Jay Spencer

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Please tell us something about yourself.

I am visiting from Northern California, Sacramento area where I have lived for over 20 years. My wife, Natalie, and I had an opportunity to work on Kauai for a few months with a view of possibly coming back and finding a place to live here.

 

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

During COVID the gyms had closed and my friend asked “Why are you not on the pickleball court?” I said “What is pickleball?” The next day I was on the court. That was about a year and a half ago and I haven’t stopped playing since.  Watching pickleball on YouTube has really helped improve my game quickly. I love playing doubles and singles, but particularly singles so I can burn up my energy. I really enjoy the social aspect and whether you are 6 years old or 96 you can play the game.

 

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

I’ve played at the courts in Princeville and in the Kilauea gym. Kilauea gym is a nice option when it’s raining, but I’d rather play outside even with the wind as it’s so beautiful. I’m always willing to play with anyone, whether they are professional or first timers. There are very few folks who are introduced to pickleball who don’t enjoy it. They always come back for more.

Laura Glassco

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Laura and “Kim” Kimball Glassco have been regular visitors to Hawaii for 45 years. The onset of covid within the United States caused a temporary break with their visits to Kauai in 2020 and 2021. She and her husband, Kim, are happy to be back to visit. They’ve found, and regularly book, their “happy” place in Pakala. It’s a place that’s not inundated with people. It’s quiet, peaceful, and relaxing. They’re near the shores of Pakala beach, go on hikes around the island, and do vacation “stuff”. For Laura, an added bonus is being able to play pickleball at both Hanapepe and Kekaha tennis courts.

Laura retired in 2010 from a Director of Sales position at Johnson & Johnson. She worked there for 12 years. Doing so, had her traveling in all the western states, including Hawaii. She and Kim, who is also retired, are able to take the time to enjoy their growing families.

Laura and Kim have a Swiss hanai family whom they keep in close contact with. Years ago, they housed and cared for 2 visiting brothers  from Switzerland. They grew so fond of the boys that the boys and their immediate family became Laura and Kim’s extended family. “Grandchildren” are now a part of this family whom they love so much. Families, on both sides, have visited each other in their home country or gone on vacation together. Laura and Kim have visited, and stayed with, their “families” multiple times in Switzerland.

Laura’s home town, Dutch Flat, CA, has a population of 360, or so. Laura is able to enjoy playing pickleball everyday there with 4 to 6 friends. Even though their group is small, they try to practice playing/doing different shots and practicing pickleball strategies. Other than regular doubles, they’ll play “3 on 3” games (for 6 people) or “2 on 2” with the 5th player immediately “replacing” a player who made a game error (for 5 people). Laura and her group of friends are able to measure their pickleball progress when they play outside of their town. Unfortunately, due to Dutch Flat’s small population, play is limited to their little group as pickleball hasn’t yet grown within their community.

Until then, Laura looks forward to the camaraderie, people, pickleball play, and fun that she experiences during her annual Kauai visits.

Chad Wilson

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Please tell us something about yourself.

I am married to Maile (Loutoa Zoller’s daughter) and live in Orange County, California. We’ve been married 12 years and we have visited Kaua’i many times - usually once or twice a year. We have two boys; Pierce who is almost 6 and Gage who just turned 2 yesterday. They have already tried out their pickleball paddles and will be playing before we know it. I am an attorney by profession.

 

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

Just over a week ago, they needed an extra player and I volunteered. I’ve been playing every day since and now I’m hooked! I was exposed to pickleball in the past when Loutoa came to visit, but I’d never played myself until now.

I like that it’s constant action - no waiting on when you’re going to get the ball. Pickleball takes less cardio and more reflexes than tennis. It’s very social. Players are competitive, but not malicious about it. I love seeing all ages and backgrounds having fun.

 

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

I have so far played in Princeville at the Emmalani courts and at the Cliffs and also at Kilauea gym. Emmalani courts are my favorite because of the setting and gorgeous view. The Cliffs has a cushioned surface so the ball tends to die. The Kilauea gym is my least favorite. It’s very confusing because of all the different colored lines and it’s hard to see the ball.

 

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

It would be good to have more SWAG available for purchase to raise funds like paddles, T-shirts, hats.

Something that could encourage more donations would be to advertise your goal and have a visual meter each month showing how much has been raised.

Converting existing tennis courts would be the least expensive option.

 

Thanks Chad! Good luck with your pickleball ventures and hope to see you back on the Kaua’i courts soon.

The Paredes Family

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L>R Kylena, Kyle, Elaina

Who are the Paredes?

