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Marty Kahn

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Please tell us something about yourself.

Born NJ, graduated Rutgers University, moved to St. Croix, USVI in my early 20s as an elementary school teacher, became the local sandal maker, fell in love with Carole scuba diving, together we moved to Kauai in 1975. 3 kids, 5 grandkids. Opened Kauai Leather 1975, Kauai Gold ‘79, Kahn Galleries ’84, Marriott 2010. Retired 2018. One of our passions is traveling. We’ve visited more than 25 countries. So many more to see!

Sports- Scuba Diving (dove all over the world), ran Honolulu Marathon 1980, Black Belt Karate 1985, Paddled for Kaiola (43-mile open ocean Molokai Ho’e, Mua (Stroker)) 1998,  Tennis 1998. 

Civic/community organizations- Lay leader and past president Jewish Community of Kauai, Charter (founding) member of Kapaa Rotary Club (Taste of Hawaii), sat on Interfaith Council, past Board member- Ho’ike Kauai Community Television, past member St Michaels Loaves and Fishes (feeding the needy on Kauai).

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

I was a tennis player, 2-3 times/wk. Some former tennis players said, “You should try pickleball.” Ha, ha. No thank you. I don’t want to play that silly game. I’m a tennis player. One day a friend took me out. I was hooked. Carole & I fell  in love with the game. Started playing almost every day. It’s an easy game to learn, but takes time, patience, and practice to improve. I like playing social pickleball but I love competitive play with people at my level and above. I like the quickness, strategy of play, that games are usually 15 minutes so there’s not a lot of waiting to play the next game. I like the fact that I’m 78, I’m still improving, and I can still compete in a sport.

 

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

 

We live in Wailua in the same house we built in 1980. Carole and I found ourselves driving from Hanapepe to Princeville and everywhere in between to play this game. Now I mostly play in Kapaa, Kilauea gym, and occasionally Lihue & Kalawai. What I like about the places I play is that the regulars who play are there because they love the game too. We all have this unspoken bond about participating in a sport that we all love. How do I know that? Because if they didn’t love the game, they wouldn’t keep showing up day after week after month after years of playing.

Why did you become a member of PAK?

I want to support our local pickleball community and the organization that stands behind it. I believe the County had an implied duty to address and fulfill the needs of its people. With hundreds and soon thousands of players (and visitors) on Kauai and more players joining the game each year, Kauai needs quality, dedicated courts in various locations around the island. I support PAK in making that dream a reality.

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

There is strength in numbers. We need to be diligent about our desires and make our presence heard in order for this to happen. We need to keep pressing until the County is willing to address our needs.

Pat Clabo

My husband and I were snowbirds for about 15 years. We made the decision a few years ago to sell our Minnetonka, MN home of 53 years and move to Kauai. I never thought we would be living here but opportunity knocked and we took advantage of it. We have a daughter, son-in-law and 2 adult grandchildren in MN and numerous siblings and family members who we miss, but they are always welcome to visit. We also have a daughter that lives in Eleele.

I've been playing pickleball for about 7 years. It took a few years of nagging from a dear friend to play this game called pickleball. We would play once a week in Minneapolis. Now I mostly play at Hanapepe, Christian Fellowship Church and Kalaheo Neighborhood Center. I enjoy the competition and also the social aspect. I have made many friends through pickleball which has made the transition from MN to Kauai that much easier.

Beside pickleball, I enjoy golf several times a week. I also bike, walk, and swim.

I joined PAK because I want to support local pickleball and their goals.

Allene and Joseph Quarles

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My husband and I have known each other for most of our lives.  We met in 7th grade and soon became close friends.  At that time, he told me that he was going to marry me.  On September 9, 2024 we will celebrate our 57 year anniversary.  We have two sons who have blessed us with seven grandchildren and one great grandchild.  We lived in Southern California for over 65 years.  We retired in 2010 from our career in education.  Now that our grandchildren are young adults, we decided in 2021 to buy a house in Kalaheo, Kauai where we now reside full-time.  We enjoy the Garden Island and the beauty it offers with its plush greenery, rainbows, beaches and sunsets.

 

We started playing pickleball in August 2023 when our grandkids introduced us to the game.  We like playing pickleball because as seniors the game keeps us active and we like socializing with the other players.

 

We play pickleball at Kauai Christian Fellowship Church a couple of times a week, Hanapepe pickleball courts 2-3 times a week and we do personal drills on Fridays at Koloa Park.  We enjoy playing with the people at all of those locations and appreciate and value their different skill levels.  We're learning new things about the sport all the time.

When we're not playing pickleball,  we're involved in church activities and play golf at least once a week.  We enjoy spending time with our family when they are visiting from the mainland.

 

We became a member of PAK, because being relatively new to the sport, it gives us the opportunity to meet new people, learn about upcoming events and stay informed about the pickleball community.  It also helps us to be connected to people with common interests.

 

We enjoy our new pickleball Ohana!

 

Daniel Kaneala Simao

Please tell us something about yourself.

Born and raised on Kauai.  Graduated Kapaa High School 1988.  Played football and basketball.  Coached community basketball for 13 years and played men’s league basketball until 2016.  Four kids, two grandchildren. 

