Fran Graziano

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Please tell us something about yourself.

I retired in 2014 and moved to Kauai with my wife, Sherry, from La Crescenta, California. I didn’t play pickleball there. I was a stagehand at NBC for 37 years. I always played tennis since I was a little kid and loved it. My wife and I were married to other people and we’d always come to Kaua’i on vacation for 30 years. We have five children between us. In 2008 during the real estate bubble, we decided to see if we could buy a house here. Things worked out and we bought our house in 2010.

 

How did you start playing pickleball? What do you like about the game?

In January 2015 I was in the Maui airport and had my new tennis racket with me. A guy approached me and said "You know if you played pickleball, you could pack your racket in your bag and you wouldn’t have to carry it around" - I said "Pickleball? What the hell is pickleball?" He said "I’m going to be the ambassador of pickleball on Kauai and I’m going to give a demonstration and I’d like for you to come." So about three weeks later, Jack Hodges gave me a call and I went to his demonstration and I haven’t touched my tennis racket since. I had played tennis for 50 years. I just love this game of pickleball. It’s so fun and social - you meet the nicest people. I love the close contact with the people; the court is a lot smaller than a tennis court. I always had a lot of fun playing tennis, but for some reason, this was more of a social game.

 

Tell us where you play on Kauai, and elsewhere. Please share what you like about the places you play at.

I play mainly at the park in Princeville. Sometimes I drive to Kalawai and play. I’ve played all over - in Kalaheo and Waimea and at the beach club in Poipu. Princeville is my favorite as I live right around the corner. I walk there every day. The calibre of play is a little higher in Kalawai, but it’s getting better here.

Why did you become a member of PAK?

I wanted to put some effort into getting some permanent courts built on Kauai. When PAK started, I wanted to support them.

 

Do you have any advice on how we can accomplish PAK’s mission of developing dedicated pickleball courts?

They’ve already started construction of public courts in Koloa, but I don’t know where property is available for other courts on the island.

 

Thank you Fran for your enthusiasm and sharing your enthusiasm of pickleball with less experienced players!

"JAYZ" Julie Alvarez

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“J” keeps herself active, happy, and busy playing pickleball, playing gate ball, taking care of her animals (dogs and fish), going to the movies, spending time with her family, and making her special jello and ambrosia desserts. We’re so lucky to be on the receiving end of her treats.

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Julie Alvarez, affectionately known as “J”, has been a regular pickleball player for years at Hanapepe and Kekaha tennis courts. She took up pickleball in 2015 when it was initially introduced on Kauai. She’s known for the spins and lobs that she executes and intersperses within her pickleball game. Aside of her pickleball skills, she’s known for the special jello and ambrosia desserts that she shares with us all.

“J” grew up in Waimea, Kauai with 2 sisters and 1 brother. She graduated from Waimea High School, and enlisted into the Navy for 3 years. “J“ worked at PMRF for 15 years, and until retirement, worked another 10 years at Kekaha Post Office. Upon returning home from the Navy, “J” met and married Patrick Alvarez, and raised two sons in Kekaha. Sadly, Patrick passed in 2011. “J” still lives at her Kekaha  home with a menagerie of pets. Away from home, she has 2 grandchildren who live in Nevada.  

In 2007, “J” suffered a stroke that affected her left side (known as “left side neglect”). She was determined to recover and walk, talk, and behave “normally”. She managed to do that through her own stubbornness, perseverance, and hard work. (Note: out of curiosity, I looked up “left side neglect”. A fix/cure to recover from this condition is not simple or easy.) In 2011, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “J” elected to do a radical breast surgery which successfully treated it.

Cheryl Campanale

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Please tell us something about yourself.

I lived on the East Coast, came to Kaua’i by myself on vacation in 1989 and never left. I met my husband, Rick, in 1994 and we are both crazy about pickleball!!

I was a carpenter for 25 years and my hobbies are ceramics and pottery among other things. I absolutely love animals and currently have a dog, Rascal and two cats.

I started surfing at age 54 and started playing pickleball at 68 - it’s never too late to try new things!!

 

How did you start playing pickleball?  What do you like about the game?

A friend asked me if I wanted to come join in October 2021 and I immediately loved it. I even played in the Thanksgiving Pickleball tournament in November 2021. I love that you can get halfway decent pretty quickly and it’s good exercise. I love the amazing people I’ve met through pickleball.

I surf regularly and play pickleball whenever I can. When there are no waves and I can’t surf, I can still play pickleball.

 

Tell us where you play on Kauai, and elsewhere.  Please share what you like about the places you play at.

