14 Days of Legendary: Honoring Those Who Helped Make Pickleball Great

Brought to you by: The Pickleball Rocks Clothing & Equipment Company

14 Days Of Legendary

Honoring those who have made pickleball GREAT

DAY ONE:  Pat Kane
When I started playing over 12 years ago, there was only one answer to who was the best player in the game.  Everyone agreed it was Pat Kane.  In my early years I saw him play many times and it didn’t matter whether it was singles, men’s doubles or mixed doubles, I NEVER saw him lose.
Simply a legendary player.

DAY TWO:  Arlen Paranto
Can you say legend? Arlen Paranto could fill a whole chapter in the history of pickleball book. But what is important to you and what we know for sure is that pickleball paddles would not be what they are today with the his creativity. In 1984 Arlen, a Boeing Industrial Engineer, put together fiberglass and a Nomex Honeycomb and created the very first composite paddle.  Yes, Arlen moved us away from wooden paddles.
Simply a legendary man..

DAY THREE:  Fran Myer
Fran is another legend that helped form pickleball as you know it today.  Fran was on the very first board of directors for USA Pickleball, then known as the USAPA. In 1999 Fran along with her husband Barney launched the very first pickleball website, called Pickleball Stuff.  It offered information as well as products, though you couldn’t pay for the product online with a credit card at that time.
 So Fran Myer has helped shape the sport of pickleball from the business side, the administrative side and the player side. Thank you Fran for all you have done and continue to do.

DAY FOUR:  Billy Jacobsen
Many years ago I attended my first Nationals tournament in Buckeye, Arizona.  And one of the very first high level players I saw was a guy who simply looked like a professional athlete. When I met Billy, he instantly impressed me as a kind, generous soul, but on the court he was amazing. So much fun to watch.  During his hey day, he was almost unbeatable.
3x USAPA Nationals: National Champion
4x USAPA Nationals: Silver medalist
2x USAPA Nationals: Bronze Medalist
Billy was a dominant open player for two decades. And to add to his legendary status, Billy Jacobsen is the only player to have ever won national level tournaments in singles and doubles playing entirely left handed during one tournament and then entirely right handed during another. Quite simply, everyone who saw or met him loved Billy, and still do today.  Billy was one of the very first inductees into the Pickleball Hall of Fame.  A Legend.

DAY FIVE:  Mark “Yoda” Friedenberg

Some say Mark Friedenberg invented pickleball.  That is not true, but Mark has done so much to shape pickleball that it would seem he created it.  Mark was the first president of the USA Pickleball Association as well as the first Ratings and Rankings director. (No do not blame him for the current rating system). Mark has won more gold medals than can be counted at the National and Regional levels. 8x USAPA National Champion
4x USAPA Nationals Silver medalist
6x USAPA Nationals Bonze medalist
For many years Mark owned Pro-lite Sports and made it one of the major paddle companies. He also authored The Official Pickleball Handbook which has exposed an entire new wave of players to pickleball. But the one thing that truly makes Mark legendary is his penchant for teaching.  Though we cannot track the actual numbers, we believe he may be the all time leader in lessons given.  Truly a giver and a well known legend.

Mark Friedenberg

DAY SIX:  Robert Lanius

This will be a new one for most newer players.   But if you have ever been to a tournament that ran smoothly because the tournament director chose to use the PickleballTournaments software, then you have long time pickleball player Robert Lanius to thank.  Robert and his wonderful wife Jettye worked tirelessly as tournament directors for years.  And as Bob recognized the various challenges encountered during the tournaments, he designed and coded the software that eliminated the problems and essentially has made it possible to have tournaments with large numbers of players  If not for computer software, it would be almost impossible to smoothly run a tournament over a few hundred players. Today that software is known as PickleballTournaments.com.  Thank you Robert Lanius.  You are a true legend of pickleball.

Mark Friedenberg

DAY SEVEN:  Earl Hill

Earl is a familiar name to anyone who has been around pickleball for awhile. He was on the very first board of directors for the new USAPA. But what many people may not know is that pickleball is now growing at an exponential rate because of Earl’s tireless work and his creation of the USAPA Ambassador program.  It is because of Earl that today there are over 1600 passionate ambassadors growing pickleball in every nook and cranny of the US. Thanks to Earl Hill.  A legend.

