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Independence Day Cookout

Posted on July 11, 2020 by under Life.    

We’ve had a couple of impromptu cookouts at Seneca Park in the last month but nothing in magnitude compared to the one that Matt threw on 4th of July weekend. The first time we joined Jimmy and the guys for a cookout, I think we just kind of invited ourselves. Well, Jimmy told Karen about it and, since I was playing mixed doubles with Karen that morning, she invited it me.

It was the weekend of Chris Wilson’s birthday and, since we were playing together, I brought him his favorite donuts (apple fritter donuts) from Krispy Kreme. Anyway, I brought extras because I figured we’d be sharing with the guys. Seneca Park was super busy that morning so we couldn’t even play there. Karen, Chris, Rick, and I had to relocate our mixed doubles to Aley Park down the street. There are no nets there so it gave me a reason to break in my portable pickleball net.

After we finished playing, we went to Seneca Park to meet up with Jimmy and the guys. They hadn’t started cooking yet but had me concerned because instead of a grill, they had a wok and a burner. I ended up interrupting Brian’s gaming that day because I asked him to bring the portable grill out. When we had another cookout again the following weekend, Jimmy knew to give me a heads up about borrowing the portable grill. LOL.

Anyway, those cookouts were basically just warm ups for the one that Matt organized last Friday. I was worried because Friday also happened to be the first day of the new mandatory mask mandate. It turned out pretty well, though. My college friend Brandi Richardson even came out. Here are some pics…

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Jimmy came to join us after he finished his pickleball lesson at Riverside Tennis Center. We had a wonderful turnout. All six courts were used and part of the group rotation. There were lots of familiar faces but also new ones.

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We had so many people waiting that we didn’t have enough room on the paddle holders. The paddles actually overflowed and we just propped them on the chain link fence. I think this may be the biggest group we’ve had to date.

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Here are a few pictures of the players in action.

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As you know, my friend Karen and I like to twin, so she got us matching tutus. We looked super festive!

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I’m so glad Mother Nature cooperated. It turned out to be a beautiful day, perfect for a fun cookout and pickleball. Matt always does such a great job of organizing these things. Until next time. GNG.

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Going Back to Normal, Kind Of

Posted on July 10, 2020 by under Life.    

Before the pandemic, I’d started gradually giving up some of my group exercises classes to free up more time for pickleball. When COVID happened, everything came to a screeching halt. All the gyms closed and I even quick playing pickleball during the lockdown (stay at home period). Some of my friends didn’t quit playing but I followed the rules and really buckled down. I started doing ZOOMba (that is, Zumba via the ZOOM platform) just to keep myself sane.

Of course, I had to quit offering ZOOMba once the stay at home order was lifted and we could go out again because then I could rejoin my pickleball-playing friends at the park. When the gyms reopened in June, I really wasn’t eager to reclaim my crazy busy Zumba schedule so I only took on Monday nights at VASA. It was and has always been my all-time favorite day to workout because if my schedule works out well, then I can attend STRONG with Liz at 5:30 PM before teaching my 6:30 PM Zumba class and make it a double.

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Anyway, I’m so glad to be back. I’ve missed my gym family so much. And, in case you were worried about exposure, our classes at VASA have always been really small so there’s plenty of room for social distancing. Liz and I would love to see everyone do doubles with us on Monday. If we stay for Jamey’s express yoga class after, we could even make it a triple! Oh, yeah!

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Until next time. GNG.

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Ching is Now a USAPA Ambassador

Posted on July 8, 2020 by under Community, Hobbies.    

I did a thing last month. My friend Jeanie encouraged me to apply to become a USAPA ambassador for our area. They must have been in dire need because it happened very quickly. Less than a week after I submitted my application, I was approved. My friend and co-ambasssador for Wichita Gregg Smith actually found out about my becoming a USAPA ambassador before I did.

The move made perfect sense because I’d already been playing pickleball for over a year and I was completely hooked. I even got Brian to gift me with a lifetime membership to USAPA for Christmas last year. I am fully committed to supporting the organization that represents and promotes the sport. I was already sharing my love for pickleball with everyone, welcome or not. I was already an evangelist even before being anointed with an ambassadorship.

The only surprise really was why I took so long to apply. It’s a great fit from the start and, I suppose the USAPA organization saw it too, because they approved my application super quickly.

The current ambassadors for our area are:
Wichita – Gregg Smith
Mulvane – Cameron Tucker
El Dorado – Jeanie Ferguson
Topeka – Eldonna Coats

Eldonna is also our district ambassador, so basically she is the leader of all the ambassadors in our district. I had the opportunity to meet her for the first when she came to visit Wichita a couple of weeks ago.