 

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

I thought I was done with balls when I hung up my basketball shoes, but when I was faced with becoming an empty nester, I was open to trying something new.  I was introduced to pickleball by my wife Sandi Ikeda, who had been playing for about six years.  She taught all our kids and me the game.  I think she did it just to beat us up, as she did a very thorough job of doing that.  Even her mother Marsha contributed to the humiliation, and she was in her mid-70’s.  Being competitive, I couldn’t let that continue.  I recruited three other newbie friends, Skye, Kyle and Justin to play with me and kept at it.  Three of us are still at it and have started to play competitively.  My partner Cindy and I took gold in the mixed doubles 3.5 bracket at Princeville Makai earlier this month.  It was my second competition as I played in the Kalena Park tournament put on by PAK in October.  I had gotten sedentary and heavy after basketball.  Pickleball helped me lose 40 pounds and I feel great moving around again.

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

I have played at every pickleball venue on the island except Kekaha.  The fun at every place is a given, no matter how bad the courts are.  I love the play at Kalena where some high-level players play a fast and hard style game.  The folks at Kalawai are more senior, and they play a more strategic game.  Both have been beneficial in developing my game and I want to thank the players that have helped me so far.  I hope to use my coaching skills with newbies in the future.

Why did you become a member of PAK?

I saw and bought into the mission of getting more courts for Kauai.  I have witnessed the tremendous growth in the numbers of people playing and I know the trend will continue.  Most of our courts are in sad shape with cracks, faded lines and temporary nets.  Wait time between games can be long when too many players try to play on too few courts.  Somehow, more courts need to be built because the growth is not going to stop.  PAK is our best hope to do this in our lifetimes. 

Any last words?

I am also an ambassador for Vatic Pro Pickleball.  I just want to share with all PAK members a promotional code that is good for $10 off paddles, free shipping on orders over $75, and a free cover with any paddle ordered.  Go to vaticpro.com and the discount code is 808PCKLBLL.  Mahalo, Kaneala!

Jules Cannon

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Please tell us something about yourself.

I am originally from North Island, New Zealand.  My wife Stefanie and I own Sun Solutions, LLC.  Our company specializes in Window tinting, pressure steam cleaning, window and gutter cleaning, and hurricane fabric.  Our website is at sunsolutionskauai.com.  I am also a pickleball gear representative and represent paddle and shoe manufacturers.  We work hard and play harder.

 

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

Stefanie started playing first and told me it was fun and I should try it.  I thought I was too young to play a sport I thought only old people play.  After six months, I came out to the Kauai Christian Fellowship pickleball courts thinking I was going to rule immediately.  I was absolutely schooled by the players my first day, mostly older, men and women.  Being a competitive person, I had to get better so I became a regular.  (After all, I come from the warrior Maori culture, AND my wife was really enjoying humbling me.)  I love the social aspects as well as the intricacies of the game.  My first time out, I could smash the ball into the net harder than anyone, outrun most of the players, yet lost every match I played. 

 

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

I play at Kalawai, Kukuiula, and Koloa.  We also travel extensively and play wherever we go. We have played in at least 20 tournaments and medaled in about half of them.  Everywhere we play, people are gracious, fun-loving, and there is lots of  laughter.  After six years of playing, not all that laughter is about my playing.   

 

Why did you become a member of PAK?

I support the growth of pickleball.  PAK as an organization is an opportunity to unify individuals in a common cause.  We do need better and more facilities, and these will not necessarily come from our government.  On the mainland, private pickleball facilities are sprouting up everywhere.  I was surprised that many respondents to the recent PAK survey indicated they wouldn’t pay to play on a dedicated court.  You can’t demand quality and not expect to pay for it.  PAK is on the right track. 

 

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

Stefanie and I decided to become PPR certified instructors.  We are exploring ways to introduce children to this great game, because almost everyone we know wishes they started to play earlier.  Imagine how good a kid in elementary school could play by the time he/she reaches retirement age!  Once we involve the kid, his parents will start playing too, and then, the need for courts will be abundantly clear to the public and private sectors.  The pickleball movement is huge, and Kauai better prepare for it.  Go for it, PAK!

Devon Banasihan-Kenney 

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Aloha, my name is Devan Banasihan-Kenney. I was born in Hilo and raised on the west side of Kaua’i. I went to Waimea High School and played lots of sports such as football, soccer, and volleyball. I went to Eastern Oregon University for 2 years before moving back home to Kaua’i. I currently live in Kekaha and have a daughter.  

 

I picked up pickleball about a year ago. My girlfriend (Taylor) bought a beginner pickleball set on Amazon and we decided one day to try it out on the Kekaha courts. We went a few days in a row but didn’t know the rules or how to play. We were mostly just trying to hit the ball and get it over the net. One day when we were out playing, Lucia and Ray were there with the Kekaha group and offered us to join them. We were hesitant at first because we were unsure and new to the game, but we decided to give it a shot. Lucia and everyone at Kekaha were very encouraging and supportive to help us learn and play the game without being uncomfortable.  

 

I like playing pickleball because it’s fun to be able to strategize your shots. To me, I feel pickleball is like the board game chess. So many moves and styles of shots to play, but yet one wrong move could cost you the game. I love the competitive side of the game, but also think if you’re not having fun, you’re not playing the game correctly. You also get to meet new people and play with your friends. I’ve met so many incredible, fun, and amazing people in this organization. 

 

I currently play in Kekaha, Kalawai, and Hanapepe. A group of us also like to meet up to do drills to help each other grow and get better. I like playing at Kalawai because it’s challenging and fun at the same time. I feel like I was able to get better by seeing and playing with different people that have been playing for a long time. I love the challenge and I’m always looking to get better and learn new aspects of the game. 

 

I became a PAK Member because pickeball is a new hobby for me that I really enjoy playing. I also want to be able to compete in tournaments just to see how my game has progressed since I started. 

Darlene Shimatsu

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Please tell us something about yourself.

