As I left my home just after 6 AM and driving to the Palmetto Ridge High School in Naples, FL, the thoughts came back of my first days of school. There were many feelings that went through me and they were back again! Sure enough many of those feelings were not even warranted….but in this case some were.
Paige Mitschele, John Flanagan, Tracy Bowen and I arrived at school at 6:45 AM after a 35 minute drive. The sun was still sleeping on our side of the world! That’s when we discovered it was an outdoor event. We began setting up the two temporary courts on the existing tennis courts along with several practice stations under minimal light.
At 7am the school bell sounds and school has begun…..can’t believe I still get nervous with that sound😊, that’s a whole other story. A few minutes later the doors open and the line of students begins to emerge. Uh oh, we better change our plan! We had 45 seconds to revise our plan…..that’s how long it would take for the students to get on the courts.
Why would you change a plan so quickly you ask? Most classes we have been involved with have 30 to 40 students. After speaking with the three PE teachers that brought the class out, there were roughly 125 students in the first class of the day!
Then the news got better😊….you have 35 minutes to teach them pickleball! Well we did it and even had them playing a game! The rest of the day was a piece of cake, with class sizes of only 90, 80, 70, 70, 40, 80….those are all ish!
Thanks to Paige for many reasons, she had other plans for the second shift but gave that up when we realized the sizes of the classes to support us. Paige’s experience as a special needs teacher and mom was critical to making this work so successfully. She was the leader when recognizing the need to adapt quickly and make the necessary changes.
At the end of the day it was very successful event and pickleball has reached over 550 more people. The school has the equipment to continue and we will be available to work with them on the advancement of the Pickleball program.
Getting the attention of a younger crowd is difficult but thanks to our much younger players that have a passion for this sport like Kyle Yates and Josh and Rachel Elliott, we are able to gain the interest of these future pickleball players by discussing their success in this sport. Keep up the good work we are working on getting you younger competition!
Pickleball For All was in attendance for the Boys and Girls Club breakfast fundraiser. Guest speakers were Krista Fogelsong of Channel 7 news and Molly Fletcher a keynote speaker and sports agent. There were over 200 attendees for this great event. Carol and I met with Sebastien Saitta, Marketing Director and Ron Strong, Athletic Coordinator of the Boys and Girls Club. They are enthusiastic about bringing pickleball to the Boys and Girls Club. More to come!
135 PHYSICAL AND HEALTH EDUCATORS ATTEND PICKLEBALL DEMONSTRATION! Tracy Bowen-Brown – Coordinator of K-12 Health, Physical and Driver Education of Collier County Public Schools, Carol Caefer, Assistant Director – Pickleball For All and Jim Ludwig Executive Director – Pickleball For All, USAPA District Ambassador Southern Tropics, Event Director – US Open Pickleball Championships all worked together to present a 6 step teaching program for the Society of Health and Physical Educators of Florida. The Convention was held at the Tradewinds Resort in St. Petersburg, FL on October 15, 2016.
The teaching module is designed to help educators teach a class of students, in some cases may number up to 60. As we know there are not enough courts in schools to have sixty people play at the same time. Tracy set up a six station teaching program to include court dimensions, rules, serve, the dink shot, basic court play and more advanced play.
We continue to spread the sport of pickleball reaching new worlds all the time!
I recently received the following information regarding a rule change.
To: All Ambassadors
Subject: Paddle and Ball rule changes effective 05/01/2016
At East Naples Community Park, 3500 Thomasson Drive, Naples, FL ……Home of the US Open Pickleball Championships and Southern Tropics – Naples Pickleball Tournament, Monday and Thursday night pickleball has begun! There will be organized play from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the nine pickleball courts on the other side of the outdoor racquetball courts. Call 239-793-4414 for questions…….membership is $25 per year, take advantage of this now as the fee may be going up.
New group of “Pickleballers”……..There was a nice “warm” (90 degrees) welcome for the new addition of pickleball players. Our friends from the Sports Council of Collier County, Mary Shea, President, also of Chartwell Hospitality, Kurt Hoenig, Secretary also of Century 21, Dan Sullivan, Past President, also of Greenlinks Golf Villas of Lely, Tony Meade, Naples Transportation, Mike Balcom, Century 21, and his working colleague Max.
We had friends from Village Walk getting a head start as they are installing new pickleball courts in their community, they were stars on the courts!
Also in attendance were two of our new team of FGCU students Kelly Wilson and Miranda. Their team are working on a fundraising project for Pickleball For All, which will help them complete their requirements at FGCU. STAY TUNED…….More to come on this topic! Kelly’s mom, Gina also came over from Broward County to be part of this clinic!
Special thanks to my wife Carol, brother-in-law Dick, and Nancy Harper, Director of Development, Pickelball For All, for their help with this clinic.
Extra Special thanks to Kyle Yates, our newest member of Pickleball For All Board of Directors (not pictured) for helping get us started. He drove down from Ft. Myers to be part of this and had to leave early for a commitment in Tampa.
Mike Balcom, Century 21, michaelbalcom.c21.com and Kelly Wilson both FGCU students invited Carol and me to a networking event put on by Shane Bailey, Cloud 9 Home Watch, www.cloud9homewatch.net, on Friday September 18, 2015. It was a great event and we were able to connect with several community leaders. We are looking forward to developing relationships with all.
Kelly and a team of FGCU students will be collaborating with Pickleball For All to help increase awareness for a healthier lifestyle. There will be more to come as the project develops! It’s great having young minds and hearts around to work with.
Veteran’s Park has 8 temporary courts right now…..last year at this time there were 4 temporary courts and shortly there after over 100 pickleball players showed up. By January of 2015 there was a need for 4 more temporary courts as 150 players were showing up. By the end of season, April 2015, Dominic Catalano, Director of the program for the pickleball playing participants….say that four times fast…..there are over 250 players and the need for more courts.
Well, the time has come and word on the street is the construction of 8 New permanent pickleball courts will be under construction beginning November 1, 2015 and (I don’t believe it) completed by December 31, 2015! We’ll keep you up to date…..stay tuned.
Dominic has two tournaments planned for this upcoming season The 1st Annual Pickleball Skill Level Turkey Shootout, November 12-13, 2015 and the 2nd Annual I Love Pickleball Skill Level Tournament.
Keep an eye out on this page for updated photo and information. The demolition is complete 9/18/15 and the new concrete poured by next week! It will take 21 days to cure before work can resume on the courts. Stay tuned! Thanks to Captain Jim Smith and Chris Evon for contributing the photo’s.
October 14, 2016 the concrete is being poured! Then 28 days before construction can begin for the 12 new courts!