAPA Pickleball Ambassador – Jeff Anthony.

Jeff was an active tennis player before trying pickleball 4 years ago.  Jeff likes competition, likes being responsible for his own behavior on the court and is willing to “share” in doubles. The first time he played pickleball, he injured his Achilles tendons in both feet. So, after recovery from his initial pickleball injury, he’s been actively playing for 2 years now. He feels fortunate that others took the time to show him how to play. He loved the game of pickleball so much that he did a lot of research, like how to get started, how to get better. Since necessity is the mother of invention, he then designed and built the Pickleburg website to share what he learned with others who asked about pickleball. He was so amazed by the number inquiries he received about how to get started that he put buttons up front on the website,  “Getting Started” and “Getting Better”.

Pickleburg is not a club, it is a way to find information about pickleball in the area. Jeff does the Pickleburg website for fun. When he posts new articles, it means he has learned something new about pickleball that he wants to share with other pickleball fans. He encourages folks who contact him to register on the website so they can have access to contact information of other players in the area.  Registration also helps in the sending out of announcements, especially when there is inclement weather and the pickleball schedule or venue has to be changed. How big is Pickleburg? Although primarily focused on supporting and growing the sport in Williamsburg, Pickleburg.com receives visitors and inquiries from across the US and Canada.

Jeff was approached by a regional Ambassador about 2 years ago to become a USAPA Ambassador.  It seemed consistent with what he was doing through his Pickleburg website. Jeff comes from a military background that had an emphasis on collaboration and hi-performance environment. Collaboration is key to a great tournament, especially with the Williamsburg Fall Classic. The James City County Parks and Recreation Department (JCC P&R) has worked with various groups through the years to support the growth of pickleball.  JCC P&R puts on the local pickleball tournament, the Williamsburg Fall Classic.  The tournament draws top players from the state and up and down the east coast.  This year, the tournament will be expanded to include a local player day and then added clinics.

Medalists 2015 WFC

Medalists at 2015 Williamsburg Fall Classic: Erin Coppersmith, Jeanie Duncan, Becky Jilcott, Jimmy Ritchie, Carolyn Law, Steve Valiant

Mid County Park, Williamsburg, VA

Mid County Park, Williamsburg, VA

The Pickleburg website makes it easier to promote the game with one voice.  Jeff helps the JCC P&R with media releases, promotional materials and reaching out to potential sponsors and by posting registration info on his website. People who have been involved in pickleball longer than him have helped put it on the actual Williamsburg tournament.

Jeff is also a pickleball coach, and when he holds classes, he has them work for an hour and then he lets them loose. He starts slower with his classes.  He is really aware of the potential to hurt oneself with too much play. He has a catch phrase about the potential harm of overplay: “green legs and hamstrings.”

The local Pickleburg folks do clinics in cooperation with the James City County Multi-Sport Summer Camp for Kids:  offering classes for the 7-9 year old and the 10-12 year old age groups.  It is a good way to bring forward a child’s ability to pay attention.  They may not always pay attention in school, but every one who attends their summer clinics really pays attention.  They also do a clinic for 80-somethings at a continuing care community.  Those folks are excited and enthusiastic to try it; they are all still kids inside.  That is why he loves the game: it is so easy to be enthusiastic about it.

WFC 2015

Williamsburg Fall Classic 2015

Jeff and the whole Pickleburg Community are to be commended for their efforts to spread the good news about pickleball through tournaments, clinics and just plain fun playing the game.

PickleballCentral “All Heart” Award: Ken Marquardt and the Apex Parks and Recreation of Arvada, Colorado



Women's Doubles at Apex Center in Arvada Colorado Photo Credit: CBSDENVER

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

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.

Pickleball for heroes cropped

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

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

TBI Check Presentation

Congratulations, Ken Marquardt and the Arvada Pickleballers!  You definitely have a “Heart” for your community!

Check out the Arvada Press Article: Pickleball Goal is to Help Veterans

PickleballCentral All Heart Award: The Pickleball North Club in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


I love pickleball!

Ross Community Center pickleball

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 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:


Keep up the good “heart” work, Pickleball North!  We look forward to hearing more good news about your community service next year!


PickleballCentral “All Heart” Award: Central’s Angels

I love pickleball decal

Have a Heart?  You bet!  The pickleball club Central’s Angels definitely has a heart for those who are in need.  We found out about their service work to the community when they ordered their club t-shirts from PickleballCentral. I spoke with Lee Bergen, and this is what Lee had to say about Central’s Angels:

The pickleball players of Central United Methodist Church are typical players , with one exception:  we play for a cause, and in a very small way we are helping to fight hunger in Atlantic City. We play three mornings a week in the Central Methodist Church Recreation Hall in Linwood, New Jersey.  We all enjoy the game and each other’s company.  Since we only have one court, we spend as much time talking as we do playing.  We are fortunate, as seniors, to be happy, healthy and still in the game.

Last year we felt a little guilty about having so much fun, when less then 10 miles away in Atlantic City there were so many hungry and homeless people.  About that same time our church took on the responsibility of making 300 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every month for Sister Jean’s Kitchen, which provides lunch for the homeless and poor on weekdays in Atlantic City.  The kitchen is closed on weekends, so the sandwiches help folks out until the next Monday rolls around.  We jumped on the chance to be involved.

Pickleball Angels and the peanut butter collection jar

Pickleball Angels and the peanut butter collection jar

We began donating when we play, putting the money in a peanut butter jar we kept handy.  Throwing in a buck or two regularly is a small price to pay for the enjoyment we get out of the game.  Then we show up every month to help make and bag the sandwiches. When one of the members of the congregation called us pickleball angels, we adopted the name.  We then had t-shirts made to show off our new name.

Here comes the jelly!

Here comes the jelly!


Filling Sandwich bags Centrals angels

Central’s Angels filling sandwich bags

It's OK to be in THIS KITCHEN!

It’s OK to be in THIS KITCHEN!

 In May we completed our first year with a total of $1037.00 donated to the cause.  We are in our second year and have made over 5000 sandwiches.   Central’s Angels also does service in the church like changing  light bulbs, setting up tables and waxing floors.  

Central's Angels Pickleball Club

Central’s Angels Pickleball Club

Pickleball is not only good for the body. but with a cause it’s good for the soul as well.  There are hundreds probably thousands of groups like ours playing throughout this country. Think of all the good that could be accomplished if we all found a cause to play for and support.  I would love to hear from you if any of you like this idea and put it into practice.  Lee Bergen

Thank you, Lee, for being willing to share your story with our readers!