I'm originally from Kaneohe, Oahu…graduated from JB Castle High School and the University of Hawaii. UH is where I began my love for tennis.  I needed a one credit course for college so I took up tennis and never stopped playing.  If it wasn't for tennis I probably wouldn't be on Kauai because that's how I met my husband (Gene) and he became an integral part of  my tennis game and also with pickleball.  After getting married I moved to Kauai, still continued to play tennis but decided to give golf a try and really loved it as well.  I found golf to be very challenging which made it fun but very costly, so I had to put it aside for the time being.  After retirement, I had big plans on going back to playing golf and all during this time my friend kept trying to get me into playing pickleball. I told her that it was a game for "old" people.  And look what I'm doing now….

  

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

On the very first day of my retirement, I took out my golf bag for cleaning after not playing for years and years. I thought I finally had a chance to get back into golf.   I even cleaned up Gene's clubs.  Then here comes Gene; he told me to put the clubs away and that we're going to Kekaha courts.  He introduced me to Lucia, who gave us paddles to use and that was it; we were hooked.  We came home and converted our back yard into a court.  We strung a string across the yard tied to a paint can handle and the lawn mower handle for our net , so we could practice hitting volleys.  We eventually had to stop when the neighbor two houses down came to investigate the noise.

What do I like about the game?

Pickleball is a wonderful way of meeting new people and creating long lasting friendships. 

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

I basically play at Kalawai , Kalena, Hanapepe, Kekaha and sometimes Koloa depending on the weather. I really like playing at different places, the courts and the "wind" factor make it challenging to the game.

Why did you become a member of PAK?

Gene and I decided to be members of PAK because being new to the sport we felt it would be a good way to keep updated on anything happening in the pickleball community. 

Sherwin Kaleo Perez and Maria Almeida

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How did you start playing pickleball?

Kaleo:  Friends of mine kept talking about this game and urging me to try it.  My curiosity finally made me show up at the Wilcox courts.  I didn’t even have a paddle, but Marsha Ikeda loaned me a spare.  I used to play a lot of ping pong and I saw a lot of parallel elements of both games.  I ended up buying that paddle and I became a devoted regular.  The Wilcox players were so supportive and fun.  I remember the Miyakes, Salausas, Uyedas, Amimotos, Craig W and Nolan A.  I also play at Kapaa, Kalaheo, Princeville and Koloa. 

Maria:  I started at the Kalaheo gym.  Melanie Okamoto put the pickleball bug in my ear.  I loved it and played for about six months before I had to take off for about three years to build our home.  I’ve been back playing for about five years, and there is no more stopping in sight. 

What do you like about pickleball?

Kaleo:  What’s unique about pickleball is this is a sport that people of all ages, physique, and ability can play.  I am constantly amazed at how fast people can improve their games by playing and practice.  For me, I enjoy competition, so I like to play in tournaments.

Maria:  I don’t like pickleball.  I LOVE pickleball.  I love the exercise one gets, but mostly I love the people I play with.  Awesome people play this awesome game here and everywhere.  I like to talk a lot and enjoy talking smack on the courts.  There are many times we have had to stop playing so we can all laugh like kids.

When you are not playing pickleball, what else do you do?

Kaleo:  When I’m not playing, I’m thinking of playing.  I love spending time with my ohana.  I used to gather from the ocean a lot, but pickleball seems to have replaced that.  I was active in community basketball as a player, but cannot run like that anymore, so I referee school and league games.  Most importantly, I go to church on Sunday to honor our Heavenly Father.

Maria:  I golf, go to the beach, travel, spend time with family and just enjoy this beautiful life that I have been blessed with.

Tell us about your mixed doubles matches at the Seattle Open, where you ended up winning the gold medals, undefeated, and a golden ticket to the 2023 Nationals.

Kaleo:  I’m so fortunate to have Maria as my partner.  She’s the sparkplug of our team.  Although she’s short, she’s tough on the court as well as smart, skilled, and very controlled.  We have competed in Oahu, Las Vegas, and Newport Beach as well as Seattle.  I hurt my hamstring in Newport Beach, but I was able to recover fully for the Seattle Open.  Good thing we were healthy, because we faced some tough competition in our 3.5 bracket, especially in the gold medal match.  We won the first game, and we were down 3-7 in the second.  We knew we didn’t want the match to go three games, so we clawed our way back to win the second, and the gold!

Maria:  I must thank those that supported me on this pickleball journey.  Coach Jack and Stephanie, Melanie with the County.  All the players that I have played with and laughed with.  Kaleo, my pickleball “husband” and Kathy, his real wife and our number one supporter.  My one and only husband Ricky, who has never complained about my pursuit of a national title.  Our travel entourage includes other outstanding Kauai players including Loutoa, Phil, Brant and Seela.  Juliet from PAK has been our tournament “guru” along with her sister Suzanne.  My sister Cheryl for stepping up to care for our mom when I travel.  Playing with Kaleo is such a blessing.  He is strong, smart, and a very calm player.  As a team, we each can step up play when our partner is off, enough to win the match.  We have kept our game simple, nothing fancy.  Just get the ball back, exploit the opponents’ weaknesses, and when the opportunity arises KILL IT! 

Nationals is in Dallas in November.  We will be there and give it our best shot.  For me, I am smelling the flowers, and enjoying the blessings God has given us.  Mahalo Ke Akua!

Good luck Kaleo and Maria.  We are so proud of you.  Imua Kauai!

Seattle Open Draw - Mixed Doubles 3.5 60+

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Maria and Kaleo with Coach Kathy!!

