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Archive for "Hobbies"

Making New Friends

Posted on July 23, 2021 by under Community, Hobbies.    

My morning pickleball play group recently hit an all time high. We broke records this morning when we had enough players for all six courts at Edgemoor. Actually, there were 24 confirmed players and, at one point, we had two more in the waiting list.

When I started my early morning play last year, I never imagined that there would be this many people wanting to get up super early to play. I thought I would be lucky to get three others to play with me. Last year we often did get eight players but never in my wildest dreams did I think that I could fill up all six courts at the park.

Morning play has not been without its challenges…

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Play last year at Seneca Park went relatively smoothly but this year our group grew to an average of 8-12 players and some of the players at the park didn’t understand. Because we would often run past the 7 AM hour, even though there were empty courts, they felt like they should be able to rotate in. The challenge with that is because we play a ladder or king of court format, we need an even group of players so we can’t just have random people joining and leaving. There has to be a set number of players for a specific period of time.

First, people complained that I was hosting “private” play at our public parks but, honestly, the only reason that it was private was I was mainly only inviting the people who I knew were open to playing that early in the morning. Since people complained about the games being “private,” I decided to open them up to everyone on Playtime Scheduler. But even that wasn’t sufficient. Please were still unhappy that we were playing at the park. Probably because we were having such a good time and they weren’t because they had to wait for games to finish because they didn’t have an even number of people? Who knows?

Anyway, making the play public is when things really exploded. We ended up with an average of 12 players and sometimes 16. This morning, we hit a record-high of 24 (although I did have three no-shows so we really could only fill five of the courts — which worked out because there was a group of ladies that showed up and they needed the remaining court and, had everyone who wanted to play shown up, there would not have been an empty court for these ladies to use).

Since making the games public, I have met so many new people who I have never met or played with before. Y’all know how much I love meeting new people so I’ve just been eating it up. And then sometimes you meet someone so amazing that you just want to be part of their growth.

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EXHIBIT A: Tony Mathews (left) with me and Cameron Tucker and Tyler Smith (in the matching shirts)

This picture was taken at the Wichita Metro Crime Commission benefit tournament at Chicken N Pickle last Sunday, July 18. I had only met Tony a couple of days before but the morning that we met was the same day that I found out from Erica that she couldn’t play with me in the tournament. Tony just happened to be at the right place at the right time and I had a lot of fun playing with him that morning, so I invited him to play in Erica’s place and, as luck would have it, he just happened to be available. It turned out to be a good thing too because he raise way more money for our team than I did.

Anyway, Tony is going to be amazing. He’s only been playing pickleball for two months and he is already really good. It won’t take much to get him to the highest level. I expect his progress to be a lot like Meredith’s, where she basically learned to play the game and within months was competing with highly skilled players.

I’m going to get on Tony’s good side now so that, when he hits the big time, I can say I knew him when. LOL.

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On Monday morning, I had the opportunity to meet and play with a young man from Hutchinson, Kansas named Bo Tolbert. This guy is amazing and so much fun to play with. He was looking at getting some pickleball instructor certifications but most of the programs require you to be 21 or over so he can’t do it until next year.

This kid is going to be on his way up, too. He’s a great player now and I can tell that he’s still growing and has the potential to get even better.

Now that I’ve been playing pickleball for a couple of years, I’ve met all sorts of people — all ages, genders, race, people from various backgrounds. I’ve been people who have been playing a long time and others who have only recently picked up the game. I’ve met a lot of players who started playing and immediately got really good (Cody and Meredith) and others who have taken some time to develop their game and others who are still at the same skill level as when I met them a couple of years ago (and there’s nothing wrong with that — some people are content to play with their same play groups and don’t desire to play in tournaments so once they get to a certain level there is no longer that same need or drive to improve).

I am particularly enviously of people who pick up the sport and are instantly amazing at it (ex-tennis players and other really athletic people whose previous sports backgrounds translate well to pickleball) because my progress has been long and arduous and slow as molasses. However, I try to remind myself that it’s not a race. Some people will get there first and some people get there later but, if the desire is there, they do get there eventually. I think the key is to continue to make progress and I feel like that’s what I’m doing. Every day that I play I feel like I am better than the time before. I may not be exponentially better but even the slightest bit of improvement is progress.