I play in Hanalei, Princeville (Emmalani courts) and the gym in Kilauea. Hanalei is nice and local as that is where I live; Princeville is nice because it’s been recently renovated (by local volunteers) and is a lovely surface to play on. It’s nice to have the option of playing in the Kilauea gym when the weather doesn’t cooperate and the ball is more predictable as there’s no wind to contend with.

 

Why did you become a member of PAK?

Because it’s a worthy cause and to keep pickleball alive and well.

 

Do you have any advice on how we can accomplish PAK’s mission of developing dedicated pickleball courts?

I think PAK is doing a great job.  We could do with more fundraisers and more presence on social media to try and get more people involved.

 

Thank you, Cheryl! In just 10 months you have developed from a novice player into a great competitive player. There is hardly a day when you’re not out on the courts. I love your enthusiasm! You’re often the first one out there and are happy to set the nets up for the other players when they arrive.

Bob Day

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Please tell us something about yourself.

I was born in Maine. I played High School football and in my sophomore, junior & senior years and our team was undefeated. I realized the importance of team and team sports. In Pickleball, when two people play as a team they are so much more effective than two individuals playing their own game. I graduated with a BS in mechanical engineering from Union College, Schenectady, New York and was hired by General Dynamics in San Diego in 1969 where I worked on the space shuttle project. After leaving General Dynamics, I went to work for General Atomic in La Jolla working on the design of a nuclear reactor.  That industry came to a halt after the accident at 3 Mile Island.  By this time I had lived in the San Diego area for about 10 years and didn’t want to leave so I got a general contractor’s license and never looked back. In 1995 I moved to Park City, Utah where I could pursue my love of skiing. Koko & I were married in 1998 and we came to Kaua’i on vacation in 2003 and promptly bought a townhouse in Villas on the Prince, but after living there for a short time decided to sell and buy the home we are now living in.

 

How did you start playing pickleball?  What do you like about the game?

I first came across the term pickleball in June 2015 when I went to visit a friend in St. George, Utah, which is the home of the Huntsman World Senior Games and Pickleball is one of the featured sports. When I returned to Kaua’i, I started playing with a group on the Emmalani Park basketball court. In those days we used to mark the lines with chalk which got washed away by the rain each time. Eventually we got painted lines.

I like competition and a secondary benefit of playing pickleball is all the friends I have made. There are so many people, particularly locals, who I would never have met if it weren’t for pickleball.

 

Tell us where you play on Kauai, and elsewhere.  Please share what you like about the places you play at.

I play in Princeville on Wednesday & Sunday afternoons and Friday mornings. It is very convenient as it’s just around the corner from my house, essentially in my backyard. I also play regularly at Kalawai Park, Kalaheo where I’ve met more locals who have lived on Kaua’i their whole lives - really great people!  There are some very good players on the North Shore who do well in collecting medals in tournaments.

 

Why did you become a member of PAK?

I hope that it will help promote places to play pickleball, particularly dedicated courts which are so desperately needed on Kaua’i. I was originally approached about becoming a PAK board member, but as I do not feel comfortable in the role of organizing tournaments and other administrative duties, I resigned. Where I do feel comfortable is in the role of designing, building or refurbishing pickleball courts. I have done tremendous research in this area and spearheaded the refurbishment of the Emmalani Park court which took 3 months and more than 700 volunteer hours. Everyone is very pleased with the result!

 

Do you have any advice on how we can accomplish PAK’s mission of developing dedicated pickleball courts?

This is a tricky one. Costs are high and whatever PAK builds, they will have to charge players in order to help defray the cost and maintain the courts.

 

Thank you, Bob for all you do for pickleball.  At the ripe old age of 80 and one of the top players on the island, you are an inspiration to us all!

Chet Hunt

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One of our Kauai picklers described Chet as “an old fart with a good heart”. What did she mean when she  said that? Was it because he’ll be 86 years old on July 1st? If you play pickleball at Hanapepe public courts or Southside’s Kauai Christian Fellowship’s private courts, you’ll find Chet there. You’ll see for yourself how quick and agile he is. Also, when talking to him, you’ll hear his funny jokes and enjoy chatting with him.  

Chet moved to Kauai with his family in 1974. He was 38, his wife Tish was 33, his son Steve was 8, and his daughter Patty was 6. Chet  was principal broker for Sleeping Giant Realty for 17 years. In 1981, he and Tish started Kauai Video. When they sold out in 1992, there were 5 stores. Chet also sold Sleeping Giant Realty in 1992 to retire. While in retirement he sold the Kiahuna Golf Course and co-developed The Poipu Beach Estates subdivision. One of his co-partners calls Chet a deal junkie. Now at 85 pickleball is enough action for him.