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Kris Nuding

I played pickleball for the first time at a PE workshop in 1984, at Cal Poly. I thought it was really fun but never had an opportunity to play again until Jack Hodges held his introductory meeting in Kalaheo. That was enough to hook me! I’ve always loved all sports but I think all the laughs and socialization is what I enjoy most about pickleball. I‘ve met so many nice people and made many great friends.

I love living on Kauai. I grew up in central Illinois, went to college in Colorado and taught school in San Diego for 33 years. As soon as I retired in 2003, I moved to Kauai. I keep moving west but this is the end of the line.

I hope we will be able to upgrade all the county park facilities like they did in Koloa and Kalawai so that people island-wide can enjoy pickleball. I joined PAK to support all they do to help pickleball grow and thrive here. I really appreciate what all the ambassadors do to make it possible for so many people to enjoy this sport. We are definitely a healthier and happier society because of all you do.

Philip Baclayon

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About myself:

Born and raised on Kauai.  Immediately after high school, I moved to Oahu North Shore where I  attended Windward Community College and later transferred to BYU-Hawaii.  An interesting event occurred during my senior internship at Kahuku HS, when the campus security summoned me to the principal’s office.  "Ok what did I do wrong," I thought.  This happens only to naughty students.  To my surprise, Lea Alberts our principal asked me to takeover a class after a science teacher quit just after 3 days. That was the beginning of my teaching and coaching career. In 1988 I had the opportunity to coach in Japan in a semi professional league and  made it to the playoffs the following year.  After the passing of my mother in 1991 I return home to Kauai and got married to my beautiful wife Elizabeth.   We have two boys Chris and Keliikoa.  In 1996 I started a landscaping business where I am presently self employed.  With a vision in mind, I started my Hanakila basketball club in 2000 with just 11 players, and it soon became a dominant club in numbers and on the court.  In 2006 I was  appointed Head Coach for the Boys Basketball program at Kapaa HS. Three years later, we won 5 consecutive KIF titles including a 3rd Place Finish in the State Tournament.  In 2017 I assembled a team of coaches who took over an Island School team who got beat by identical scores of 75-16, 60-13 the previous year.  Entering our 2nd year in 2018, we were the team to be reckon with, after posting wins over Hawaii Prep Academy, Kealakehe HS and Parker School on the Big Island.  The success of the program, which included victories over Kapaa, Kauai, and Waimea High Schools is credited to my coaching staff, support staff and the young men who worked hard and “NEVER GAVE UP.”  

What are the different sports I've played:

I acquired a strong passion for sports at an early age watching my older brothers Danny and Kay.   My competitiveness came from my sisters Ewalani and Tika.  I started playing ping pong, then surfed and later played basketball, volleyball, football, golf and softball.  The discipline and work ethic are credited to our parents Emily and Daniel Baclayon.  A typical school day started at 4:30 in the morning with chores, going to school, and ended with chores after we got home.  On weekends dad took us fishing and hunting for wild boars.  My mom, being a kumu hula, taught us about the culture, the hula and the discipline of the hula.  Playing sports was a luxury and not an excuse to…..not doing chores or work.  Back in those days, there was no city bus to catch, or mom or dad to pick us up after practices or games.  We had to hitch hike home which sometimes resulted in getting home at 8 or 9 at night.  Yes if you’re old school, you guessed it right, you’ll still need to do your chores. Those traits and qualities shaped my character early, and have helped me throughout my sports, putting myself through college, and my work and coaching careers.  

 

How did you start playing pickleball?

I started playing pickleball while working at the Kilauea Gym.  I had a really good supervisor, Aaron Uyeda.  During one of our meetings he said, “Hey Phil next week there’s gonna be a group coming in to play pickleball every Tuesday.  Ted Steinberg is in charge and you should try it out too….its fun,” he said. “What’s Pickleball?” I asked.  A few months later I played in my first tournament in Kalaheo and was hooked.  Like many others, I got addicted…..and hope to advance to the next level.

 

What do you like about the game?

Everything!!!

FUN, Food, Family & Friends and it keeps me Fit; it's all connected.

  1. You can’t wait to play with your friends or family again.

  2. You can’t wait for the next potluck, which to our visitors, we call a luau.

  3. You can’t wait for the next tournament.

  4. You can’t wait to try your new paddle or skill learned.

  5. Or you can’t wait to hear the next funny wisecrack before the game stops, because you’re just laughing too hard.  Now days they call it trash talk but..…its all done with respect and fun.

  6. Or you can’t wait till the rain clears up.  So what do we do?  You go out and play in the rain.  How much better can it get?  Yes it gets even better.

  7. You’re having a conversation with little Kaito (Josh’s 4 yr old son), and then he squats down to tie your shoe lace.   Wow…..that is so precious and humbling. 

For me, pickleball has done a lot more.  It has exposed my weakness as a person, and allowed me to make corrections and be a better person.  

More importantly, pickleball has brought my family together.  During a recent pickleball tournament in Las Vegas, I was able to see and spend time with my brothers.  One of whom I haven’t seen for almost 35 years, and the other about 14 years. Now, we’re already making plans for the next family reunion in Utah.

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Tell us where do you play and please share about the places you play.

I play at Princeville Emmalani, Princeville Makai, Kilauea Gym, Kapaa Tennis Courts, Lihue Wilcox, Kalena Park and Kalaheo.

Princeville Makai-  With the leadership of Loutoa, pickleball at Makai has become a fun & competitive place to play.  Thanks to all who come to play and make it fun.

Kapaa-

Pickleball in Kapaa is growing and fun too.  During a recent play at Kapaa I was surprised to see the numbers, including Eric and his family.  All 4 courts had games going on with several people waiting on the side including Georgia and Bruce, longtime friends.  Thanks to Coach Sia, who has dedicated a lot of his time teaching / coaching the new players.  Great job supporting PAK’s mission.  