Kyle:  He is an Exercise & Sports Physiologist, working to improve health, wellness and sports performance for all athletes and coaches.  He played various sports at high levels all his life.  He was a two-sport collegiate athlete having played football and racquetball, and even played a season at the pro level in the Pacific Rim Football League.  He is also an AmPro Racquetball Pro and plays for the Wilson Racquetball Elite Team.  He competed regularly up until he discovered Pickleball in December 2018 and shortly after, COVID hit and shut most of the Racquetball facilities down.  When learning pickleball, he got on the Pickleball courts confident that he could hold his own, and then got “smoked” by some older, more experienced players.  It was the moment that got him hooked. He and his wife (Elaina) entered a tournament within two months of learning the sport. He was noticed for his intense and athletic style of play by the Engage regional representative, who signed him on to the Engage Pro Team. Kyle is still a member of that team. On top of that, he is also a PPR Certified Pickleball Pro Instructor.

He has another element to him besides sports… poet and songwriter.  He is the composer of the song “Chillaxin’” which gained huge popularity a few years back. Kyle graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Washington.

Elaina:  She recently retired from teaching in the public schools where she coached soccer and track for boys and girls for 15 years.  Her boys’ and girls’ teams have won the OIA Division II Championships, and she has been named as Coach of the Year.  She was recently named Mid-Pacific Institute’s new Head Coach and Director of the girl’s soccer program.  Outside of soccer, she was also a highly competitive racquetball player sponsored by Wilson Racquetball. High school sweethearts with Kyle, she also graduated from the University of Puget Sound, where she was also a two-sport collegiate athlete (soccer & softball).  She is a PPR Certified Pickleball Instructor involved in the Junior Development Program with Oahu Pickleball Association (OPA), focusing on teaching the game to kids ages 8-18 and beginner adults.

Kylena:  She just turned age 15 and attends Mid-Pacific Institute in Honolulu, HI.  In 2018, her dad (Kyle) bought Christmas presents of pickleball paddles for the family.  She said, “I must say I was rather under-whelmed, as I didn’t know the game, and I was expecting clothes or something useful instead.”  Once she started playing, the paddle gift was very useful.  Like her mom, she has been playing soccer for a long time, and continues to love that game, but she loves pickleball too.  She commented, “Everyone I played in the beginning was older than me, some older than my parents, even (and that’s old!).  But they were all nice and seemed glad to have a younger person join them in the game that they had grown to love.”  One thing she noticed was that when she was a newbie, a lot of balls would be hit at her in the games, but as she got better, less balls would come her way.  She says she is a combination of her parents with “my dad’s competitive fire, and the demeanor of my mom, who is just as competitive but more chill.”  She is the same age as Anna Leigh Waters, who plays in the Professional Pickleball Association, and is ranked in the top five players in the world.  She hopes that pickleball will continue to grow and expand into high school and collegiate athletics soon.  There is talk of pickleball becoming an Olympic sport, and Kylena hopes to work toward achieving that goal.  Perhaps joining the PPA is in her future, but for now, she is just enjoying being a kid who plays soccer and pickleball.  
 

Tell us where you play when you visit Kauai, and your experiences while here.

We were here a few months back for the Kauai Sports Academy tournament at Kauai Beach Villas and just played at the 2022 PAK Open at Kalawai Park.  We love coming to Kauai because the people are so friendly and we always feel welcomed here.  Many of the players of Kauai we have met at the many pickleball tournaments we play in, and we are impressed with the high level of skill that Kauai players demonstrate.  People like Brant Fuchigami, Talon Abat, Rumi and Kimi Masumura, and Jen Grady are such great players and ambassadors of the game.  We really enjoyed the PAK Tournament and thought it was well organized and fun for everyone.  Playing so many tournaments, we were surprised that some people thought the entry fees were high, as tournaments are expensive to run, and many tournaments have much higher entry fees.  We noticed that the four courts at Kalawai only allowed a limited number of players and can relate that to Oahu, where the pickleball explosion has a severe case of too many players for too little courts. 

 

Why did you all become members of PAK?

We support the growth of pickleball and try to make an impact everywhere we go.  We have been aware of PAK for some time, and we read ALL the articles that get published on their website.  As coaches and players, we love Jack’s column “From the Picklehood” for the tips on improving our games and training regimens.  We like Nolan’s “President’s Report” where he reports on the status of the campaign for dedicated pickleball courts on Kauai.  We are impressed with the level of unity that Kauai is demonstrating through PAK, as Oahu tends to have divisive elements that choose to factionalize rather than come together for the common good.  The nature of pickleball is to create fans for those that try it, and there must be an atmosphere of Aloha to keep them playing.  More courts would help, and we must be self-reliant because our public facilities are just not keeping up with the demand.

 

What’s in the future for the Paredes family?