Chet started playing pickleball after recovering from a knee replacement. He found the game easier on his  knees after playing 40 years of tennis. He never returned to tennis after playing pickleball. He says pickleball is a lot more fun and he has  wonderful friends at pickleball. He plays at Kauai Christian Fellowship church on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. He, also, plays at the Hanapepe public courts on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

Chet is a member of the Pickleball Association Kauai. As a united group, he feels that we’ll have a stronger voice in the community in trying to get the county to provide more facilities.

Shelley Salausa (and her husband, Sia)

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Please tell us something about yourself.

I was born and raised in Kapaa, Kauai.  Maiden name Smith (not the boats).  I graduated from Kapaa High School where I played tennis and volleyball.  I went to school at BYU Hawaii but quit when I had an opportunity to be a part of a Polynesian Dance Troupe touring Europe.  I had been dancing with various halau since a young girl, and I performed many types of dances including hula on the tour.  I met my husband, Sia who was a fire knife dancer from Oahu on the tour.  We toured many countries until I quit dancing to raise our two children.  We have been together for 37 years, and have 7 grandchildren, plus 6 foster children I call my own, and 5 foster grandchildren.  I currently work at Kapaa Elementary School with the Primary School Adjustment Program, where I am a child associate and home liaison. 

 

How did you start playing pickleball?  What do you like about the game?

One July 4th some years back, I was playing tennis with Sia at the Kapaa courts and saw people playing pickleball.  They graciously let us play, and we were immediately hooked on the game.  We went home that day and bought a net, balls and paddles and were determined to get better at the game.  We are so grateful for the patience that the Kapaa group extended to us while we were newbies.  What we love about the game is first, the camaraderie.  Pickleball players are so nice!  We also like the exercise and being in the outdoors.

 

Tell us where you play on Kauai, and elsewhere.  Please share what you like about the places you play at.

We still play at Kapaa courts on Mondays and Fridays.  Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays we play at the Wilcox courts.  Sometimes we go to play in Kekaha.  Wednesdays is laundry day when I wash our pickleball clothes and cook a nice dinner.  We just love the people at the different courts and have made dear friends with many picklers, including visitors.  Visitors are particularly touched by the Aloha shared on our pickleball courts and cherish their local friends.  Like spreading Aloha through dance, Kauai pickleball is spreading Aloha around the world.

 

Why did you become a member of PAK?

Because we love the game so much, we would like to see better facilities to match the levels of play of our Kauai players.  Temporary nets, cracked courts, and blended lines will not satisfy the need for tournament-quality facilities the players deserve.  We joined PAK because we want to be part of their movement to provide such facilities.  We believe in their mission and have been active in helping to recruit members.  I am surprised every pickleball player does not join PAK.  Maybe they think someone else should build courts for them, or they can’t be bothered, but everybody should support this organization in some way.

 

Do you have any advice on how we can accomplish PAK’s mission of developing dedicated pickleball courts?

I think PAK is doing a great job.  Their membership is growing, their website is full of information about what is going on with pickleball here and around the world, and they are homing in on obtaining a site for dedicated courts.  First, every player should join the organization to show their support and be counted.  Next, volunteer at the events PAK is organizing, like the 2022 PAK Open to be held in May.  Lastly, be ready to contribute money to the cause when they secure their site.  Courts cost money, and every little bit helps. 

 

Thank you, Shelley for all you do for pickleball.  We hope picklers take your words to heart and get involved in our cause.  Here is a wonderful nickname she has come up for Kauai Pickleball.  We are exploring how to use it in the future.

Piko in Hawaiian, stands for the navel that marks the beginning of life. It is the symbol that helps us become purer and  breathe new life into our lives. Furthermore, it signifies peace, tranquility, and regrowth with a sense of well-being or positive progress.

 

I so feel like this game has renewed my passion for sport and well-being. Along with that, it has given me the opportunity to create new lifelong friendships on and off the court.

 

PIKOball

-Shelley Salausa

The Fort Family
March 2022

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Please tell us something about yourself.  

I am Dan Fort.  Born and raised all over the mainland in a military family.  I had family ties to Kauai so I moved here at age 19 and stayed.  Married 34 years to Kathleen, a Kauai girl.  We have 4 boys, ages 33, 30, 17 and 10.  No grandchildren yet, but waiting.  I am a retired Kauai Police Lieutenant and currently work for the County of Kauai in Workforce Development.  Kathleen is HR for Securitas.  I am a true introvert, so I am surprised I consented to this interview.