Kalawai- 

I occasionally make the trip to the other side of the island to Kalawai.  Always good to see and play with long time friends, the Honda’s, Tiffany, Mike, Melanie, the Bartels and of course Jack & Stephanie Hodges.  We already miss a good friend Alana.  

Wilcox- 

Wilcox is solid as ever and has it all.  A good mixture of keikis, kupunas and the young guns.  Everyone is Ohana. It's like a huge family.   No matter where you’re from or the color of your hair.   This is where they keep me grounded and where I get my inspiration.  Players like Aimee, Ray, Marsha, Roy, Elton  and many others whom I’m learning their names.    Of course, you can’t forget about Brant and Seela who provide a clinic periodically or Gary with his pickleball machine.  Mary who just comes to watch and Braddah Kaili & Caroline .  Everyone looks after one another.  Thanks to Lori Uyeda’s leadership and everyone there…..we have the best birthday potluck and Christmas party.

Kilauea

Kilauea Gym is where I learned to play pickleball.  When it's storming or been raining for a  week, you bet everybody runs to the gym. Suzie does a great job organizing the order of play when there’s a full house. 

Kalena-

If you want to have fun and get a whole bunch of laughing, just make sure Marie, Marvin, and Kaleo are there.  They’ll get everyone going.  Yes, Kalena has become one of my favorite places to play too.  Especially when the young guns like Brandon, Josh, Jen, Peter and Jen G show up.  Other players like Carol who has a wicked back hand or Gene and Darlene who come from the Westside.

Emmalani-

When I think of Emmalani, the person who immediately comes to mind is Bob Day.   As one of the original pickleball players on Kauai, and a very good player himself, Bob was the lead person who researched, organized and resurfaced the Emmalani court at Princeville.  A beautiful setting of Namolokama, Hihimanu and Mamalahoa in the back ground.

 

Why did you join PAK?

I joined PAK to support its mission, to help others and to have FUN.

On Advice on how we can accomplish PAK’s mission.

I believe in Strength in Numbers.  Just a few weeks ago, I had a brief chat with Capt. Mark Ozaki, a KPD official and friend, who mentioned the possibility of starting a KPAL pickleball program for our youth.  At the present time, I’m in direct dialog with Lt. Lance Okasaki to make it happen.  With the amount of talented players and parents in our communities, I believe we can make it happen.  I also believe by developing a Keiki program, the families will follow.  We have the resources. The key for this program to be successful is…..It has to be FUN.  If its Fun they will come.

Susie Ayers

Susie and her beautiful mom, Jo Ayers

Susie grew up on Oahu from a young age and moved to Kauai after high school. She eventually left Kauai to live and work on a 50 ft sloop doing long term sailing charters between the Hawaiian Islands. Her time on that boat culminated in an extended sailing trip through the South Pacific, as far as New Zealand, and then ended in San Diego.

 

After finishing college on Oahu Susie moved back to Kauai and worked ceaselessly as a massage therapist. She also taught couples dance (swing, salsa, ballroom, etc), holding classes and social dances all over the island. She has always stayed busy with outdoor activities including hiking, surfing, swimming, biking and kayaking. After discovering her love of sailing, Susie has spent more treasured time sailing on different boats around the island groups in the Pacific Ocean, between Micronesia and French Polynesia. She gets away when she can for backpacking trips, mountain biking trips or attending dance conventions on the mainland.

Being petite and never getting chosen for the sports teams in school, her competitive sports experience was nil. Her background of hitting a ball with an object was limited to some ping pong for laughs. Except for one time, when she and her sister lived in a condo with a tennis court, they optimistically attempted to play tennis. That lasted only until all of the balls were lost over the fence into the kiawe.

Susie spent most of one summer mountain biking on the mainland and had an accident while downhill mountain biking in Colorado. She was told to stay out of the sun for a year to let her face heal. She had heard from some dancer friends about playing “pickleball” in the Kilauea gym. Even though she didn't know what it was, the idea of indoor exercise appealed to her. So she bought a paddle and started playing. While her face was healing, she was also healing her self-confidence after the accident, getting exercise, socializing with friends - old and new - and having fun!

Shortly after stepping into the joys and frustrations along the steep learning curve of playing pickleball, she had her mother come live with her. She quickly began to experience the reality of the depths, challenges and unexpected transformations that come with full time caring for a parent with dementia. She is also grateful to be able to be there for her and with her, and has learned that this must be a shortcut on the road to sainthood! For Susie, pickleball is her Zen, her escape and way to recharge. It is also the one thing in her life that gives her self-satisfaction as she works to keep improving. She is grateful to continue to meet so many incredible people through this addictive sport.

Susie plays as often as possible and would like it to be everyday. She plays mostly on the north shore in the Kilauea gym and at Emmalani park where her mom (94+ years of age) goes to enjoy being outside and get her exercise as she retrieves balls for everyone. Susie also makes the trip to play with other players at Kalawai, Hanapepe, Wilcox, Kapaa and Kalena when she has the opportunity.

Susie became a member of PAK because she, too, sees the growing need for more dedicated pickleball courts around the island, away from neighborhoods. This sport is understandably attracting more and more players of varying ages, as well as visitors who are surprisingly eager to spend their time on Kauai out on the pickleball court. 

Jenn Grady

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1. Please tell us something about yourself-

 

I was born and raised on Kaua'i and grew up playing several sports. Tennis was one of the sports I picked up in high school, and it's definitely the sport I wish I started much younger in age! After moving back to Kaua'i after college, I stopped participating in sports entirely. I got into hiking and diving and spent a lot of time outdoors. Until I discovered pickleball a few years after moving home, I didn't realize how much I missed competing! On my days off, I'm usually at the beach with my dog Kona or taking him on a hike. I also try to play pickleball at least one day on the weekend too! 