Next year, Kyle and Elaina will turn 50, and be eligible to play in the PPA Senior Pro Tour level. They are excited about competing at that level and continuing their lifelong involvement in elite level sports.  The good thing about that is they will be excluded from the amateur tournament levels (just kidding), and give others a chance to bring home tournament hardware.  Their involvement in promoting pickleball by introducing the sport to kids ages 8-18 will see growth of a pool of young players that will be the next national and international champions of our sport.  We will be watching as Kylena recovers from a knee injury to become the dominant female player at the highest levels.  She shares her parent’s passion for creating a low-barrier, inter-generational opportunity to play this game that they have come to love, and are, admittedly, addicted to.

 

The Paredes family have agreed to serve as advisors to PAK on all matters pickleball, and we thank them for their contribution to us and to our sport.

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Christina Hein

Christina Hein, from Germany, recently visited Kauai. She is a vivacious 23 year old who just graduated with a Bachelors degree in Kinesiology at the University of Regensburg. She was excited to experience the local Kauai lifestyle, see Kauai sights, and play pickleball on Kauai.

Christina grew up as the 3rd child in a family with 3 girls and a boy who were active in sports and in music. Everyone  either played a musical instrument or sang. Christina is talented and gifted with playing the flute and has a pretty voice. Airline travel benefits, from Christina’s mother’s stewardess job, has helped their family travel within Europe and other countries. Christina worked while going to college in a hiking park in Regensburg (Germany), and saved much of her hard earned money for her expenses in Hawaii.During the week prior to travelling to Kauai, Christina visited Oahu. While there, she was given her “good luck” paddle, and introduced to pickleball, by Richard and Charlotte Aipa (former Kauai residents). She fell in love with the game, enjoyed all the pickleball people she met, and wanted more of the same fun while on Kauai. Christina found lodging at a Kapaa hotel, discovered a pickleball group at Kapaa’s public tennis courts, and was welcomed by players there. They were kind and patient, and with their help, she continued to better her pickleball skills. She played at Hanapepe public tennis courts on another day of her stay. She played and improved her pickleball skills there, as well.

She found the Hanapepe pickleball players to be as kind and friendly as those in Kapaa. Her interactions on the island has her wishing that she could find a Kauai job and live here full time. Having enjoyed Kauai pickleball, as much as she did, Christina is hoping to introduce this game to people in her home town. Never having known about pickleball before her Hawaii trip, she now wants to share her knowledge within her German home town.  Since there are no pickleball facilities where she lives, Christina plans to request that her community center purchase necessary equipment to promote pickleball there.

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Vikas Bansal and
Ron Wesbecher

Vikas Bansal

Please tell us something about yourself.

My name is Vik. Originally hail from northern India. I have lived in Western Europe, Canada and most recently in the US. Particle Physicist by training but currently work in technology. I love volunteering and traveling. I seek out to play pickleball as much as I can and wherever I can with the paddle in my backpack always.

  

How did you start playing pickleball?

I travelled to Hawaii (Oahu) in Dec. ’20 and someone showed me pickleball. I got very interested in it (only sport I have ever played!) I really picked it up in Kauai in Feb – March ‘21 with bunch of very inviting folks.

Tell us where you play when you visit Kauai, and your experiences while here.

I mostly played in Lihue with a very friendly and fun group. Its always a blast and party mode playing there with local food and produce. Players of almost all ages and skills are seen here. I also played in Kapaa when no play in Lihue, Koloa in some mornings. Koloa has painted pickleball courts and the folks are very friendly and practice paddles line up diligently. I also had fun playing in Hanapepe (the most western courts in the US). You will find folks with a lot of skills and unique styles here.

Why did you become a member of PAK?

When I left Kauai after 2-months of fun stay, I already was part of the club. Just making it formal 😊

Do you have any advice on how we can accomplish our mission?  How are pickleball facilities where you live?

Ease to find pickleball places in Kauai for visitors via web. May be have a pickleball introduction to new comers bi-weekly. I did a road trip in the US in the summer of ’21. I was fortunate to play in many states and experience pickleball across the US from Bainbridge Islands in WA (Origin of Pickleball), to Illinois, New York, Kentucky, Colorado, California and Florida. I saw painted dedicated pickleball courts at many places and make shift courts at others. It was always fun at either place. Currently I am settled in Eastern Washington where we have few outdoor dedicated courts but we do find an indoor baskeball gym that hosts three pickleball nets.

Ron Wesbecher

Please tell us something about yourself.

I’m just a dairy farm boy from Illinois.  I grew up with a herd of 50 Holstein cows, and I couldn’t wait to leave them and go to college.  I got married the first Saturday after I graduated to Alice, who I knew and loved forever.  We have been married 54 years, have two daughters, and 9 grandchildren.  I retired as President of a small bank and taught Vocational Agriculture right out of college.  Our eldest daughter plays pickleball, as do some of her 6 kids. 

 

How did you start playing pickleball?