Mark Friedenberg

DAY EIGHT:  Enrique Ruiz

When you meet Enrique the first time, you will never forget him and everyone loves him. He reaches out to players everywhere with a helping hand and words of encouragement.  He is a true gentleman on and off the court. Enrique was one of the first true ambidextrous players on the tournament scene.  He switches effortlessly from right hand to left which allows him to cover big chunks of the court with minimal movement.  So when you see him play, you just automatically want to copy is style of play, but few can.  He has won multiple national championships and is simply a special person in our sport. Yes, a legend.

Enrique Ruiz

DAY NINE:  THE TEAM – Jennifer Lucore and Alex Hamner

It is really hard to mention one without the other.  For years and years and years, the team of Alex and Jennifer ruled women’s pickleball at the very top level.  We don’t have a final count of how many tournaments these wonderful ladies won together, but I do know they are still stacking titles up today, and I know this:  In 2011 this duo traveled to Buckeye, Arizona and won the Womens Open Doubles title at the USAPA National tournament.  Just a side note, the entry fee for a player to enter was $30. From 2011 all the way through Nationals 2014, Jennifer and Alex did not lose a Womens Open match.  This is a streak at the top level which will likely never be beaten. Two awesome ladies on and off the court, they are truly legendary.

Jennifer Lucore and Alex Hamner

How To Get Your Pickleball Courts Built: Show Me The Money

How To Get Courts: Here’s A Great Example

Why don’t more communities have dedicated pickleball courts?
99.99% of the time, the answer is MONEY.  Trust me, if you walk into any town council meeting or parks and rec meeting and announce that you have the total amount of money needed to build some pickleball courts or better yet, a pickleball facility, you will get instant cooperation.  Roadblocks and obstacles will disappear like magic.  And soon your community will be playing pickleball.
So then the question is…where do you find the money?
THE ANSWER?
EVERYWHERE!!!

So what is the formula for getting money from everywhere to build a place to play pickleball?  Here is the perfect example and the perfect blueprint, and it is called PICTONA.

We recently visited Pictona to participate in their very first tournament.  We had the Pickleball Rocks booth there as a vendor and I was lucky enough to find someone to partner with me so I could play men’s double.  Had a great time.

But I got so much more by attending.  I saw first hand what is possible when you get private citizens, organizations, companies and civic leaders all pulling together for the good of a community.

The picture above is a recent photo.  To help you better understand how any community of any size could do this, let me take you on a tour.

In the picture, let’s begin on the left side.  That is three beautiful Bocce courts. Then right above that you see a shade structure sitting right next to a regulation size Croquet court.  Next, though it is hard to see in the picture, sits two Shuffleboard courts. All these are free, fun outdoor activities for seniors. 
Keep that in mind as we take the rest of the tour.

Who do you know that supports senior activities?

Next, look at the lower right hand corner.  That area is the Community Gardens.  It contains raised garden plots that you can rent for a season, as well as a children’s garden where kids learn how to plant and raise flowers and vegetables.  Plus there is a Hydroponic garden that supplies the fresh vegetables for the in-house restaurant and bar that is appropriately named, “The Kitchen”.   More about The Kitchen in a bit.
Who do you know that supports gardening or kids education?

Now let’s move to the center of the picture.  You will see dark green areas.  Those are shade structures scattered throughout 16 beautiful, individually fenced pickleball courts.  Each court has at least 8 feet of space on each side and 10 feet beyond the baselines.  Outdoor pickleball at its best. 
Great fun and great exercise.

Who do you know that supports healthy living and exercise?

Also in almost the exact center of the picture is a small grey shade structure.  Actually it is not small at all.  That is a big covered pavilion area with picnic tables, nice restrooms and storage building.   This is a great area to bring the family for a picnic or bring a group for a relaxing game of cards or a board game. 
Just a fun area.

Who do you know that supports family activities?

Now we’ll move to the crown jewel of Pictona.  This is the big covered area in the upper center of the photograph.

That is the home of 8 more pickleball courts, all under one roof with fences, bleachers and an amazing upstairs 180 foot long observation deck.   Take some food upstairs and enjoy the view and watch the competition.

In the picture you can’t see it because it has a slanted roof, but attached to the back side of the 8 covered court structure is the heartbeat of Pictona.  It runs all the way to the rear parking lot.   It is a building that houses “The Kitchen” in-house restaurant, which serves a variety of smoothies and healthy food items along with a fully stocked bar area. 

In addition, it houses a Table Tennis Room (yes they have a Table Tennis Club) and also hosts some fun Cornhole games, as well as locker rooms, massage room, conference rooms and the Welcome Desk, plus a fully stocked Player Shop with paddles, apparel and accessories.
Who do you know that supports healthy, fun community activities?