 

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

 

In 2017 or 2018, my boyfriend's mom Lori discovered pickleball and tried to get all of us to play. At first, none of us wanted to play and thought it looked boring and silly but gave it a try anyway. Of course we all ended up getting hooked like most people do when they first give it a try :) For a while, we were playing with no concept of the rules until Uncle Craig Watanabe showed up at Wilcox Courts. He could clearly see we knew nothing of the rules and was kind enough to show us how to play!

 

I love that pickleball gives me an opportunity to be competitive after high school sports. It's definitely something to look forward to knowing that I can participate in this sport, hopefully for many years to come! I also love that pickleball can be played and enjoyed by anyone! You don't have to be a super athlete to keep a rally going, and some people feel they can't play pickleball because they have never played a sport in their life. As we know it, that's not the case and it's a sport people can pick up at any age or any background and enjoy it. 

 

 

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

 

I usually play at Wilcox Courts at night time. Once in a while we will go to Kalena or Kalawai on a weekend. Wilcox is probably my favorite place despite the court conditions. It's almost like a "home court feeling" lol. Kalena Park has also been great! I like that we usually have a smaller group at Kalena, so we get a lot of games in a short amount of time. I rarely play at Kalawai, but I enjoy being able to play with many different players there. At Kalawai, there's a lot of players that I rarely play against which makes it fun and exciting! 

4. Why did you become a member of PAK?

I became a PAK member to support the growth of Kaua'i Pickleball and hopefully to improve and maintain facilities for the people of Kaua'i.

Bobby Ritch

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is a quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” Mary Anne Radmacher

Local pickleball player Robert “Bobby” Ritch moved to Oahu from Virginia in 1972. He eventually moved to Kaua’i, and settled in Kaumakani for 36 years, until moving to his current home in Hanapepe Heights.

He worked for 40 years, at various Kaua'i agricultural companies: McBryde Sugar Company, Grove Farm, Olokele Sugar Company, Kaua'i Coffee Company, and Gay & Robinson Sugar Company. During this period, he held nearly every job on the sugar plantations at one time or another. He retired early, at 55 years old.

Bobby has past accomplishments of which he’s proud. He was a high school wrestling champion. In 1994, he was the first Hawaii State NORBA (National Off Road Bicycle Association) mountain bike champion. He was the Kaua'i Bicycle Club President at the time his club started the Kaua'i Bicycle Path by Donkey Beach in 1998 to 2000. He was 1st assistant for the wrestling coach for Waimea High School’s first 4 years of its wrestling program, which started in 2010. He volunteered/assisted Coach Mac in 1998 to get the KPAL wrestling started, and continued to volunteer at KPAL for over 12 years.

Bobby suffered through two broken ankles in 1993 which affected his feet, toes, and the nerves in both feet. His body was further affected by Gullain-Barré (GBS) coupled with Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP). Per GBS/CIDP Foundation International, “Guillain-Barré (Ghee-yan Bah-ray) Syndrome is an inflammatory disorder of the peripheral nerves outside the brain and spinal cord…the cause is unknown… Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) is a rare disorder of the peripheral nerves characterized by gradually increasing sensory loss and weakness associated with loss of reflexes… CIDP is caused by damage to the covering of the nerves, called myelin.” Bobby, struggling through these medical disabilities, had to learn to walk again.  Although his balance continues to be affected when he stands and/or walks, he’ll give you a challenging game of pickleball if/when you hit a pickleball near or to him.

Bobby played badminton on Kaua'i for many years. His wife Shirley, also a badminton player, has won five silver medals in the Beijing City badminton games. (She retired as an RN nurse who specialized in pediatrics and ultra-sound in Beijing, China.)

Today, although they may play badminton from time to time, both Bobby and Shirley regularly play pickleball instead. Seven years ago, Bobby started playing pickleball after attending a Jack Hodges’ pickleball introduction clinic at Kalaheo Neighborhood Center gym. Although he started playing then, he didn’t regularly play full time until after the pandemic started in 2019.  Bobby introduced his wife Shirley to pickleball upon her visit to Kaua'i in 2017. Both Bobby and Shirley play at Hanapepe courts three times a week and will sometimes play at Kekaha when they can. Bobby has participated in fun Kaua’i pickleball tournaments where he’s garnered three medals (gold, silver, and bronze).

Bobby has two daughters and one son, seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren. His wonderful wife, Xiaolan (Shirley) is a wonderful cook. Bobby takes pride in his wife’s Chinese cooking. They both enjoy and love to share her food specialties with her pickleball friends.

Ted Steinberg

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Dallas, Texas through junior high and high school and went to SMU for undergraduate and graduate studies. 

 

What brought you to Kauai?

My daughter, Ranaella. She was in veterinary school at the University of Florida and did an internship on Oahu. She decided that’s where she wanted to live, so when she graduated, she came back to Oahu with no job, no place to live, no car, and three dogs. She was there for six years, but found it too crowded so came over to Kauai. My wife, Betty, and I have been visiting her here for over 20 years. We finally made the decision to move here fulltime, and moved to Princeville in 2014. We love it here.

 

Tell me about your family.

As well as my daughter living here on Kauai, we have a daughter, Kelly,  son-in-law Mark and granddaughter Trinity who live in Austin, Texas. We also lived in Austin twice and love it there too. The only two places I want to live are Austin or here.  We go back to visit our daughter in Austin for 10 weeks twice every year. 