Someone asked me to play in LeRoy, my hometown.  I may have played once or twice before starting to play at the Lihue courts.  We have owned a condo here since 2009, and visit annually for months, but never really made any real friends here, until pickleball.  I was just made to feel so welcome at Lihue by the players there and made so many friends.  Now, our visits to Kauai are highlighted by pickleball, and visiting with our new family here. 

 

Tell us where you play when you visit Kauai, and your experiences while here.

Lihue at Wilcox school.  Our condo is nearby, and we just feel so comfortable there.  I just marvel at the organization of the play.  Lori Uyeda is the organizer, and she works so hard at letting people know when play is going to happen.  Lots of work must be done because there are no permanent courts that players can just walk on to and play.  Temporary nets must be put up, taken down, rack systems for organizing players on the limited number of courts, balls provided, etc.  Lihue players just love each other, and regularly get together for potlucks and Christmas parties.  The food and fellowship are superb!  Lori is my model for organizing.  I try to copy her back in LeRoy where we are trying to get more people playing the sport, in spite of our snowy weather. 

 

Why did you become a member of PAK?

I believe strongly in their mission, and my good friends are also members.  Back home, we have very decent court surfaces that we can set up nets for pickleball, with the blessing of our county.  However, weather is a factor, and indoor facilities would be preferable.  Kauai is so blessed to be able to play year-round outdoors.  There are so many players now, and they deserve permanent courts dedicated to pickleball.  At Lihue, the cracks are so bad, that we make fun of them as our “third opponent”.  I always wonder why so much money is spent on the walking path and bicycle lanes rather than pickleball courts. 

 

Do you have any advice on how we can accomplish our mission?  How are pickleball facilities where you live?

Kauai is so much more difficult to get anything done, but I am willing to help.  I just realized that I may have more close friends here than back home in LeRoy.  All because of pickleball.  I was President of the local bank, and I knew a lot of folks back home, so that is saying a lot about Kauai’s people and the power of pickleball.

Kind words from Ron below....

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Ina Blogg

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Please tell us something about yourself.

Married to George, 3 children, 9 grandchildren, ages 10 months to 7 years old.  We are both retired music teachers in the Illinois public school system.  I play keyboards and George is a professional trumpet player.  Our hobbies are canoeing, golf, camping, cycling and of course, pickleball.  We do a lot of traveling from our home in Waconda, Illinois to visit our grandchildren in Illinois, Texas, and Virginia.  We first visited Kauai in 2009, and now come once a year and stay for three and a half months.  While here we play a lot of golf at “Kuks” (Kukuiolono Golf Course) and pickleball at various venues and visit the many friends we have made on island. 

 

How did you start playing pickleball?

Years ago, I was paddling outrigger canoes on Kauai, and my fellow paddler Sabra invited me to play at Kauai Christian Fellowship.I had never heard of the game but showed up even though I am naturally shy.I was immediately embraced by Carol and Don, and they taught me how the game is played, and I was hooked.After leaving Kauai, I did not play the game for a year.When I returned the next year, I had to relearn the game because I forgot all the rules.There was a good laugh about that.I wanted to get better, so I attended clinics at Kaumakani gym with Jack, serving pointers from Eddie, and took advice from anyone that offered it, including Mike from Kekaha.

 

Tell us where you play when you visit Kauai, and your experiences while here.

I play at Kauai Christian Fellowship and Hanapepe.  I used to play at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center when it was open.  I miss the open play at Kalaheo and cannot understand why the gym is no longer available for play because it was so popular.  People on Kauai are friendlier than on the mainland, and I have made so many friends on the courts here.  I am much less shy here than usual, because folks are so nice.  I remember how the KCF players organized a surprise 60th birthday party for me at the courts, with a super potluck lunch.  I was so touched by the gesture.

Why did you become a member of PAK?

Lucia, one of the directors of PAK, texted me that a membership campaign was going on and encouraged me to join.  Now, please understand that I think Lucia is one of the nicest people in the world, and if she asked me to give a million dollars and I had it, I would.  So, I signed up and sent my money in the old-fashioned way by mail.

Do you have any advice on how we can accomplish our mission?  How are pickleball facilities where you live?

I don’t know why Kauai doesn’t have many dedicated pickleball venues.  There are so many players, and they really need places to play.  In northern Illinois, within a short distance from my home there are at least 5 public dedicated pickleball facilities with at least 8 courts each provided by the Parks and Recreation Department.  In addition, there is a private indoor facility (Illinois is not blessed with the weather Kauai has) called Canlan in Lake Barrington, where there are 12 indoor courts.  We pay a per visit fee of $5 by buying a punch card pass and are happy to have the opportunity to play even while it is snowing.  I am hoping that PAK can accomplish its mission while we are still able to play and visit Kauai.  It is truly “Playing in Paradise”.