So I give you this tour not to tout Pictona, though it is a magnificent facility, but to show what can be done when you get multiple people and entities working together to support the community.

The ground was broken for Pictona in May 2019 with completion in July 2020. The total cost?  $6M. 
How was it raised?

It started with a $3M donation from wonderful community supporters and pickleball player’s Rainer and Julie Martens.
It included private contributions from 560 people who signed up as pickleball club members even before the construction was complete.
It included a $400K ECHO grant. (please don’t write me to find out what that is or how to apply).
It included sponsorships including:
Florida Health Care Plans ($100K for each of the next 5 years) to be the sponsor/supporter of all the Senior related activities.
Advent Health ($20K for each of the next 5 years) to be the sponsor/supporter of the 8 covered courts.

Brown & Brown Insurance ($10K each of the next 5 years) to be the sponsor/supporter of all the Youth related activities.
S.R. Perrott ($5K for each of the next 5 years) to be the sponsor/supporter of the covered recreational pavilion and “The Kitchen”.

Yes, this was a huge project and is now a wonderful community centered facility for Holly Hill Florida.

But what it really is, is the template for how to build pickleball courts or a a pickleball facility of any size in any community.

Pictona was built by people, organizations, small businesses and corporations who love to help support good worthwhile causes. That is the key.  Find those who support worthy causes and bring them together for a great community project.

Those supporters are out there in every community. It is just a matter of finding them and letting they know that building pickleball courts are a key activity that can help improve any community large or small.

So we would encourage you to change the way you think about getting pickleball courts.  Even indoor courts.

Don’t try to convince the city or town leaders, or parks departments to build courts.  We know how that goes…most of the time.

Instead, find those financial supporters first.  Sponsor and donors, private and corporate, they are your key.

Money talks and money wins the pickleball courts….every time!

Good luck and keep those new courts coming.

Rocket

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Donnie and Patty Gallegos Join The Pickleball Rocks Team

We are so pleased to announce our first ever Pickleball Rocks brand sponsored players.

We have been searching for a couple who embodies what Pickleball Rocks is all about, and we feel we have found the perfect match for us.

Whether it’s playing in a tournament, teaching a clinic or just horsing around on the courts, Donnie and Patty Gallegos certainly embody our motto of “Helping Pickleball Grow” as they travel from community to community, having fun and spreading the good word about pickleball.

We are truly excited and proud to have them wearing and promoting the Pickleball Rocks apparel brand.

And equally excited for them as this sponsorship also provides them with an exclusive paddle sponsorship from our branding partners at Gearbox Sports. Watch for Donny and Patty as they use the new technology GX5 and GX6 paddles.  Hit them up for a demo.  I’m sure they will be happy to help.

So please help us welcome Donnie and Patty to the Pickleball Rocks team

Welcome To The Pickleball Rocks Team
Donnie and Patty Gallegos

Why Pickleball is Now Unstoppable

It was March 14th, 2020.  I was on a jet on the way home from the just cancelled USAPA Mid South Regional pickleball tournament.  Not to sound too dramatic, but it was the day that pickleball died.  Well at least it went on life support.  Tournament directors began cancelling tournaments right and left, followed soon by that painful sound of chains and padlocks being put on public courts all across the USA.

Yes, there were private courts that were able to keep the pulse alive, but for all intents and purposes, the sport of pickleball ceased almost overnight.  And with it came the demise of many small pickleball businesses and pickleball entrepreneurs who simply couldn’t find enough business to keep their pickleball dreams alive.

For over 10 years, players have bought and supported our Pickleball Rocks family’s brand of clothing and apparel. You made Pickleball Rocks the best selling and most recognized pickleball apparel brand in the country by far, and for that we are eternally grateful.

But yes, the COVID19 pandemic has taken its toll on our business too.  The shutdown of pickleball meant we could no longer be a vendor at the 35-40 yearly tournaments on our schedule.  And more impactful was the fact that with people being shut in, they quit shopping online for pickleball apparel and paddles.  Their focus understandably went to buying toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other essentials for survival.

So in the words of Albert Einstein, “in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.”

For us, the virus forced us to hunker down in the office and while we have been locked down, we have been working harder than ever before.  The result is a brand new line of apparel that we are extremely excited about.  It will include both adult apparel and a full line of kids shirts and shorts.  We know there are still very few tournaments and we know your focus may be on anything else but pickleball clothing, but we hope you will like what we’ve been up to and help us by telling your friends.