How did you start playing pickleball?  What do you like about the game?

I was part of a walking group that would walk up to Kalepa regularly.  One of the walkers, Lori Uyeda, organized a pickleball clinic in 2020 and convinced everyone that they had to come.  In my mind, I was saying “No way am I playing something that has such a stupid name like pickleball.”  Lori insisted, and Kathleen, my 17year-old Keyan and I went.  We had so much fun, we kept coming out.  Lihue Pickleball Ohana is really a friendly place, and it all centers around the game of pickleball.  I’m not a “win at all costs” kind of guy, but I was surprised that 80year-old players regularly won against me and Keyan.  I loved how we were all accepted into the ohana, and Keyan even had his 16th and 17th birthday parties at the courts.  Keyan quickly became a good player and has developed a wicked serve and overhead slam.  He is also a volleyball player, plays the trombone, and loves to sing.  His favorite group is the Temptations.  No wonder the aunties all love him!  (See a video of him singing “A Whole New World” at Lihue’s Christmas party.)  

 

Tell us where you play on Kauai, and elsewhere.  Please share what you like about the places you play at.

Like I said, I am an introvert, so I have only really played at Lihue.  This is because it is where we feel comfortable, and because we live in Lihue.  I suppose if there was another place that was as welcoming as Lihue, we would play there.  I hear there are courts in the planning by PAK, so we would welcome safer and better courts than the Lihue ones.  

 

Why did you become a member of PAK?

Since I am now a player of the game with the stupid name, anything I can do to promote pickleball on Kauai I am willing to do.  I really like that players of all ages and abilities are able to play and enjoy this game.  I played baseball as a kid, and pickleball gives me a decent amount of exercise with less risk of injury than senior softball.  In the beginning, I played only because Keyan liked the game so much.

 

Do you have any advice on how we can accomplish PAK’s mission of developing dedicated pickleball courts?

No real advice.  I’ve never been a long-range planner or project manager.  I would say to advertise your presence and get our elected officials interested.  With their buy-in, maybe PAK can access some CIP funds to accomplish their mission. 

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PA District of Hawaii Ambassador Jack Hodges

Jack Hodges retired in 2011 after forty-two years as a teacher and coach in Southern California. He spent the last twenty-two years at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, where he was a professor in the Kinesiology/PE/Athletics Division.  Jack was also the Head Baseball Coach for the Gauchos.  He taught courses on the Mental Side of Sports, Tennis, Golf, Spinning and Cardio-Conditioning/Weightlifting.  He retired as the winningest coach, in any sport, in Saddleback College history.  In May of 2015, Jack was inducted into the California Community College Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame.

 

Jack and his wife Stephanie relocated in July of 2012 to Paso Robles, CA.  Pickleball was virtually unheard of in this area.  In a little over two years, Jack "ambassadorized" the California Central Coast by introducing the game of Pickleball to city recreation departments, private clubs, and anyone who would listen.  During that time, he conducted over 30 demonstration clinics.  In December of 2014, 750 players in twelve cities on the California Central Coast were playing pickleball.  In May of 2014, Jack helped create the first (and only, at the time) permanent, public, dedicated pickleball facility on the Central Coast at Centennial Park in Paso Robles.  

 

Jack and Stephanie moved to Kauai in January, 2015.  With the help of the Kauai Department of Parks and Recreation, he has succeeded in introducing the game to the island.  He continues to work closely with the Recreation Department staff as they find locations on Kauai where the game can be played and enjoyed by the people of Kauai and visitors to the island.  Jack is the Pickleball District Ambassador for Hawaii which means he oversees the game on all four major islands. Visiting the other islands is logistically demanding, but he always mentions that the ambassadors on the other three islands (and Kauai) do such a great job that "they don't need me looking over their shoulders."

 

Born and raised in Hawaii, Jack attended high school at the Kamehameha Schools, and then received an athletic/academic scholarship to Stanford University where he majored in Journalism, minored in English, and played football and baseball. After graduating in 1969, he played professional baseball in the Kansas City Royals Organization.  After his short stint with the Royals, Jack taught and coached at the high school level for twenty years before being hired as the Head Baseball Coach/Kinesiology Professor at Saddleback College in 1989.  An avid proponent of working out and exercising, Jack became a volunteer USAPA Ambassador for Pickleball in late 2011.  His job is to "teach and promote this great game."  "I find that Pickleball is a very fun way to compete, exercise, interact, meet people, laugh, and get a great core exercise experience.  I have met many, many great people who have a genuine passion for this game."