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Happy 2nd Birthday to Wichita Pickleball

Posted on February 1, 2021 by under Community, Hobbies.    

Happy second anniversary to the Wichita Pickleball facebook group!

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I brought cake to league that night in celebration of our group’s anniversary and also as a belated happy birthday to Tiffany. That night also happened to be “newbie night” for the month of January. The event had a great turnout.

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Check out these pics.

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Since it was Tiffany’s belated birthday, she had the honor of cutting the cake.

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Karen doesn’t like a lot of frosting so she had a very specific request. She wanted a middle piece and, more specifically, the part with the word “ball” on it.

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It’s great to see so many new people being introduced to the sport. Our Facebook group has grown a lot since it started a couple of years ago also. It’s definitely worth celebrating! I can’t wait to see what the future holds. Until next time. GNG.

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Group Fitness Kickoff Event at VASA

Posted on January 15, 2021 by under Community, Events, Health, Zumba.    

I did very little Zumba last year because of the pandemic and other things. By the end of 2019, my addiction to pickleball had reached new heights and I decided that I need to cut back on my Zumba and Aqua Zumba classes to free up more time to play pickleball. I had already given up my Sunday morning Aqua Zumba class at South YMCA (Brynden took it over) and so I started 2020 with only seven classes. I wasn’t going to stop there, though. I had already plans to get rid of other classes, the first one being my Saturday morning Aqua Zumba at VASA Harry. Liz had actually hired someone to take it over for me starting in March.

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I started 2020 with seven classes but I was gradually and systematically getting rid of classes one at a time to make room for pickleball. And then COVID hit. All the gyms closed (along with other local businesses) at the start of the pandemic. So I went from teaching seven classes to none. I guess I didn’t need someone to take over that Aqua Zumba class in March after all because, when March rolled around, there were no classes happening at all. Anywhere.

When the gyms reopened, I brought back only one class — my Monday night Zumba class at VASA Harry. I wanted to be available for pickleball in the evenings and weekends, and play a lot of pickleball is exactly what I did. Over the summer, in addition to playing in the evenings, I was even playing at 5 AM on most weekdays. Pickleball completely ruled my life last year.

But then as fall approached and the sun began to rise later and later, I couldn’t play before work anymore. We were mostly playing at Seneca Park, and we couldn’t play without the sun because there are no lights there (except for the one security light, which isn’t really enough). That’s when I decided to look for other options — enter my Wednesday morning (5:30 AM) Zumba class at VASA Woodlawn. This actually gave me the idea to add more classes. If I know exactly what days of the week I’m devoting to pickleball then I can teach classes on the other days. Seven classes was clearly too much but I could add a few more classes and maintain a good balance. This leads us to where we are today.

Last year I turned down a lot of Zumba events because I fully committed myself to pickleball. I decided this year my time would be split between the two so when the VASA team decided to have a group fitness sampler extravaganza on the first Saturday of the year, January 2, I volunteered to help. I’m really glad I did because it reminded me of how much I enjoy these Zumbathon events.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from that day…

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We had 30-minute sampler sessions of STRONG and the other formats in the studio and held two hours of Zumba in the gym.

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I got to lead a few songs along with my fellow Zumba instructors.

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And I got to see Jessie (above) and Charis (below). I hadn’t seen them in forever.

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Here’s a group pic of some of our Zumba instructors at VASA. Of course, it’s hard to tell who is who because of the masks. Not ideal but necessary given the current situation with COVID. I really can’t get infected right now because I’m still within my 90 days of immunity (some say you could even been immune for up to eight months) but I still wear my mask any time I’m around a group of people mostly for everyone else’s benefit and comfort.

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We didn’t wear our masks while exercising just when we were standing around together. Masks or no masks, social distancing or not, it was a great time. It made me realize how much I love group exercise and participating in these events. I’m glad I decided to devote more time to teaching my group fitness classes in 2021.