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Group photo (from left): Cameron, Eldonna, Jeanie, and Ching.

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I already knew Cameron and Jeanie but it was nice to get together with fellow ambassadors. I had a blast playing with them. The only person we missed was Gregg, who was golfing in Manhattan that day couldn’t make it — but I’m hoping this won’t be the last time we all get together.

That’s all for now. Until next time. GNG.

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Karen’s Birthday Treat

Posted on July 6, 2020 by under Food and Drink.    

I wanted to do something special for my friend Karen’s birthday so I scheduled a partner lesson with the magnificent Chris Heck, my all-time favorite pickleball instructor/coach. Karen’s birthday was actually on Sunday, June 14, but we were in Eureka Springs that weekend celebrating Brian’s birthday.

However, I took Thursday and Friday (June 18-19) off work that week that week because of the Ben Johns clinics at Chicken N Pickle so I set aside Friday to celebrate with Karen. I scheduled our partner lesson at Nahola and then we went to have brunch at Riverside Cafe after.

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Of course we had to take a photo with our handsome instructor. The funny part is that even kneeling, Chris is almost taller than me. He is so tall! But that’s not the funniest part. The funniest part is that the first time we took this photo, Karen had her sign flipped around so it said “I love PAT SMI” instead.

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PAT SMI is Patrick Smith, the handsome German half of #TeamModel. I posted about him and his French partner Jocelyn Devilliers a few weeks ago. Pat thought it was hilarious but I don’t think Chris was amused. LOL.

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Here are some pictures of our hearty breakfast at Riverside Cafe.

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Karen gave the food two thumbs up.

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Karen’s pancake was bigger than her head.

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Later that night, after my normal Friday night pickleball at Nahola, Karen and I met up again at Chicken N Pickle. We were hoping to catch the pros while they played but we were too late. They were already done by the time we got there.

Anyway, I ended up buying her a birthday knotty cherry and we hung out on the rooftop deck. I had no idea they had a live DJ at Chicken N Pickle on weekends. We had a blast hanging out. I basically started and ended the day with my lovely friend. So glad we got to celebrate together. Until next time. GNG.

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Ben Johns Clinic at Chicken N Pickle

Posted on July 5, 2020 by under Hobbies.    

Here are some pictures from the Ben Johns clinic at Chicken N Pickle a couple of weeks ago. I decided to take time off work to do the clinics because I had a lot of vacation time still available to use this year after we’d had to cancel a couple of trips. I took Thursday and Friday off that week.

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This is our group photo from our intermediate clinic in the morning. Our group consisted of Beth, Margaret, Wanda, Debbi, Tommy, Brooke, Kim, and me.

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Tommy, who celebrated his birthday that day, and Debbi both completed the intermediate clinic with us that morning.

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Here are a few pictures from our clinic that morning.

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After a little break for lunch and an outfit change, I participated in the advanced clinic with my friends Jarred, Kimberly, Tiffany, Amy, Matt, and Karen. There was only one person in our session who I hadn’t met before.

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Karen was brilliant and got some individual coaching.

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Of course, we had to get a photo with Ben.

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That night there was a Team Ben and Team Matt exhibition, and we got to watch two hours of amazing pickleball. Ron Ponder and his friend reffed matches between the pros (from left) — Jocelyn Devilliers, Patrick Smith, Matt Wright, Lucy Kovalova, Chris Heck, Ben Johns, Altaf Merchant, and Collin Johns (not pictured). Collin didn’t make the group photo because he was walking his grandmother to her car at the end of the event. How sweet is that?!

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Here’s a better group photo from my friend Debbie’s phone.

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Brian came out to livestream the event. He was a little stressed out because, even after we tested everything two days before, when we got to Chicken N Pickle, nothing worked. Good thing we got there early so Brian could implement plan B — using his MacBook. It all turned out okay but Brian was stressed out nonetheless.

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Here’s Debbie and Jenny with the “Don’t Miss!” sign that we made for Chris Heck. It is his #1 rule.

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Debbie with a new friend she made holding the “Team Lucy Kovalova” sign.

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Debbie with the KaChing sign. KaChing is the team name that Karen and I use whenever we are playing together.

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Debbie holding an “I Love Ben Johns” and “I Love Lucy” sign. She did a much better job of taking pictures with my signs than I did.

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We got a fun group photo with Lucy at the end of the evening — (from left) Kelli, Krista, Lucy, Debbie, me, and Karen.

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That whole day was so fun. I got to spend the day learning from Ben Johns and then got to watch some amazing matches during the exhibition. It’s a day I won’t soon forget. I can’t wait until the next one!

P.S. Here’s a link to the video of the Q&A and exhibition matches in case you want to watch them. Enjoy!

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