So anyway, I’m just going to keep on truckin’ and eventually maybe I’ll wake up and all of a sudden I’m awesome. Ha! Not likely to happen but that won’t stop me from trying. Until next time, GNG.

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A Day with Lauren and Pat

Posted on July 17, 2021 by under Hobbies, Travel.    

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend Lauren Stratman and Patrick Smith’s pickleball clinic at held at the Oklahoma City Chicken N Pickle this week.

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Lesli Toubassi, Will Williams, Bill Schantz, Dan Harris, Barbara Clark and I all made the trip. We got to ride in the fancy schmancy Chicken N Pickle van, which is actually super nice and roomy. The van has tall ceilings. I can stand up all the way and not reach the top. All 6’7″ of Michael Harris almost fits.

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The Oklahoma City location is a lot like the Wichita one. They are all very similar really with slight variations to the layout.

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I do prefer the court configuration in Wichita but the covered outdoor courts at the OKC location are quite nice. Specially on a hot, sunny day.

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Here are some snaps I took during the clinic.

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We also took a group photo.

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And some fun photos like this Pat sandwich one.

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And one with both Lauren and Pat.

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There wasn’t really anything new or earth-shattering at the clinic. Much of what we covered were things I had learned or heard from other people already but we did have some super fun drills. I recommend doing these clinics with your doubles partner or a friend so you can learn the drills together and can do them regularly days and weeks and months following the clinic.

It was such an awesome day and I am beyond grateful that I got to participate in it. Until next time, GNG.

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Pretty Picklers Podcast

Posted on July 10, 2021 by under Hobbies.    

A few months ago I had a phone chat with my friend Kerry Shannon, founder of the Pretty Picklers, which we recorded for her Pretty Picklers podcast. That episode finally aired. You can check it out here.

I met Kerry when I played in the APP Delray Beach Open tournament earlier this year. I didn’t have a partner and so I reached out to her. She replied and we immediately clicked. We are alike in so many ways. I’m so glad we met.

I really didn’t know much about the Pretty Picklers before I met Kerry. I think it’s so awesome that she started this group. Not only are they having fun playing pickleball but these ladies are also making a difference in the community.

Kerry also continues to come up with new ideas and new partnerships and I absolutely love that she started a podcast this year. It’s so cool. She’s had some really amazing people as guests and I am completely honored to have been part of it.

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Fun Pictures from Great Plains Regionals

Posted on July 3, 2021 by under Hobbies, Travel.    

Here are some fun pictures I took at Great Plains Regionals last weekend. Friday was women’s doubles day.

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Here’s a pic of Eldonna and her sister Theresa.

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Janelle and Karen = Fireball X5.

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They won gold in the women’s doubles 3.5 35+ event.

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With my partner Kimberly.

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Kimberly and I earned silver in the women’s doubles 3.0 35+ but there is no golden ticket for second place. We still had a lot of fun, though.

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Kimberly and me with (from left) Chandi, Michelle, Sharon, and Kim.

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Chandi and Kim won gold in the women’s doubles 4.0 50+ event.

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Saturday was mixed doubles day. There were so many rain delays and they sent so many confusing emails that my partner Ryan and I almost forfeited our first match.

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Mixed day was a bit of a bust except for Michelle and Ramon winning gold in 3.5 35+ and Dave and Lori (#TeamBelew) winning gold in 4.5 50+.

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Speaking of rain delays, this was Brian pretty much all weekend. On mixed day, it was both wet and cold. Thankfully, Michael brought a nice cozy blanket.

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This pic actually remind me of the pic below from St. Louis. At least Brian is smiling in the above photo. Maybe because we are in Colorado. Just kidding!

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Anyway, we stayed for Kimberly and Eric’s mixed doubles event. I think they were the last ones in our group who were still playing late in the afternoon.

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Although mixed was a bust, we did meet this nice lady Natalie. She shared her wonderful booze with us.