Here’s current group fitness schedule:

VASA Harry
Monday – Zumba at 6:30 PM
Wednesday – Aqua Zumba at 6:30 PM
Sunday – Aqua Zumba at 9:00 AM

VASA Woodlawn
Wednesday – Zumba at 5:30 AM
Saturday – Aqua Zumba at 9:00 AM

Seven classes was clearly too many and one was not enough so we’ll see how this balance thing works out with five classes a week this year. Until next time. GNG.

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Dinner at Woodfire Grille

Posted on October 3, 2020 by under Community, Food and Drink.    

We had about 20+ pickleball players and spouses converge at Woodfire Grille at the Kansas Star Casino for a delicious dinner last weekend. The restaurant’s executive chef Jen Reifschneider is a friend and fellow pickleball player and we wanted to support her restaurant. When we first learned that the restaurant had reopened, the ladies and I talked about going to have a girls’ night out. However, the guys wanted to go too so we just opened it up to everyone. We had an amazing turnout!

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Here’s a picture of all the ladies. Karen really wanted to be here too so she made a cutout of her head which I brought to dinner so she could be with us.

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This is a photo of me with Huyen and Debbie.

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Here’s Brian’s attempt at an ultimate selfie. The lighting inside the restaurant was just too dark for this picture to turn out well.

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Here are some pictures of the food we enjoyed that night…

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A few more pictures of our fun group…

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And, of course, we can’t forget Karen.

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Several people stayed to do some gambling after dinner. Brian and I don’t really gamble so I stayed to finish my drink after everyone left and then we just went home after. It was great to finally be out for a nice dinner after being cooped up for so long. We had fabulous company also. Looking forward to doing this again soon. Until then, GNG.

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My Friend Chris Wilson

Posted on August 21, 2020 by under Community, Hobbies, Toys.    

My friend Chris Wilson and I recreated our Wichita Corporate Challenge picture from last year. So much has changed since then. At the time, I was playing with my first big girl pickleball paddle – a Selkirk S1C. I’ve switched to four different paddles since then. I first switched to playing with a Prokennex Pro Speed because I ended up with really bad tennis elbow. Then, when my tennis elbow started to feel better, I let my friend Jon talk me into switching to the Onix Evoke Premier, which is the paddle that local pickleball superstars Lucy Kovalova and Matt Wright use.

Then, all of my friends started playing with the Engage Encore MX 6.0, which is the paddle you see in the pic below. Both Chris and I started playing with it around the same time. Almost everyone in our Friday night pickleball group plays with this exact paddle. I think there are only a couple of people who use different ones.

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Anyway, I’ve since moved on and switched to playing with an Electrum Pro. It’s the first pickleball paddle that I’ve fallen in love with and chosen for myself. All other paddles I’ve ever played with were recommended to me by other friends (Selkirk – Gregg Smith, Prokennex – Jimmy Cho, Onix – Jon Maugans, Engage – Debbie Fanning). The Electrum is the first one that I’ve chosen for myself after demoing. I actually thought I would be the first person to play with one as my regular paddle (Patrick Smith has one – it’s actually the one I demoed – but he wasn’t playing with it because he was still playing with his Engage) in town but my dad actually beat me to it. Dad bough and got his Electrum Pro about a week before me.

Back to Chris Wilson. I met him at Paul Haas’ (another pickleball friend) church about a year and a half ago. I had no idea that he and Paul both worked for Evergy (Westar Energy at the time) until Paul actually retired. Anyway, I was looking for a partner for the pickleball tournament portion of the Wichita Corporate Challenge and I was going to ask Paul at first and then Paul told me that Chris also works for our company. Unlike Paul, he isn’t retired, so the two of us teamed up.

Anyway, Chris is a really good pickleball player. When I first started playing, I was mostly playing at the West YMCA with a bunch of beginners. There were some better players but then they started not coming around. I found out later they were playing at the the West Heights United Methodist Church (Paul’s church) down the street instead. It was like a secret place. It wasn’t published on the USA Pickleball Places2Play site. You just kind of had to know about it either through a friend or you were invited. I remember being so excited when I finally found the church.

