Court Connections: April Generations Unite

by Kelly Frazier on Apr 12, 2024

Court Connections: April Generations Unite

Welcome to April's edition of Court Connections, where we celebrate the theme of 'Generations Unite.' This month, we've been deeply moved by the stories of families, friends, and communities coming together on the pickleball court, bridging generational divides and creating lasting bonds. From grandparents teaching their grandchildren to seasoned players partnering with newcomers, the spirit of unity and inclusivity shines bright in every tale. Join us as we dive into these heartwarming stories of connection and camaraderie that define the essence of April's theme.

For years my wife and I chauffeured our four children to their numerous sporting events - practices, games, weekend tournaments, etc. Throughout those years, we had to mostly put our interests aside to support their passions. Fast forward to 2020 - our kids in their early twenties. It was time to reengage in our passions, while including all our family members. Pickleball was the gateway to make that happen. As a former tennis player and coach, pickleball was a natural fit. Our family has embraced the sport. The more we played together, the more we wanted to play more. Pickleball is the "great connector." It has the ability to connect multi-generations to participate. Our pickleball "family" has grown over the past four years. Our network includes players from early teens to their 70's. And, in the end, my wife and I are no longer spectators in our children's endeavors, but we are equal participants playing along side them with their friends, siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles. And, on one rare occasion, with their 87 year old nana. Pickleball is truly the great connector and community builder. (Picture of our July 4th family pickleball tournament).

- Bob Driver 

As I get older and more injury prone it's getting harder to find sports my son and I can play together. He started going with me to parks to play pickleball and now begs me to play all the time. He loves all aspects of the game and enjoys watching it as well. Recently we played in a small mini game with Jessie Irvine and also attended the PPA tournament in North Carolina. It's nice to fund a activity we can play together for the rest of our lives.

- Kevin Frank

My family started playing pickleball during covid. My youngest son, then 11, took to it very quickly. As the parks started to open up, we started going to our nearby courts. I noticed a change in my son, Wil, right away. He had always been very shy. Pickleball brought him out of his shell! He quickly discovered he did not want to play with him mom and dad anymore, and began talking to people at the courts. He suddenly was confident in talking about pickleball, asking others to play and laughing with other kids, adults and seniors! Now, three years later, no one would believe Wil was ever shy. He has friends ages 8-80! The fact that pickleball has no limits when it comes to age is the single best part of it! I love to watch older people give Wil advice (that he listens to more than he listens to us!). I love to see Wil out there coaching younger kids. I love to see him playing with middle-aged men, observing how to be a great player and person! Our pickleball community has become central to our life- so thankful for everyone we have met! Attached is a picture of our community in Wil’s 14th birthday party! Not your traditional teens party!

- Katie Shaffer

My son (25) and I (65) in January of 2023 decided to take on a healthier lifestyle. Eating better, and exercise. So starting in 1/2023 my son, my wife and I joined the park district health club and lifted free weights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. My son being a former college football player knew his way around a weight room and curated our daily workouts. At the health club we noticed people playing pickleball and thought why not give it a try. We bought a pair of paddles and started joining in after lifting and it became an almost everyday obsession. We were hooked. Fast forward a year, we have as a family collectively lost 200lbs and my son and I have progressively moved from beginner to a 4.0 players. Joined a local pickleball club and have played in several tournaments together and play year round. It is such a pleasure to be able to spend time with each other and be very competitive as a team and against each other. As a father, this is special time and I am so grateful to have discovered this wonderful sport. We are working on getting my wife to join in as well.

- Dennis Papiernik

For starters, I’m in my early ‘80s and have been pickling for over ten years. I live in South Lake Tahoe, so all our wintertime pickleball is played in our local recreation center. There are only two courts, so there’s a lot of court sharing going on. Not long ago, ten firefighters showed up for, physical training, also called “pickleball.” Before long, my 70+ year-old partner and I found ourselves in a heated match with two testosterone-burnin’, ball-bangin’ under-30 dudes. Though we had our hands full, we dug deep and taught them a lesson or two. After the thumpin’, they sauntered back to their fellow firefighters. Someone must’ve asked, “How’d you do?” because we heard all the way across the gym, “How’d we do? WE JUST GOT OUR BUTTS KICKED BY A COUPLE OF GERIATRICS!” I couldn’t resist and called back, “Hey, we may be old, but our hearing’s good.” All ten of them cracked up with laughter. Since then, we’ve had other matches and have even let these young dudes win a game or two. And we always wind up with smiles all the way around. Is this game fun, or what?

- Jim Barr

I learned to play pickleball when my Pastor, Dr. Bob Laurent invited me to the courts. At the time he was 74 and had just undergone double knee replacement 6 months prior. Of course I thought, I will “take it easy on him.” He and his partner smoked us every single game. We didn’t win one match. The best part was learning how to dink and third shot drop. He was a master. I’m pretty sure he created the Nasty Nelson and Body Bag, because he would straight take people out! A saint off the court, a savage on it.

- Ryan Blasko

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April Prize Package Brought to you by Engage Pickleball

  • 2 Engage Paddles (winners choice)
  • 100 pack of Neon Tour Pickleballs
  • 2 Engage Tour Backpacks

As we wrap up April's Court Connections, we're reminded of the profound impact that pickleball has in bringing people together across generations. Whether it's sharing a love for the game with family members or forging new friendships on the court, the bonds formed through pickleball are truly special. As we look ahead, let's continue to embrace the spirit of unity and inclusivity that defines our pickleball community. Stay tuned for more inspiring stories and connections in the months to come. Until then, keep playing, keep connecting, and keep spreading the pickleball love!