The new apparel brand is called Unstoppable Pickleball and the reason for the name is simple.  We believe that you, through your tireless efforts to grow pickleball, have made the sport simply UNSTOPPABLE.  
The story behind the new brand name is all about you, Pickleball Nation.

See the full UNSTOPPABLE PICKLEBALL STORY and APPAREL here

And as pickleball comes back to life, whether it’s a Pickleball Rocks purchase or a new Unstoppable Pickleball purchase or simply helping us share the new brand with your family and friends, our sincerest thanks.  

Because as everyone knows, it is because of you that Pickleball Rocks!

#In This Together Pickleball

Healing The World Through Pickleball

In trying times, the sport of pickleball just has a way of bringing people back together again.  The #inthistogether hashtag has become synonymous with healing during the COVID19 pandemic.  But beyond that, we believe we are all in this world and need to work together for the greater good of everyone.  This shirt is just our tiny part to help. 

How To Stay Positive During a Coronavirus Quarantine

Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday, but sometimes it feels like it’s been months since we’ve been able to hang with our friends or play pickleball.

Actually it’s only been a little over a month since I flew home from the USAPA Mid South Regional as president Trump was issuing his initial “15 Day Plan To Slow The Spread” and pickleball tournaments worldwide began to shut down.

I know pickleball is terribly important to us all, and it really is tough to not focus on that loss.  But it is troubling to read some of the online posts about people actually going into mental depression already.  I know some of it is real and some people are truly struggling with the isolation.   But I also believe that a major portion of the “stay inside” gloom and doom could be prevented with the proper attitude and a little bit of positive action.

I don’t know what you are doing with all this new stay at home time, but I have found that the more active I keep myself, the faster the days go by.  And each day brings us a little closer to the eventual end of the isolation.  And trust me, the end is coming.  There are many amazing minds working on new testing techniques and medical technologies and medicines and cures and vaccines.  As they always have in the past, they will come up with the things needed to successfully battle this virus the next time it comes around. 

So what am I doing in the meantime to stay up and positive through it all?

Well, I have had to change the way I approach each day a bit. 
I am now doing three things each and every day to help me personally stay positive.

Number 1) I do at least one thing for our Pickleball Rocks business every day. That may be writing a pickleball article or blog post. I may be creating a Pickleball Rocks Training Academy training video or I might work on a new t-shirt design. So if you have a business that is down, spend a little specific time doing something for it. It may be just working on some creative marketing ideas for when things open back up.
If you are staying home from your job, try to find some small thing you can do that will help you with your job when you go back or find something, just one small thing each day, to do around the house.  Maybe it’s cleaning a floor or rearranging a closet or drawers.  Just actively do one thing each day that you can view as an accomplishment.  A sense of accomplishment is important for all of us.

 

THE SECOND THING that I’m doing a bit different from my normal days?  I pick up the phone and call and talk live to two people a day. I may have a specific reason for the call.  But many times I just reach out to see how someone is doing. It might be a relative. It might be a pickleball player in my contact list.  But I call at least two human beings a day.  It really does help to have a live conversation with a friend. Having that connection is priceless.

 

Then number 3) This one is actually easier when I’m not traveling so much. During this stay at home time, I make absolutely sure I get at least 20 minutes of exercise each and every day.  I know you’ve heard it, but there is just something magical happens right after you exercise.  The adrenaline flows and you just feel great. I’m thankful that Tim Kuss and Scott Moore introduced me to blood flow restriction training last year.  It has allowed me to pack a full workout into a nice compact 20 minutes a day.  Very simple, very easy, but great results. And what a difference it makes in your attitude when you know you’ve accomplished something so meaningful for your own good.

So I do encourage you to get some exercise every day.  Whether it’s something as simple as taking a walk or doing some stretches on the floor, or spending an hour lifting weights, DO SOMETHING TO BE PHYSICALLY ACTIVE. 

For me personally it is a 20 minute light weight workout with the B3 Blood Flow Resistance bands.  Can anyone do it?  I truly believe that just like pickleball, anyone from 9 to 90 can do blood flow resistance training.  If you have any questions about blood flow resistance training, check out this video.
Using light weights or therapy bands, BFR training is simply the best way to exercise I’ve found.  Thanks again Scott and Tim.

Of course, these three things don’t completely fill my day, but they do nicely break it up.
And most importantly they give me something to look forward to each and every day. 
It really is just a little different approach to my days at home.  It works for me and I hope it can work for you too.

I look forward to seeing you all on the courts again soon, but until then Pickleball Nation,
stay active, stay positive and stay safe.

Rocket