Never played sports, now a pickleball Ambassador

Never played sports, now a pickleball Ambassador

May 29, 2018 0 Comments

If you’ve played in pickleball tournaments, then you probably know about the USAPA Ambassadors.  They’re 1,700 strong, spread across the USA into 11 regions. 

When they’re not volunteering at tournaments they are:

  • Promoting the sport
  • Soliciting their communities to build new courts or modify existing tennis courts
  • Adding new courts to the USAPA’s Places2Play program (http://www.places2play.org)
  • Teaching new players how to play pickleball and much more

Gary Gossett, USAPA Ambassador for Simi Valley, CA, located about an hour northwest of LA, didn’t play sports growing up.  His Dad thought watching sports on TV was a waste of time and put his kids to work. 

(What time is college bowling on ESPN 4 tonight?)

How does someone that didn’t play sports growing up become a USAPA Ambassador at age 67?  A woman of course.  Gary’s wife, Pippa, played tennis for years and about 4 years ago received a flyer in the mail from the Parks & Rec department about a new sport being played at their rec center.  The flyer said Pickleball is open to any residents age 50 or older.  (Really?)

Not being 50, she held onto the flyer but kept playing tennis.  About a year later, Gary took Pippa to a picnic lunch next to the tennis courts for her 50th birthday.  While sipping champagne and smelling the roses Gary brought, a passerby commented on their romantic lunch.  As they were talking they noticed their new friend was carrying an odd-looking tennis racquet. 

Gary: “Where are you going?”

New friend: “To play pickleball”

Pippa: “Really?  I turned 50 today, so I guess I can play”

New friend: “Huh?”

Gary and Pippa stuck their heads in the fence of the courts and both were sold.  They immediately bought wooden paddles and started playing.  After a few months, they were playing daily and upgraded to graphite paddles.

Like many players, Gary’s love of pickleball went from 0 to 100 almost overnight:

  • He introduced pickleball to one of the junior high schools and it was added to their P.E. curriculum. They now have 32 courts at 3 different junior highs 
  • He taught the P.E. teachers and gave lessons to their students
  • His friend Jerry Keller raised a couple thousand dollars to put in a court and purchased paddles for their local Boys & Girls Club
  • Gary offers lessons because he loves to see new players light up as soon as they start playing

Why did Gary want to become an Ambassador?  “I fell in love with the game and the people.”

What advice does he give new players:

  1. Play smarter, not harder
  2. Learn to play soft first. It’s easier to learn how to hit the ball soft then hard, not the other way around.

Congrats to Gary and all the 1,700 Ambassadors growing the sport of pickleball!

Check us out on Instagram or Facebook

Talk soon,

 

Duke

© Quick Pickle 2018




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