Bill James, Ambassador - Hot Springs, AK, was in Destin Florida this summer and couldn't find a place to play pickleball!! So he did what any ambassador of the game would do and contacted the local community center. He shared his story with Regional Ambassador, Tom Burkhart, who passed it along to me.........................
"Just a note to let you know what happened in Destin last week. I think I told you contact had been made with the community center about a clinic. The director, Lisa Firth, was all for it.
The day before the clinic, a friend staying at the same motel heard me talking about the clinic and said he would like to come play, also. Of course, he was welcome. He is from Wynne, AR.
We arrived around 8:45 for the clinic and the marquee had the
announcement about the clinic. We marked off the court and waited. No one showed up.! So my friend and I started playing. He really got into playing and really enjoyed it.
After a while, I talked to Lisa and she said would get another staff person, Pat Markey, to come see about it. Pat came over and turns out he was a tennis teacher, racquetball teacher, squash teacher but knew nothing about pickleball. I don't think he was very impressed at first. I got him to hitting and he got more interested. We discussed the origin, rules, etc. I had several things to hand out to the players and he was looking them over.
About that time, we were just about to close up shop and two younger guys came and I asked them if they would like to learn pickleball. They were about to play basketball but said sure they would see what it was all about. After some explanation about the game, we started playing and they were pretty athletic and caught on pretty quickly. They really liked it. As we were playing Pat was watching and seeing how easily the guys caught on to playing and stayed the whole time we were playing. He came to me and said he was going to order some nets, racquets and join USAPA. He got pretty excited about it after seeing the interest the two fellows had in playing. He made sure he had all the info copied before I left. The next day I went back to the center and the director herself was excited about the prospects of getting pickleball started there at the center. I am going to be in touch and try to guide them along as much as I can from this far away. I did encourage Pat to mark the spot to be an ambassador when he joined the association. I will give a letter to approve him as a new ambassador if he applies. So, while there was limited participation, I think it will be a worthwhile contact to get pickleball started in Destin, FL. Lisa said she would really like another clinic in December or January when all the "snowbirds" come to town. I will give you a note for the newsletter encouraging any ambassador that happens to be in the Destin area to contact the community center and help them with another clinic.
To top it all off, my friend from Wynne said he was going back home and try to something started there. I will keep an eye on that one, too. "
After receiving this news, we alerted our Atlantic South Ambassadors located within a reasonable distance of the center and got a great response from Jerry and Virginia Corker from Mobile, AL.
.........this does sound interesting and, personally, we'd prefer January instead of December, but we would be willing to help, if they'll advertise and get participants." They.re already working to coordinate a weekend that works for booking a campground in the area for their RV and that can accommodate the centers plans for a clinic. Hopefully we'll have this location up and running by the time that Arkansas's Bill James returns next summer.
This is just a great example of how our Ambassadors across the country work together to promote our great game.