 

How were you first introduced to pickleball? 

It was quite by accident. I had a friend in Dallas that I went to junior high with and he had been playing pickleball for a number of years. We were visiting him from Austin when he invited me to play, so I went with him twice and got hooked. When we went back to Austin, I couldn’t find any place to play, so I forgot about it.

We moved here in 2014 and in 2015 I saw a newspaper article where Jack Hodges, the new district ambassador for pickleball in Hawaii, was going to give a clinic in Kalaheo.  Somehow, I got his phone number and called him asking what it would take for him to give a clinic on the North Shore. He said “Find me a place to play and I’ll come up. I’ll bring nets and balls and whatever.” I didn’t even know about Emmalani Park at the time, but someone mentioned it. I went up to the PHCA office and talked to April, asking what it would take to reserve the courts on a Saturday afternoon for a clinic. She said no one had ever asked to reserve the courts before so she would have to check with the general manager. I talked with them about what pickleball was because they didn’t know at that time. They said yes, so I put signs up that we were having a pickleball clinic and almost 30 people signed up. At the end of it I asked, how many would be interested in playing on a continuing basis and there were 10. That was the start of pickleball on the North Shore and soon we became known as the North Shore Pickleball Ohana (NSPO).  It was not long after that when I became the USAPA Ambassador for the North Shore, which I did for 5 years.

What do you like about pickleball?

Anyone can play it. You can play as seriously as you want or just for fun.  When I started, I used to say anyone from 8 to 80 could play. But now I’m 81, I have to move that up - anyone from 8 to 90 can play! It’s just a fun game. In 20 minutes, you can start having fun. I don’t know of any other sport where you can do that. 

Why did you decide to become a member of PAK?

I think their charter of trying to build more courts is really important. Pickleball is growing so fast. I think there are 4-5 million players in the US currently and it's predicted to be 20 million by 2030! So, we definitely need more courts.

 

Thank you so much Ted! You are the father of pickleball on the North Shore!

Raymond Bartels

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“Rubbah Slippa Man” or “Rubbah Slippa Guy”. Everyone who’s played at Hanapepe, Kekaha, and Kalawai knows Ray. He’s the guy who doesn’t wear shoes. He’s a colorful character in “dress” and personality. He’s someone you love or hate. But, who doesn’t love Ray?

Ray grew up in Nanakuli, Oahu. He was the only son of a part-Hawaiian mother and a local Caucasian father. His 3 sisters say that he was a spoiled child while growing up. For sure, the rough and tumble neighborhood that he grew up in, helped him become the assertive person that he is today. His parents passed away years ago, but he and his sisters remain a close-knit family (each is 70 years old or more). Out of high school, he enlisted in the Marines and was in Vietnam until being discharged. Upon returning home to Oahu, he met the love of his life, Lucia. She had grown up on Kauai but was his sister Pua’s friend from high school. They lived on Oahu during the majority of their marriage and working years.

After Ray retired from his job in Dec 2007, they moved to Kekaha, Kauai in 2008. He enjoys the relaxing Kauai laid back life. So much so that, unless he gets to play pickleball where he’s at, he doesn’t enjoy off island travelling.

Ray’s love for playing pickleball began at a Jack Hodges’ pickleball introduction clinic, held at Hanapepe tennis courts, in the summer of 2015. Until then, he had been an avid tennis player. He no longer plays tennis but actively plays pickleball at Kekaha, Hanapepe, and Kalawai courts. If he can, he plays at other pickleball courts on/off island. He relishes the challenge of pitting himself against new/other players. With his quick feet, and quick hands, he’s able to ward off opponents' shots and make winning ones of his own.

Ray played baseball and football in his early years. Like other local families, his family spent a lot of time at the beach where they camped, fished (on shore and off shore), swam, surfed, etc. in their free time. He has many happy memories of those “old” days. He was able to do, and share, these same activities with his children as they grew up.

Ray brings the pickleball nets/balls for set up at Kekaha and Hanapepe courts on scheduled days/times. He’s done so for more than 6 years. Thankfully, Hanapepe and Kekaha players help set up/take down equipment at both courts. It gets tiring to lug equipment to and from home. (During the initial days, when portable nets became available, chalk lines had to be drawn in to delineate a pickleball court. It was a relief when permanent court lines were painted onto the courts.)

Ray is a supporting PAK member. He hopes to see zero cracks and zero peeling surfaces on our public pickleball courts one day. Sooner rather than later. The newly built Koloa courts will be opening to the public soon and Kalawai courts are still in good shape. He wishes Hanapepe, Kekaha, and Lihue courts were in the same conditions as Koloa and Kalawai courts. Unfortunately, Hanapepe, Kekaha, and Lihue courts’ conditions continue to worsen with court cracks that are growing longer and wider, and continued peeling of court surfaces.

Meantime, despite the incoveniences at his “home” courts, rubbah slippah man/guy will continue to play pickleball as long as he’s able to do so.

Barbara Antonio

Barbara Antonio, “the Ulu Lady”, keeps our Hanapepe group running smoothly at Hanapepe Tennis Courts. She initiates group gatherings, activities, etc which strengthens the bonding of Hanapepe’s pickleball players. She keeps her “ears to the ground” and brings up player concerns/issues so that they can be addressed. Barbara recently took on a task to have Berna McRoberts, of kauaithreadworkz, embroider Hanapepe and/or Kauai pickleball logos onto shirts, shorts, or hats that Hanapepe pickleball players’ requested. The finished products were well done and look terrific. We were all happy with the results.