I met Chris on my first time there. I was still very much a beginner so everyone was so much better than me. My friend Gregg Smith, who I know through Brian (because he is an Edward Jones client), paired me with who he said was “the best player” there on my very first game, and that “best player” he gave me was Chris. I think our first game was me and Chris vs. Gregg and another guy. I was a newbie who needed some “babysitting” so I was grateful to have Chris as my partner.

A few months later, Chris asked me if I would play with him in a tournament. I was so flattered that he thought I was good enough to play with him until I found out it was a pickleball tournament for senior citizens. And then I wasn’t sure if I should feel insulted that he thought I would be old enough to play in it.

Another funny story I have about Chris happened a few weeks ago. We have been playing in some recreational (but still somewhat competitive) mixed doubles at the park on Sunday mornings. The first time we did this format, I played with my friend Michael Cheung who I have played with in past leagues and tournaments. Jimmy Cho, who organizes this play, makes it Sadie Hawkins dance style where the girls ask guys to be their partner. I assumed we were picking partners from “Jimmy’s boys,” a group of mostly Asian guys who Jimmy has been training and mentoring. Anyway, I noticed that other people invited non-Asian guys to be their partner so I decided that I would invite the best player I know for the following weekend and texted Chris Wilson.

Anyway, he immediately replied back that he was already playing with Kim Knotts. About that same time, I saw that Kim replied to the group chat with the ladies that she is playing with Chris as her partner. It was understandable as the two of them have been playing in tournaments together so it only makes sense that they would want to continue to team up even for rec play so that they can have lots of practice. But, not to be outdone, I decided to ask another really good player who also happens to be left handed same as Chris.

When Chris turned me down and I found another partner, I texted him back saying that I found another lefty to play with me. Well, we have a famous lefty in town, Cody Courter, who is super amazing. So he texted back and asked if I was bringing Cody. I didn’t reply because I wanted him to chew on that little niblet for a bit. I also wanted the element of surprise.

That Sunday I played with Tom Pham, another great pickleball player who happens to be a lefty. Tom is amazing and we did really well that day. I might not have brought Cody but I got the next best thing. LOL. Tom and I have since teamed up for mixed competitive league at Chicken N Pickle on Thursday nights and are also doing well in that league.

There are several guys who are really good and super fun to play with and I am grateful that they are willing to play with me. Kim has Chris pretty much on lock but I did get to play mixed doubles with Chris some over the summer. And, I also get to play with (and against) him every week in our normal Friday night group at Nahola that Debbie organizes.

One last little story about Chris. I’ve gotten a lot better at pickleball since the very first time we met and don’t really need much “babysitting” anymore. Whenever Chris and I play together, he actually lets me handle things instead of taking my shots to help me out. Anyway, he’s noticed that I actually play better against him than with him and he’s made a comment about it a couple of times.

After one particularly good game where me and my partner beat him and his partner he asked, “How come you don’t play like that when you’re playing with me?” I think I revert back to “beginner Ching” when we play together and still want him to do some “babysitting” because in my mind I think he is amazing and his shots are going to be way better than mine so I end up not taking shots I should be taking and just expect him to take care of everything.

For instance, I’ve gotten a lot better at chasing down lobs and he’s seen how much progress I’ve had in this area so then we get lobbed he expects me to “handle” it whereas before when we first started playing he would have to chase all of them down (because I simply did not have the skills to deal with them properly). So now that he knows I am capable he expects me to take these but in my mind I’m still thinking he will take care of these. I don’t think I have this same mental challenges when I’m playing with other guys who didn’t know me as a beginner. And I think this is why I seem to play much better when I’m playing with other people. Because I don’t expect them to “babysit” me like does.

Anyway, that’s pretty much my Chris Wilson stories. It’s Friday and that means we’re playing tonight. I am so excited! I love Fridays because I get to play pickleball for four hours nonstop. Until next time. GNG.

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Weekend Recap

Posted on July 28, 2020 by under Community, Hobbies.    