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I got a vodka and soda drink while the guys got some unique beers. Natalie had a great beer selection. She was super nice and told us to help ourselves to the cooler.

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Anyway, it took quite a bit of convincing to get the guys to move over to the courts where Kimberly and Eric were playing because the guys didn’t want to venture away from the cooler full of booze.

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The funny thing is, we had talked about going to the liquor store to buy some booze but then we weren’t sure what the rules were on that with us being at a public park and a college campus. I guess we were meant to have some court-side drinks because the universe brought Natalie and her booze cooler into our lives.

Sunday was men’s doubles day. Since I wasn’t playing, Brian and I spent most of the day sight seeing. We did go back to watch some men’s doubles action later in the day when we found out that Matt (Conrad) and Dave (Belew) were still playing. They would have been finished a lot sooner but there were, once again, multiple rain delays that day.

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Monday was men’s and women’s singles day. I ended up taking silver in 3.0 35+. The Canadian lady Pam, who got silver in 3.5 35+ with her husband, ended up beating me. There were six of us in our pool so we were playing a round robin format of one game to 15, win by two (which actually is better for me because singles is a lot of work and best 2 of 3 games to 11 is killer). After four rounds of play, Pam and I were both undefeated. She was my final match.

It was kind of like a championship match, I guess, because whichever one of us won that match would take the gold medal and the other would take the silver. She was way better than me. It wasn’t even a case of I just made more unforced errors than she did, her shots were better – period. She was way better than all of us in that bracket skill-wise.

In hindsight, I wish that I would have played 3.0 19+ because the girl who won gold (Christina) was someone I had beaten in Arizona earlier this year (11-6, 11-2). She got bronze and I got silver. There were only two girls signed up for 3.0 19+ so even though she was 35+ she played in the 19+ bracket. Super smart. Since there’s only three of them competing, everyone was guaranteed a medal. I kinda wish I would have done the same and switched to 19+ also, but then I had no idea I would run into Pam. I feel like I am a pretty good contender in 3.0 35+. I just get really unlucky that I am constantly running into players who are better than me.

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I’m going to get a gold medal at one of these big tournaments one of these days. But for now, I suppose I’ll just have to settle for silver.

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Speaking of medals, Brian and I finally got tired for hanging them on our stair post and ordered me a display hanger off Amazon. It looks puny right now because there aren’t many medals hanging on it but once it’s filled up I’ll take a pic and post it.

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I had a tournament pretty much every weekend last month. I’m taking a break this month and maybe only doing a couple of charity ones. Until next time. GNG.

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Picklemania MMXXI

Posted on July 1, 2021 by under Community, Events, Hobbies.    

My Rotary club held our first pickleball fundraising tournament a couple of weeks ago at Terradyne Country Club and it was a huge success. We had a goal of 64 players (32 teams) and we actually had 70 players sign up.

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Here are some pictures from the tournament.

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Rotarians 1

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We had eight courts for the tournament so we had two brackets going in the morning and also two brackets in the afternoon. In the morning, we had a competitive bracket and also an all women’s bracket.

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I loved how some of the ladies wore matching outfits like Michelle Pease and Lesli Toubassi (aka Tou Pease in a Pod).

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Karen Fox and Jody Vinson (aka Drop It Like It’s Hot) won the women’s bracket.

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As you can tell, we love our Electrum paddles.

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After a long championship battle against Kim Knotts and Chris Heck (aka FSU) that ran all the way past lunch, Lori and Dave Belew (aka Notorious D.I.N.K.) won the competitive bracket in the morning.

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My friend Erica and I won our bracket in the afternoon, which felt a little silly to me. I think I won’t play in the future. Mostly I signed up because I wasn’t sure if we could get enough players.

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Erica and I wore our matching BIA shoes for Steve. LOL.

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Mike Ellison and Adam Korfhage (aka Mike and Adam) won the all men’s doubles bracket in the afternoon.

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I am so grateful to everyone who played, volunteered, and came out to support our event. I’m look forward to making this an annual fundraising event for our club.

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