 

 

 

Barbara retired as a Dental Hygenist in December 2015. She grew up in Honolulu, Oahu and moved to Kauai in Dec 1976. Her one child, a daughter, lives on Oahu. As Oahu is a short flight away and recent air fares have been reasonably low, Barbara often island hops for short visits with her daughter.

Barbara keeps active working in her yard, playing gateball, playing pickleball, watching “K” dramas, and cooking. She learned to play pickleball when it was introduced to Kauai in 2015 by Jack Hodges. She’s now been playing pickleball for 7 years. Barbara’s steady and consistent playing, especially with her “wicked” backhand, keeps Hanapepe players on their toes. She’s a solid doubles partner to have on your side.

 

Barbara is a humble person. Everything that she does, she does under the radar. Barbara often does something nice for others but avoids attention for her deed(s). If she sees a need, she goes out of her way to help others. She shares fruits or vegetables that are homegrown, given to her, or bought by her. She  excels in making ulu (breadfruit) chips whenever the fruit is available. From start to finish, the ulu chips take hours to make, and yet, she makes the time to cook them. For example, she has to pick the ulu from wherever its located (it could be from her neighbors or from several miles away), has to wash, peel and thinly slice the ulu. Then she prepares her oil mixture (secret recipe), fries the sliced ulu, drains the oil from the chips, and packages the finished ulu chips. Hanapepe courts are more than lucky to benefit from her kindness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barbara is a PAK member. As with other Kauai pickleball players regarding their respective courts, she wishes that our Hanapepe courts’ surfaces were in better condition. The widening cracks and peeling court surfaces at Hanapepe make pickleball playing a challenge for everyone. She looks forward to playing on better courts in Hanapepe, in her lifetime.

Marie Levek

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Marie is one of the newest up and coming pickleball players on the North Shore.  

She is originally from St. Louis, Missouri, came to Kaua'i six years ago on vacation and just stayed. She was in the process of moving from L.A. to Santa Barbara and came to spend a few days with a friend on Kaua'i. She had never been to Kaua'i before, but was attracted by the natural beauty and just happened to land in Princeville on the north shore where she's been ever since. 

She was first introduced to pickleball late in 2020 when she was walking her puppy, Lila, past a group of pickleballers. They were all really friendly to both her and Lila. A couple of them invited her to join a beginner's group one morning and lent her a paddle. She picked it up really quickly. Her history with competitive sports definitely helped. In high school she played basketball, volleyball, soccer and also has some experience with tennis, but she stopped in college, because the standards were just too high and she struggled even to play in the intramurals.  However, she discovered with pickleball that she could make progress very quickly and realized that getting back into a sport regularly and improving quickly was just what her soul needed. 

After only playing for a few short months, she entered a tournament, which was really fun. She and her partner (also a new player) actually won their first game.

She plays mostly in Princeville, but also in Hanalei and tries to get to the gym in Kilauea one morning a week to play with different people. She's going to Palm Springs in a few months and will take her paddle with her and hopes to find some places to play in California. Another bonus of pickleball is that you can travel with a paddle and play anywhere as it's becoming more and more popular; there seem to be courts springing up everywhere.

She introduced her mother to pickleball, who now plays regularly in St. Louis and coincidentally, her sister in Seattle started playing pickleball around the same time as Marie started. Both her mother and sister have visited her in Kaua'i so she's been able to play with them both and introduce them to her pickleball friends here on the north shore. 

She decided to join PAK as she plays so much now and considers herself an intermediate player. She would like to get involved in league play and play more competitively as well as continuing to play for fun and exercise.  She's hoping that PAK will be able to establish more dedicated pickleball courts on the island as it's growing so quickly and definitely more court space is needed. On the mainland, more and more underused tennis courts are being converted to pickleball courts. Maybe that's a way forward, which would involve less cost than building new pickleball courts from scratch.

Without pickleball and her dog, Marie wouldn't have met half the people she now considers her good friends.

Rose Michael

A few words that come to mind, when I think of Rose, are: youthful, fun, joyful, kind, sharing.

Guillerma Michael, we call her “Rose”, at age 81, keeps active playing pickleball, taking care of her home and yard, spending time with her family, attending church, taking care of her pets, and cooking, etc. A snack that she’s happy to share at pickleball is “Rose’s Easy Pretzels”. (Note: see Rose’s recipe at the end of her profile.)

It took Rose over a year, after first hearing about pickleball, to get onto a pickleball court. However, once she finally got onto a pickleball court, and was introduced to the pickleball game, Rose became an avid player. She feels that pickleball gives her body and mind a stimulating workout. She loves that she made many new friends playing pickleball and, especially, enjoys the comraderie and social side of it.

Rose regularly plays pickleball at Hanapepe and Kekaha. She introduced her grandchildren Sarah and Isaac to the game. They were both able to join and play with her at Kekaha. However, with school and work, her grandchildren haven’t been able to continue playing on Kauai. Rose also got her daughter Susan and her sister Eugenia (“Youngi”) into playing pickleball on the mainland.

Rose is a PAK member. As we all do, she wishes that the cracked surfaces of our Kauai public courts could be repaired or were in better condition. While she’s still able to play pickleball, she looks forward to that happening within her lifetime.

Rose’s Easy Pretzels Recipe

1 Lb bag of pretzels w/o salt

2 Tbsp Ranch Dressing Seasoning Mix

1 Tsp Garlic Powder

½ Tsp Dill Powder

½ Tsp Onion Powder

½ C Olive Oil

Mix the dry ingredients together, add the olive oil, and mix again. Put the mixed ingredients and pretzels into a large plastic bag. Shake well for about half an hour.

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." 

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