Besides the Jonny Pickleball Show at Chicken N Pickle on Friday, there was lots of pickleball that happened over the weekend. We had our Saturday morning Queen of Court play from 7:30 AM to 10:00 AM and then we had another weekend of “pool pickleball” at Brooke’s house.

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I debuted a new outfit from Sofibella’s “Love at First Serve” line. I mostly got it because I saw that my friend Regina got it and I always try to get the same stuff so we can twin in the off chance that we happen to be at the same place at the same time… One of these days.

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Our Fil-Am Pickleball Association (FAPA) shirts finally arrived (after months of waiting – stinking COVID) and so I got those delivered to mom and dad (on Saturday morning) and my friend Tom (on Sunday afternoon).

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I delivered the shirt this weekend to everyone this weekend.

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I normally play mixed at Edgemoor Park on Sundays but I decided to skip it weekend because my friend Steve wanted to play. I hadn’t played with him in forever so I chose him over early morning mixed play. We decided that we would go check out the noon open play at Nahola and just see who would be there. Nahola made sense because after almost a month of no lessons with Chris because he’s been super busy, I was supposed to have a lesson (finally) with him on Sunday at ten o’clock. Anyway, Steve asked Chris if he could stay and play with us after my lesson so we could start at eleven. Karen agreed to come to Nahola at eleven also, so that we would have exactly four players. But then Chris had the brilliant idea to just play for a couple of hours if I was okay with skipping my lesson again. I love my lesson time with Chris but it’s not everyday that you get to play with him so it was a no-brainer. So then the four of us agreed to meet at Nahola at 10 AM for two hours of play before the noon open play on Sunday.

It was a great plan until Chris was invited to play with the out of town pros on Sunday morning at Chicken N Pickle so then Chris was like, “Could we play at Chicken N Pickle from 11 AM to 1 PM instead?” I had no problem relocating our game to CNP. It was actually more convenient because it’s closer to my house. Steve lives on the East side too and then Karen was coming from Edgemoor so it was actually better all the way around. Anyway, it was super nice of Chris to accommodate our group instead of canceling since he was already playing for a couple of hours this morning. If people wonder why he is my absolute favorite (above the handsome Patrick Smith), this is why. He is just super nice.

It is such a treat to play with Chris. He is so fun and at the same time so amazing. I’m always left in awe. The only downside about playing with him is that I often find myself just spectating and admiring his awesome shots so, instead of playing well, I end up playing terrible.

I went to Seneca Park later that day to deliver Tom’s FAPA shirt. I wasn’t going to stay originally because I don’t really go to open play at the park these days but I think I wanted to make myself feel better. I mean, I’m pretty decent at pickleball. It’s just that I’ve been playing with some really great players lately so I suck by comparison. I’m pretty good against regular players. And I’m not just saying that because I’m biased. I have actually gotten a lot better.

Anyway, besides Tom, Paul, Becci, Bruce, Roger, Greg, and Bob (McAuley) were there so, even though there were several newbies, we still had some decent games. I had quit going to the park because of the disparate beginner to intermediate player ratio. But Paul, who I haven’t played with in what seems like forever because of his knee surgery, was there so it made it totally worth it. I had fun playing. So much fun that I completely forgot all about my folding chair when I left. I went back to the park last night to see if it was still there. No such luck.

However, I did meet some new pickleball players. Bob happened to be there so I got a game in before my Zumba class. The best part is I hit an ATP (around the post shot) for game point thanks to an assist from Bob. It was really cool. I’ve hit a few ATPs now and that was the most comfortable and natural one I’ve ever hit. I think it helps when I’m playing with newer players because the pace of the game is so much slower. I am so used to playing with people better than me now that when I play with newer players the ball seems to go in slow motion.

Bob has been playing a long time (longer than me even) so his shots aren’t slow. They’re actually pretty good but Jason, the player directly across from me at the time is a beginner, so I think that’s why I wasn’t super stressed about hitting that ATP. It was like, Bam! No biggie. LOL. The fact that it was the game winning point was icing on the cake. What a way to finish!

Anyway, that’s pretty much your weekend (plus Monday) recap. Until next time. GNG.

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